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Full text of "The pulpit of the American Revolution, or The political sermons of the period of 1776, with a historical introduction, notes, and illustrations"






CCT.8 T : .720_DO JULY 19 T ~ : 766. 



or 1 Dorr.ton s Puluit of the UevoLution". 



THE 



PULPIT 






OF THE 



AMERICAN REVOLUTION 



OR, THE 



f 01itiol S*rmmis of % |)m0ir of 1776< 



HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION, NOTES, AND ILLUSTRATIONS. 



JOHN WINGATE THORNTON, A.M. 




SEO02STID IEJ D I T I O 2ST . 



BOSTON: 
D. LOTHROP & CO., PUBLISHERS, 

COR. FRANKLIN AND HAWLEY STS. 




Copyright, 1876, by D. LOTHROP & Co. 



of 

ROCKWELL AND CHURCHILL, 

39 Arch Street, Boston. 



PREFACE. 



THE true alliance between Politics and Eeligion is the 
lesson inculcated in this volume of Sermons, and apparent in 
its title, " THE PULPIT OF THE REVOLUTION." It is the voice 
of the Fathers of the Republic, enforced by their example. 
They invoked God in their civil assemblies, called upon their 
chosen teachers of religion for counsel from the Bible, and 
recognized its precepts as the law of their public conduct. 
The Fathers did not divorce politics and religion, but they 
denounced the separation as ungodly. They prepared for the 
struggle, and went into battle, not as soldiers of fortune, but, 
like Cromwell and the soldiers of the Commonwealth, with the 
Word of God in their hearts, and trusting in him. This was 
the secret of that moral energy which sustained the Republic 
in its material weakness against superior numbers, and disci 
pline, and all the power of England. To these Sermons the 
responses from the Pulpit the State affixed its imprimatur, 
and thus they were handed down to future generations with 
a two-fold claim to respect. 

The Union of the colonies was a condition precedent to 
American Nationality. One nationality, and that of a Pro 
testant people, was essential to constitutional liberty in Ame 
rica. If the colonies had become separate independencies at 
different times, America would have but repeated the history 



IV PREFACE. 

of European divisions and wars. The combination and balance 
of forces necessary to the grand result seems to have been cal 
culated with the nicety of a formula. France, the champion of 
the Papal system of intellectual and political slavery and des 
potism, and England, the assertor of enlightened freedom, com 
peted for the dominion of America. The red cross of St. 
George shielded the brotherhood of English Protestants from 
the extermination meditated by Papal France, whose military 
cordon reached along our northern and western frontiers, and 
thus insured to England the fealty of her Atlantic colonies, till, 
" in the fulness of time," France, by the treaty of 1763, relin 
quished Canada. Then the colonies, relieved from the hostile 
pressure, became restless under the restraints of dependency, 
and England was the only power whose strength and common 
relation to them could at once endanger the liberty of all, impel 
them to a league of domestic amity, and bind them in fraternal 
resistance to a common enemy. But a brief contest would have 
left danger of colonial disintegration ; and the stupid obstinacy 
of George III. was necessary to prolong the war in order to 
blend the colonists, by communion under a national flag, in 
national feeling, and by general intercourse, common inter 
ests, and common sufferings. So God formed the fair Temple 
of American Liberty. 

In his Election Sermon of 1783, republished in this volume, 
President Stiles says, with sublime eloquence, that Jefferson 
"POURED THE SOUL OF THE CONTINENT INTO THE MONU 
MENTAL ACT OF INDEPENDENCE." The SOUL of the Revolu 
tion is embodied in documents like these, rather than in the 
statistics of sieges and battles, which were the fruits of their 
inspiration, and, under God, the vindication of their truth. 

The second Discourse in this volume is on the Repeal of the 



PREFACE. V 

Stamp Act. The colonists, sheltered under the flag of Eng 
land, permitted her to regulate their foreign commerce ; but the 
Stamp Act violated their domestic independence ; and they 
showed, by custom, by equity, and by their charters from the 
king, that Parliament had no jurisdiction within their terri 
tories, and they refused to submit. England sent her armies 
to compel submission, and the colonists appealed to Heaven. 
The Stamp Act 1 involved the principle in dispute for the next 
eighteen years. 

In his Sermon of 1750, Jonathan Mayhew declared the 
Christian principles of government in the faith of which 
Washington, ordained of God, won liberty for America, not 
less for England, and ultimately for the world ; so that the en 
graving of Mayhew and that of the Stamp fitly introduce these 
Sermons of the Revolution. By the conflict with her children, 
England herself was rescued from the slough of unlimited 
power into which she was fast drifting under George III. 
The reaction roused her from political apathy, and revived the 
ancient principles of freedom. By defeating P^ngland, Amer 
ica saved the liberty of both. Both governments rest upon 

1 A stamp duty was a familiar tax in England. It had existed as far 
back as 4th William and Mary, 1694; and the act of 1765 was simply to 
"extend" 2 this mode of taxing to the colonies. The engraving upon 
the title-page was taken from a veritable stamp, issued under that act, and 
loaned to the publishers by Mr. Samuel Foster Haven, of the American An 
tiquarian Society, through Mr. Charles Emery Stevens, of Worcester, 
whose valuable suggestions in the preparation of the work are also grate 
fully acknowledged. The impression is on a blue, spongy paper, capable of 
receiving a sharp, distinct outline, in which was imbedded a slip of lead, or 
soft white metal, as indicated in the engraving. The paper is pasted on 
parchment, and on the reverse is the royal cipher, " G. R." The wbrd 
"America "was the only difference between the English and American 
stamps. They were issued in sheets, like our postage stamps. 

2 Bancroft s U. S., iv. ch. viii; Knight s England, vi. 271. 

1* 



VI PREFACE. 

the right of revolution, and the will of the people is the con 
stitutional basis of each. 

On presenting his credentials as American ambassador, June 
1, 1785, Mr. Adams, in his address to King George III., said : 
" I shall esteem myself the happiest of men if I can be instru 
mental in restoring an entire esteem, confidence, and affection ; 
or, in better words, the old good-nature and the old good-hu 
mor between people, who, although separated by ocean, and 
under different governments, have the same language, a similar 
religion, and kindred blood." 1 God grant that this benign spirit 
of generous brotherhood, this blessed unity of which he was 
the Author, may never be imperilled by malign counsels. Now, 
after three-quarters of a century, these ties of nature, stronger 
than treaties, reassert their genial sway ; and the heir of the 
Throne of England the guest of the Nation and the 
President of the Republic stand reverently at the Tomb of 
WASHINGTON. 

i See Index, " America and England, Unity of." 
BOSTON, Nov. 21, 1860. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION, ........ ix 



DISCOURSE I. 

DR. MAYHEW S SERMON OF JAN. 30, 1750. 

UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS 

THE MYSTERY OF KING CHARLES S SAINTSHIP AND MARTYRDOM 
UNRIDDLED, 39 

DISCOURSE II. 

DR. CHAUNCY S THANKSGIVING SERMON ON THE REPEAL OF 
THE STAMP ACT, 1766. 

THE NEWS OF THE REPEAL REASONS FOR REJOICING AND THANKSGIV 
ING THE PROPER USE TO BE MADE OF THE "GOOD NEWS," . . 105 

DISCOURSE III. 

MR. COOKE S ELECTION SERMON, 1770. 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE THE CHARACTER 

OF GOOD RULERS, AND THE DUTIES OF CITIZENS, 147 

DISCOURSE IV. 

MR. GORDON S THANKSGIVING SERMON, 1774. 

THE CHRISTIAN DUTY OF RESISTANCE TO TYRANTS PREPARE FOR WAR 

APPEAL TO HEAVEN, , .187 



VIII CONTENTS. 

DISCOURSE V. 

PAGE 

DR. LANGDON S ELECTION SERMON AT WATERTOWN, 1775. 

THE RIGHT OP SELF-GOVERNMENT IS FROM GOD THE DIVINE RIGHT OF 

KINGS EXPLODED, 227 

DISCOURSE VI. 

MR, WEST S ELECTION SERMON, 1776. 

THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT THE MAGISTRATE S AUTHORITY 
ARBITRARY POWER SUBVERSIVE OF THE DESIGN OF CIVIL POLITY 
OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, . .259 



DISCOURSE VII. 

MR. PAYSON S ELECTION SERMON, 1778. 

POPULAR GOVERNMENT THE TRUE SPIRIT OF LIBERTY REQUISITES TO 
A FREE GOVERNMENT ITS DANGERS THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF RUL 
ERS AND OF CITIZENS, . . . . . . 



DISCOURSE VIII. 

MR. HOWARD S ELECTION SERMON, 1780. 

THE NECESSITY OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT TO THE HAPPINESS OF MANKIND 
THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO CHOOSE THEIR OWN RULERS THE 
DUTIES AND QUALIFICATIONS OF CHRISTIAN RULERS, .... 



DISCOURSE IX. 

DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 
"THE UNITED STATES EXALTED TO GLORY AND HONOR," . . . 899 

INDEX, 621 



INTRODUCTION. 



THIS collection of Sermons presents examples of the politico- 
theological phase of the conflict for American Independence, 
a phase not peculiar to that period. Its origin was coeval 
with the colonization of New England ; and a brief review of 
some leading points in our history will afford the best expla 
nation of its rise and development. 

There is a natural and just union of religious and civil 
counsels, not that external alliance of the crosier and sword 
called " Church and State," but the philosophical and deeper 
union which recognizes GOD as Supreme Ruler, and which is 
illustrated in this volume of occasional Discourses and " Election 
Sermons," a title equivalent, in the right intent of the term, 
to " political preaching." 

There is also a historical connection, which is to be found 
rather in the general current of history than in particular 
instances. In this we may trace the principle, or vital cord, 
which runs through our own separate annals since our fathers 
came to the New World, and also marks the progress of liberty 
and individual rights in England. " New England has the proud 
distinction of tracing her origin to causes purely moral and 
intellectual, a fact which fixes the character of her founders 
and planters as elevated and refined, not the destroyers of 



X INTRODUCTION. 

cities, provinces, and empires, but the founders of civilization 
in America." 

The word clergie is in itself historical, meaning, in the Norman 
tongue, literature. In early times, when learning was almost 
exclusively with the clergy, they, by this monopoly, held almost 
the whole power of church and state. We may see an illus 
tration of this union of civil and ecclesiastical functions in the 
Annals of the See of Bath and Wells, which yielded from its 
diocesan list to the civil state of England six Lord Chancel 
lors, eight Lord High Treasurers, two Lords Privy Seal, one 
Master of the Rolls, one Lord President of Wales, one prin 
cipal Secretary of State ; and to higher Episcopal office, five 
Archbishops of Canterbury, three Archbishops of York, and, 
says the annalist of the diocese, " to the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, the cause of Monarchy, and of Orthodoxy, one MARTYR, 
William Laud." 

But, of all the names in that priestly catalogue, to ARTHUR 
LAKE belongs the transcendent honor, the highest distinction ; 
for it was his missionary spirit that originated the movement 
which led to the colonization of Massachusetts, an enterprise 
greatly indebted for its success to the unhappy zeal of his im 
mediate successor in the office of bishop, the " martyr " Laud. 
As this execrable l prelate embodied the principles and spirit 
of the hierarchy ; as he had a controlling agency in the settle 
ment of New England, by " harrying " the Puritans out of Old 
England ; and as he has ever been remembered with abhorrence 
by their descendants, some of whose early Puritan "prejudices," 
not yet eradicated, may very possibly reach future generations, 
mention of a characteristic act in his official life may be per- 

1 For an opposite view of Archbishop Laud s character, and the principles 
involved in it, read his " Life and Times," by John Lawson Parker. 2 vols. 8vo. 
London : 1829. 



INTRODUCTION. XI 

tinent to our inquiry. It was this : Mr. Leighton, a Scotch divine, 
being convicted of writing a book denouncing the severities of the 
hierarchy, Bishop Laud pulled off his hat when sentence was 
pronounced on the offender, and gave God thanks for the victory. 
This was in the Star Chamber, and in keeping with the general 
tone of proceedings which prevailed in this court, in the council, 
and in the government generally, during Laud s time. 

Mr. Leighton "was severely whipped; then, being set in the 
pillory, his ear was cut off, his nose slit, and his cheek was branded, 
with a red-hot iron, S. S., as a Sower of Sedition. On that day 
week the sores on his back, ears, nose, and face not being cured 
he was whipped again at the pillory, in Cheapside, and the remain 
der of his sentence executed by cutting off his other ear, slitting 
the other side of his nose, and branding his other cheek." 

This man, Laud, who conceived, perpetrated, revelled in, and 
recorded in his private diary these disgusting details, was by Charles 
I. promoted step by step in Episcopal office, till, in 1633, three 
years after the outrage on Leighton, and the next after his brutality 
on Prynne, this man was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, 
the primate of the Episcopal Church, the representative man of 
the hierarchy. The New Englanders always spoke of him as " our 
great enemy." 

Early in the next year 1634 this primate, " with my Lord 
Privy Seal," after an examination in council of Governor Cradock 1 

l Governor Mathewe Cradock, though prominent in early Massachusetts 
annals, never set foot in New England. The house built on his plantation, in 
what is Medford. in 1634, is yet standing, one of the precious memorials of 
early times. Brooks History of Medford honors him as " the founder " of the 
town, and contains a picture of the house. After the removal of the colony from 
Cape Ann to Salem, in 1626, under Governor Conant, some of the persevering 
members of " the Dorchester Company," which had originated the enterprise 
of colonizing Massachusetts, effected, with new associates, a new organization, for 
continuing and expanding the colonization of New England, which was at a later 
period March 4, 1628-9 "confirmed " by charter from Charles I. Of this new 
"company" Cradock was appointed the first governor, and John Endecott was 



XII INTRODUCTION. 

and other friends of the colonists, and of" all their correspondence" 
with u the brethren "in New England, called them all " imposturous 
knaves," promised u the cropping of Mr. Winthrop s ears," the loss 
of the colonial charter, and a " general governor " over all the colo 
nies, to do his bloody behests. "If Jove vouchsafe to thunder, 
the charter and the kingdom of the separatists will fall asunder," 
and so end "King Winthrop, with all his inventions, and his 
Amsterdam and fantastical ordinances, his preachings, marriages, 
and other abusive ceremonies, which exemplify his detestation of 
the Church of England, and contempt of his Majesty s authority 
and wholesome laws"! Winthrop s ears were not cropped, and 
Laud became a "martyr"! 

From such a gospel the New England Puritans fled; and in 
the celebrated pulpit at Saint Paul s Cross, in London, its clergy 
preached often and bitterly against the New England colonies 
and planters, especially Massachusetts, who, by limiting their 
franchise to members of their own communion, kept out of political 
power those enemies 1 who followed them hither, and who would 
have overturned the Commonwealth, which some attempted, 
as in the case of Child, Vassal, the infamous Maverick, and others. 
When the Colony became a State, with an educated people, the 
bars were let down, and suffrage was extended. 

the first, if not the only, governor of the colony under this charter. Massachu 
setts Col. Ilec., "The Landing at Cape Ann," and authorities there cited. See 
note 1, p. xxiii. 

l In the admirable state paper from Massachusetts Bay to the Parliament, in 
1651, they say: " We, . . being men able enough to live in England with our 
neighbours, and being helpfull to others, and not needing the help of any for 
outward thinges, about three or four and twenty years since, seeing.just cause to 
feare the persecution of the then bishops and high commission, for not conform 
ing to the ceremonies then pressed upon the consciences of those under their 
power, we thought it our safest course to get outside of the world, out of their 
view, and beyond their reach, .... coming hither at our proper charges 
without the help of the State, . . . having expended, first and last, . . . . 
divers hundreds of thousands pounds." 



INTRODUCTION. XIII 

It was well said in Stoughton s Election Sermon, preached in 
1668, that " God sifted a whole nation that he might send choice 
grain over into this wilderness." ..." They were men of great 
renown in the nation from whence the Laudian persecution exiled 
them ; their learning, their holiness, their gravity, struck all men 
that knew them with admiration. They were Timothies in their 
houses, Chrysostoms in their pulpits, Augustines in their disputa 
tions." Indeed, this exodus of so many of the choicest of England s 
educated and Christian sons, consequent upon this fanaticism for the 
church, not religion, alarmed the sober-minded. We find an 
expression of this in the anecdote of the vice-chancellor s strenuous 
exception to printing the two lines in Herbert s " Temple," 

" Religion stands a-tiptoe in our land, 
Heady to pass to the American strand," 

when they requested his imprimatur for that poem ; and his reluctant 
assent was given with the " hope that the world would not take 
Herbert for an inspired prophet." This was in 1633. Towards 
the close of Queen Elizabeth s reign, the judicious Hooker defined 
the " clergy as a state" or order of men " whereunto the rest 
of God s people must be subject, as touching" only "things 
that appertain to their soul s health." This was a great advance in 
the right ; but the leaven of Puritanism had then been some time 
fermenting in England, and many of the churchmen now chal 
lenged this claim of the priesthood. 

A late able writer x sums up clearly " the points upon which the 
Puritan clergy and their lords were at issue. In substance the pre 
lates claimed that every word, ceremony, and article, written in the 
Book of Common Prayer, and in the Book of Ordination, was as 
faultless and as binding as the Book of God, and must be acknowl- 



1 Hopkins, " Puritanism and Queen Elizabeth," vol. ii. p. 369. 

2 



XIV INTRODUCTION. 

edged as such. The Puritans dared not say it. The prelates 
claimed to themselves or, more modestly, to the church which 
they personified an infallibility of judgment in all things pertain 
ing to religion. The Puritans denied the claim. The prelates 
claimed obedience; the Puritans, manhood; the prelates, spiritual 
lordship ; the Puritans, Christian liberty." And these preposter 
ous claims of the prelates rested upon acts of Parliament ! 

The quarrel was in the church. Some of these Puritans fled to 
New England. They came hither protesting against these prelatical 
assumptions, and were really a church rather than a state. Separa 
tion from the Church of England was at first viewed by those of 
Massachusetts with repugnance; but it was facilitated by a quasi 
adoption of a very mild type of the Genevan or Presbyterian 
polity, the validity of whose ordination had been repeatedly recog 
nized by the hierarchy, and also declared by Act of Parliament, 
13th Elizabeth ; the very same authority which created the " Estab 
lished" Church, and tinkered its " infallibility" to suit the changing 
times. But soon " they read this clearly," as did Oliver Cromwell, 
John Milton, and John Cotton, that 

" New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ large." 

As they were already imbued with the spirit, they gradually adopted 
the principles of Independency, absolute democracy, essen 
tially as held and taught by their Plymouth brethren. This was the 
legitimate result of the Reformation, and it was distinctly conceded 
to be such by one of Hooker s ablest scholars, George Cranmer. 
In a letter to his teacher, he said : " If the positions of the Reform 
ers be true, I cannot see how the main and general conclusions of 
Brownism " Independency " should be false." * That great man, 
Sir James Mackintosh, incidentally renders them a noble tribute, in 

1 In the Appendix to Izaak Walton s Life of Mr. Richard Hooker. 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

his admirable article on the philosophical genius of Bacon and 
Locke. Mr. Locke was admitted to Christ Church College in 1651, 
when Dr. Owen, the Independent, was Dean, the same who was 
thought of for the presidency of Harvard College. " Educated," 
says Sir James, " among the English Dissenters, during the short 
period of their political ascendency, he early imbibed the deep 
piety and ardent spirit of liberty wliicli actuated that body of men ; 
and he probably imbibed also, in their schools, the disposition to 
metaphysical inquiries which has everywhere accompanied the Cal- 
vinistic theology. Sects, founded on the right of private judgment, 
naturally tend to purify themselves from intolerance, and in time 
to learn to respect in others the freedom of thought to the exercise 
of which they owe their own existence. By the Independent di 
vines, who were his instructors, our philosopher was taught those 
principles of religious liberty which they were the first to disclose to the 
world." 

Such was the origin of New England ; such the men who founded 
it. Religion, the church, was the great thought, and civil interests 
were only incidental. This is not only evident in our history, as 
already narrated, but it is distinctly avowed and reiterated in the 
writings of the fathers of New England from the very beginning. 
Thus Rojrer Con ant, the first Governor of Massachusetts Colony, 
suggested to the Rev. John White, of Dorchester, that it might be a 
refuge from the coming storm " on account of religion." l Protes 
tantism seemed to be in great danger on the Continent and in Eng 
land, where the king, court, and many of the hierarchy -were more 
than suspected of sympathy with Popery. Mr. White conferred 
with Bishop Lake, who favored the suggestion, especially as an 
opportunity for Christian missions among the Indians, and entered 

l History of New England, Edit. 1848, p. 107, by Hubbard, who, no doubt, had 
the facts from Governor Couant himself, who lived at Beverly, near Ipswich, 
Hubbard s residence. 



XVI INTRODUCTION. 

into it with such zeal as to say to Mr. AVhite that " he would go 
himself but for his age." 1 

This most Christian bishop availed himself of an early and prov 
idential opportunity to speak, with apostolic earnestness, on the 
national neglect and duty in this matter. On the second of July, 
1625, he " preached in Westminster, before his Majestic, the Lords, 
and others of the Upper House of Parliament, at the opening of 
the Fast," 2 which had been ordered throughout the kingdom, on 
petition of the Puritan Parliament. It was on account of the pub 
lic calamities, civil and religious. He spoke with great plainness. 
" There is," he said, " a kind of metaphysical locusts and caterpillars, 
locusts that come out of the bottomless pit, I mean popish priests 
and Jesuits, and caterpillars of the Commonwealth, projectors and 
inventors of new tricks" well known to the king and others who 
listened to these words " how to exhaust the purses of the sub 
jects, covering private ends with public pretences ; ... in 
well-governed states they were wont to be called Pestes Reipublicce, 
Plagues of the Commonwealth." Near the close of his sermon, the 
preacher said : " Neither is it enough for us to make much of God s 
truth for our own good, but also we should propagate it to others. 
And here let me tell you, that there lieth a great guilt upon 
Christian states, and England among the rest, that they have not 
been careful to bring them that sit in darkness and in the shadow 
of death to the knowledge of Christ and participation of the gos- 



1 The anecdote seems to come direct from the lips of Mr. White to Mr. Hugh 
Peter,- who records it in his autobiography, " Last Legacy to his Daugh 
ter," Boston, Ed. 1717, p. 77, and says, "That good man, my dear firm friend, 
Mr. White, of Dorchester, and Bishop Lake, occasioned, yea, founded that 
work;" i. e., Massachusetts Colony. It is a curious fact, that part of Archbishop 
Laud s library came into the possession of Mr. Peter, who intended to send it 
to New England. There is an interesting reference to Mr. White and Mr. Peter 
in Governor Ciadock s letter to Governor Endecott. Mass. Records, i. 384. 

2 " Svndrie Sermons de tempore, by Arthur Lake, D. of Diuinitie, Lord Bishop 
of Bath and Welles," London, 1629: folios 200220. 



INTRODUCTION. XVII 

pel. Much travelling to the Indies, East and West, but wherefor ? 
Some go to possess themselves of the lands of the infidels, but 
most, by commerce, to grow richer by their goods. But where 
is the prince or state that pitieth their souls, and, without any 
worldly respects, endeavours the gaining of them unto God ? Some 
show we make, but it is a poor one ; for it is but an accessorie to 
our worldly desire ; it is not our primary intention ; whereas Christ s 
method is, first seek ye the kingdom of God, and then all other things 
shall be added unto yon ; you shall fare the better for it in your 
worldly estate. If the apostles and apostolic men had affected our 
salvation no more, we might have continued to this day such as 
sometimes we were, barbarous subjects of the Prince of Darkness." 

In exact accordance with these teachings, the king and colonists 
declared " the principal ende of this plantation" of Massachusetts 
to be, " to win and incite the natives of the country to the knowl 
edge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind, 
and the Christian faith ; " and to complete the moral unity of the 
bishop s missionary sermon, and the designs of our fathers, we par 
allel with his anathema against the Papacy the first of their " gen 
eral considerations for the plantation in New England," which was 
in these words : " It will be a service to the church, of great conse 
quence, to carry the gospell into those parts of the world, and to 
raise a bulwarke against the kingdom of antichrist, which the Jesuits 1 
labor to rear up in all places of the world." 

When the "governor and companie" that branch of the 
Massachusetts government which, under the charter, had its legal 
residence in England were about emigrating to the colony, they 
issued a manifesto, April 7, 1630, declaring themselves to be a 



1 " The Jesuits," wrote John Cotton, in 1647, " have professed to some of our 
merchants and marriners, they look at our plantations (and at some of us by 
name) as dangerous supplanters of the Catholick cause " in America, especially in 
Canada. 

2* 



XVIII INTRODUCTION. 

CHURCH, " a weake colonie from their brethren in and of the Cliurcli 
of England," as " the Church of Philippi was a colony of the 
church at Rome." The Rev. John Norton, in the Election Sermon 
of 1661, said that they came "into this wilderness to live under the 
order of the gospel ; " " that our polity may be a gospel polity, and 
may be compleat according to the Scriptures, answering fully the 
Word of God: this is the work of our generation, and the very 
work we engaged for into this wilderness ; this is the scope and 
end of it, that which is written upon the forehead of New England, 
viz., the compleat walking in the faith of the gospel, according to 
the order of the gospel." 

The venerable Higginson, of Salem, in his Election Sermon of 
1663, stated the point with great fulness, as follows : u It concerneth 
New England always to remember that they are originally a 
plantation religious, not a plantation of trade. The profession of 
the purity of doctrine, worship, and discipline, is written upon 
her forehead. Let merchants, and such as are increasing cent, 
per cent., remember this : that worldly gain was not the end and 
design of the people of New England, but religion. And if any 
man among us make religion as twelve, and the world as thirteen, 
such an one hath not the spirit of a true New England man." 

In the Election Sermon of 1677, the Rev. Dr. Increase Mather 
uttered these words : " It was love to God and to Jesus Christ 
which brought our fathers into this wilderness. . . . They 
did not, in their coming hither, propound any great matters to 
themselves respecting this world ; only that they should have 
liberty to serve God, and to walk with him in all the waves of his 
worship. . . . There never was a generation that did so per 
fectly shake off the dust of Babylon, both as to ecclesiastical and 
civil constitution, as the first generation of Christians that came 
into this land for the gospel s sake." 

The Rev. William Hubbard, the historian, in a Fast-day sermon, 



INTRODUCTION. XIX 

preached June 24, 1682, declared that the fathers "came not 
hither for the world, or for land, or for traffic ; but for religion, 
and for liberty of conscience in the worship of God, which was 
their only design." 

The historical fact was stated by President Stiles, of Yale College, 
in 1 783 : u 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 es 
tablish 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 these ends of the earth." l 

The result of all this was, a new community, voluntarily gathered 
in New England, primarily for religion, organized into many 
"independent" churches, each of them a petty democracy, electing 
its oflicers and ministers, making its own laws, and regulating its 
own affairs, so far as possible, by the system of polity indicated 
with more or less distinctness in holy Scripture. Out of this 
condition of things the state was gradually developed. Here was 
individualism, an admirable system for making good full-blooded 
Puritan citizens, but very poor and unmanageable subjects. So 
George III. and George Grenville, " The Gentle Shepherd," found 
it in 1763 and afterward. 

By the change, the clergy could retain no authority, but their 
influence was probably increased. They had " great power in 
the people s hearts," says Winthrop. Religion predominated over 
all other interests. 

" As near the law of God as. they can " be, was the instruction 
of the General Court to their committee of laity and ministry, ap- 

l This very exact statement of fact explains the exclusive policy of the early 
legislation. It was at that time absolutely necessary to sell-preservation against 
the plottings of the hierarchy, to confine the privilege of franchise to their 
known friends. 



XX INTRODUCTION. 

pointed to frame laws for the Commonwealth. Their first l written 
code, under the charter of 1629, was drawn by a minister. Rev. 
Nathaniel Ward, of Ipswich, Hugh Peter, and Thomas Welde, min 
isters, were the colonial agents from Massachusetts to the mother 
country in 1641, to aid "m furthering the work of the reformation 
of the churches there" and in relation to our colonial affairs ; but 
"some reasons were alleged" though ineffectually "that offi 
cers should not be taken from their churches for civil occasions." 

This was coincident, in time and spirit, with the exclusion of 
the bishops from Parliament, which, says Hallam, was the latest 
concession that the king made before his final appeal to arms at 
the battle of Edgehill, October 23, 1642. Sir Edward Verney, who 
was there killed, declared his reluctance to fight for the bishops, 
ichose cause he took it to be. 

The name of Hugh Peter reminds us that New England shared 
in the English revolution of 1640; sent preachers and soldiers, 
aid and comfort, to Cromwell; gave an asylum to the tyrannicides, 
Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell; reaffirmed the same maxims of 
liberty in the revolution of 1688, and so stood right on the record 
for the third revolution of 1776. 

Hutchinson says that the Rev. John Cotton was supposed to have 
been more instrumental in the settlement of their civil as well as 
ecclesiastical polity than any other man. He too, the representa 
tive man of New England, was, as could not be otherwise expected, 
remembering his life, a sound " Commonwealth s " man. To him, 
"Pastor of the Church at Boston, in New England," Cromwell 
wrote, 2 in a letter from London, 2d October, 1651: . . . "I 
received yours a few days since. It was welcome to me because 

1 Rev. Dr. Felt (Ecclesiastical History, vol. i p 166) shows that laws had been 
enacted, under Governor Endecott s administration, prior to the transfer of the 
" companie " to the colon} in 1629. 

2 Carlyle s Cromwell, Letter cxxv., and Harris s Lives, iii. 518, where the letter 
was first published. Cotton s letter is in Hutchinson s Coll. 233. 



INTRODUCTION. XXI 

signed by you, whom I love and honor in the Lord; but more 
to see some of the same grounds of our acting stirring in you that 
are in us, to quiet us in our work, and support us therein" 

Here we cannot but stop for a moment by the way to notice a 
beautiful and significant incident, of recent date, which must 
excite delight, if not exultation. It is this : The very Episcopal au 
thorities which silenced the voice of Cotton within the venerable walls 
of Boston Church, in Lincolnshire, in England, and banished him and 
his Puritan brethren, after the lapse of two centuries invited us, the 
descendants of those exiles, to join with them in brotherly union 
to render distinguished honors to his memory. The u Founder s 
Chapel " of the noble church, beautifully renovated, was reopened 
as " Cotton Chapel," and in the eastern arch was set a large, highly 
ornamented memorial tablet of brass, bearing an inscription in 
Latin, from the classical pen of Mr. Everett ; in English, as follows : 

In perpetual remembrance of 

JOHN COTTON, 

Who, during the reigns of James and Charles, 
Was for many years a grave, skilful, learned, and 

laborious Vicar of this Church. 

Afterwards, on account of the miserable commotion 
amongst sacred affairs 

In his own country, 

He sought a new settlement in a New World, 
And remained even to the end of his life 

A pastor and teacher 

Of the greatest reputation and of the greatest authority 

In the first church of Boston, in New England, 

Which receives this venerable name 

In honor of Cotton. 

Ccxxv years having passed away since his migration, 

His descendants and the American citizens of Boston were incited 

to this pious work by their English 

brethren, 
In order that the name of an illustrious man, 

The love and honor of both worlds, 
Might not any longer be banished from that noble 

temple, 

In which he diligently, learnedly, and sacredly 

Expounded the divine oracles for so many years; 

And willingly and gratuitously caused this shrine to be restored 

and this tablet to be erected, 
In the year of our recovered salvation 1857. 



XXII INTRODUCTION. 

The American flag and the British color floated majestically from 
St. Botolph s tower. 1 

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Bishop of London (Laud s successor), 
and other clergy, took part in the proceedings of the day. The 
Bishop of Lincoln preached, taking for his text the fourth chapter 
of Ezra, fourth verse : "Let us build with you, for we seek your God 
as ye do ; " and this reopening of St. Botolph s, as if to give more 
emphasis to the occasion and the words, was his first official act 
as diocesan of Lincoln. 

The significance of this celebration can be best appreciated, 
perhaps, by conjecturing the amazement of Archbishop Laud, and 
his victim, the Rev. John Cotton, could they have witnessed the 
occasion ! Each of them will be judged according to his works ; 
and the world has learned wisdom by them. 

To resume our point: In 1662, at the earnest solicitation of 
the General Court and of the ministry, Mr. Simon Bradstreet 
and Rev. John Norton went to England, as colonial agents, to se 
cure the charter against their ancient foes, who had distinguished 
their restoration to power by the cruel Act of Uniformity ; and 
twenty-five years later, in a most important crisis, we find Massa 
chusetts again represented by a clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Increase 
Mather, who procured the provincial charter of 1694. Indeed, 
the clergy were generally consulted by the civil authorities ; 
and not infrequently the suggestions from the pulpit, on election 
days and other special occasions, 2 were enacted into laws. The 

1 Boston, Lincolnshire, England, derives its name from Mr. Botolph, or St. 
Botolph, who there built a monastery in 654; and in Botolph s town the present 
magnificent church, 245 by 98 feet within its walls, was built in 1309; and its 
lofty tower, 300 feet in height, is named in honor of St. Botolph. Mr. Pishey 
Thompson s History of Boston contains an elegant engraving and a minute 
account of this venerable pile. 

2 Among the causes for "fasting and humiliation," or "thanksgiving," as 
they appeared upon the records, are, " to seek the Lord for his direction " 
" to intreat the help of God " " for humiliation to seek the face of God " 



INTRODUCTION. XXIII 

statute-book, the reflex of the age, shows this influence. The State 
ivas developed out of the Church. 

The annual " ELECTION SERMON " a perpetual memorial, con 
tinued down through the generations from century to century 
still bears witness that our fathers ever oegan their civil year 
and its responsibilities with an appeal to Heaven, and recognized 
Christian morality as the only basis of good laws. 

The origin of this anniversary is to be found in the charter of 
"the governor and COMPANIE of the Massachusetts Bay in New 
England," which provided that " one governor, one deputy-gov 
ernor, and eighteen assistants, and all other officers of the said 
companie," not of the colony 1 , should be chosen in their 



" novelties, oppression, atheism, excess, superfluity, idleness, contempt of author 
ity, and troubles in other parts" of the world "to be remembered " " for 
the want of rain, and help of brethren in distress " " in regard of our wants, 
and the dangers of our native country" "for God s great mercy to the 
churches in Germany and the Palatinate" " for a bountiful harvest, and for 
the arrival of persons of special use and quality " " for success and safe return 
of the Pequot expedition, success of the conference at Newton, and good news 
from Germany " "sad condition of our native country." These occurred 
before the year 1644. May 29th, of that year, it was " ordered, the printer shall 
have leave to print the Election Sermon, with Mr. Mather s consent, and the 
Artillery Sermon, with Mr. Norton s consent." 

1 These were the officers of the " COMPANIE " in England ; but the charter also 
provided for another government in New England " for the formes and cere 
monies of government and magistracie h tt and necessary" in and for the " plan 
tation," or colony. Thus the charter ordained two governments, one for the 
" COMPANIE " iii England, and resident there, and one in and for the COLONY in 
New England, and two such governments existed, Mathewe Cradock being 
governor of the companie," and Endecott governor of the colony. The illegal 
transfer of the government of the "companie" to New England invalidated 
both governments, and rendered the colonial government, as provided for by 
the charter, practically impossible. As we have seen, Eudecott was the legally 
elected governor of the " plantation," and he was never legally displaced. On 
the 20th of October, 1629, Cradock resigning, Winthrop succeeded him as gover 
nor of the " companie," but not of the colony, for one year; and as the records 
show no election after, till May 18, 1631, there was an interregnum of about seven 
months, till \Vinthrop became dc facto, but not dejure, governor, the charter 
distinction between the " companie " and the " plantation " being winked out of 
sight, and the two made one in fact. " The whole structure of the charter pre- 



XXIV INTRODUCTION. 

" general court, or assemblie," on " the last Wednesday in Easter 
Terme, yearely, for the yeare ensuing." 

About the year 1633, the governor and assistants began to 
appoint one to preach on the day of election, and this was the first 
of our " Election Sermons." In a few years, the deputies, or repre 
sentatives, jealous of the power of the magistrates, challenged the 
appointment as theirs ; and the magistrates, unwilling " to have any 
fresh occasion of contestation with the deputies," yielded, though 
some judged it " a betraying, or, at least, weakening, the power of 
the magistrates, and a countenancing of an unjust usurpation. 
For," says Winthrop, " the deputies could do no such act, as an act 
of court, without the concurrence of the magistrates ; and out of 
court they had no power at all, but only for regulating their own 
body ; and it was resolved and voted at last court, according to the 
elders " ministers "advice, that all occurrents" orders 
" out of court belong to the magistrates to take care of, being the 
standing council of the Commonwealth." Such were the trifles which 
involved the popular character of our institutions. The occasion was 
simple ; the principle was momentous. So it was when Hampden 
refused to pay twenty shillings, and when our grandfathers resisted 
the Stamp Act and tea duty. Governor Winthrop s critical notice 
of the discourse by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, of Ipswich, in June 
1641, is, perhaps, the earliest sketch of an " Election Sermon" now 
to be found. It appears that " some of the freemen, without the 
consent of the magistrates or governor, had chosen Mr. Nathaniel 
Ward to preach at this court, pretending that it was a part of their 
liberty. The governor (whose right, indeed, it is, for, till the 
court be assembled, the freemen are but private persons) would 

supposes the residence of the company in England, and the transaction of all its 
business there." The removal was an "usurpation of authority; " but of its 
expediency and wisdom there can be no doubt. Story on the Constitution, 1. 
64, 65. Winthrop was not, de jure, governor, as were Conant and Endecott. 
See note 1, p. xi. 



INTRODUCTION. XXV 

not strive about it ; for, though it did not belong to them, yet, if they 
would have it, there was reason " since it could not be helped 
" to yield it to them. Yet they had no great reason to choose him, 
- though otherwise very able, seeing he had cast off his pastor s 
place at Ipswich, and was now no minister by. the received deter 
mination of our churches. In his sermon he delivered many useful 
things, but in a moral and political discourse, grounding his propo 
sitions much upon the old Roman and Grecian governments, which 
sure is an error ; for, if religion and the word of God make men 
wiser than their neighbors, and these men have the advantage of all 
that have gone before us in experience and observation, it is proba 
ble that, by all these helps, we may better frame rules of government 
for ourselves than to receive others upon the bare authority of the 
wisdom, justice, etc., of those heathen commonwealths. Among 
other things, he advised (he people to keep all their magistrates in an 
equal rank, and not give more honor or power to one than to another, 
which is easier to advise than to prove, seeing it is against the prac 
tice of Israel (where some were rulers of thousands, and some but 
of tens), and of all nations known or recorded. Another advice 
he gave, that magistrates should not give private advice, and take 
knowledge of any man s cause before it came to public hearing. 
This was delated after in the general court, where some of the deputies 
moved to have it ordered " and enacted into a law. 

By the charter of William and Mary, October 7th, 1691, the last 
Wednesday of May was established as election-day, and it remained 
so till the Revolution. The important part which this institution of 
the Election Sermon played at that period, and an account of its 
observance, are minutely and accurately presented by the Rev. 
William Gordon, of Roxbury, the contemporary historian of the 
Revolution, and in a manner so pertinent to our purpose that we 
give it entire. 

He says that the " ministers of New England, being mostly Con- 



XXVI INTRODUCTION. 

gregationalists, are, from that circumstance, in a professional way, 
more attached and habituated to the principles of liberty than if 
they had spiritual superiors to lord it over them, and were in hopes 
of possessing, in their turn, through the gift of government, the seat 
of power. They oppose arbitrary rule in civil concerns from the 
love of freedom, as well as from a desire of guarding against its 
introduction into religious matters. The patriots, for years back, 
have availed themselves greatly of their assistance. Two sermons 
have been preached annually for a length of time, the one on gen 
eral election-day, the last Wednesday in May, when the new general 
court have been used to meet, according to charter, and elect coun 
sellors for the ensuing year ; the other, some little while after, on the 
artillery election-day, when the officers are reelected, or new officers 
chosen. On these occasions political subjects are deemed very 
proper ; but it is expected that they be treated in a decent, serious, 
and instructive manner. The general election preacher has been 
elected alternately by the council and House of Assembly. The 
sermon is styled the Election Sermon, and is printed. Every repre 
sentative has a copy for himself, and generally one or more for the 
minister or ministers of his town. As the patriots have prevailed, 
the preachers of each sermon have been the zealous friends of lib 
erty ; and the passages most adapted to promote the spread and 
love of it have been selected and circulated far and wide by means 
of newspapers, and read with avidity and a degree of veneration 
on account of the preacher and his election to the service of the 
day. Commendations, both public and private, have not been 
wanting to help on the design. Thus, by their labors in the pulpit, 
and by furnishing the prints with occasional essays, the ministers 
have forwarded and strengthened, and that not a little, the oppo 
sition to the exercise of that parliamentary claim of right to bind 
the colonies in all cases whatever." 

Protestantism exchanged the altar for the pulpit, the missal for 



INTRODUCTION. XXVII 

the Bible ; the " priest" gave way to the " preacher," and the gos 
pel was " preached." The ministers were now to instruct the people, 
to reason before them and with them, to appeal to them ; and so, 
by their very position and relation, the people were constituted the 
judges. They were called upon to decide ; they also reasoned ; and 
in this way as the conflicts in the church respected polity rather 
than doctrine the Puritans, and especially the New Englanders, 
had, from the very beginning, been educated in the consideration of 
its elementary principles. In this we discover how it was, as Gov 
ernor Hutchinson remarked, that " men took sides in New England 
upon mere speculative points in government, when there was noth 
ing in practice which could give any grounds for forming parties." 
This was a remarkable feature in the opening of the Revolutionary 
war. It was recognized by Edmund Burke, in his speech of March 
22d, 1775, "on conciliation with the colonies." "Permit me, sir," 
he said, " to add another circumstance in our colonies, which contrib 
utes no mean part towards the growth and effect of this untractable 
spirit, / mean their education. In no country in the world, per 
haps, is the law so general a study. The profession itself is numer 
ous and powerful, and in most provinces it takes the lead. The 
greater number of the deputies sent to the congress" at Philadel 
phia "were lawyers. But all who read and most do read 
endeavor to obtain some smattering in that science. I have been 
told by an eminent bookseller, that in no branch of his business, 
after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as those on 
the law exported to the plantations. The colonists have now fallen 
into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear that they 
have sold nearly as many of Blackstone s Commentaries in America 
as in England. General Gage marks out this disposition very par 
ticularly in a letter on your table. He states that all the people in 
his government are lawyers, or smatterers in law ; and that in Boston 
they have been enabled, by successful chicane, wholly to evade 



XXVIII INTRODUCTION. 

many parts of your capital penal constitutions. . . . Aleunt 
studia in mores. This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexter 
ous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of resources. In other 
countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, 
judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance ; 
here," in the colonies "they anticipate the evil, and judge of the 
pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They 
augur misgovermnent at a distance, and snuff the approach of tyr 
anny in every tainted breeze " 

Mr. Webster studied this phase of our history. He says our 
fathers " went to war against a preamble ; they fought seven years 
against a declaration ; " that " we are not to wait till great public 
mischiefs come, till the government is overthrown, or liberty itself 
put in extreme jeopardy. We should not be worthy sons of our 
fathers were we so to regard great questions affecting the general 
freedom. Those fathers accomplished the Revolution on a strict ques 
tion of principle. The Parliament of Great Britain asserted a right 
to tax the colonies in all cases whatsoever ; and it was precisely on 
this question that they made the Revolution turn. The amount of 
taxation was trifling, but the claim itself was inconsistent with lib 
erty ; and that was, in their eyes, enough. It was against the recital 
of an act of Parliament, rather than against any suffering under its 

enactments, that they took up arms They poured out 

their treasures and their blood like water, in a contest in opposition 
to an assertion, which those less sagacious, and not so well schooled 
in the principles of civil liberty, would have regarded as barren 
phraseology, or mere parade of words. 

" They saw in the claim of the British Parliament a seminal 
principle of mischief, the germ of unjust power ; they detected it, 
dragged it forth from underneath its plausible disguises, struck at 
it; nor did it elude either their steady eye or their well-directed 
blow till they had extirpated and destroyed it to the smallest 



INTRODUCTION. XXIX 

fibre. On this question of principle, while actual suffering was yet 
afar off, they raised their flag against a power to which, for purposes 
of foreign conquest and subjugation, Rome, in the height of her 
glory, is not to be compared ; a power which has dotted over the 
surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts ; 
whose morning drum-beat, following the sun and keeping company 
with the hours, circles the earth daily with one continuous and 
unbroken strain 6f the martial airs of England." It is in this habit 
ual study of political ethics, of " the liberty of the gospel," perhaps 
the principal feature in New England history, that we discern the 
source of that earnestness which consciousness of right begets, and 
of those appeals to principle which distinguished the colonies, and 
which they were ever ready to vindicate with life and fortune. It 
is an interesting fact, in this connection, that the very able and 
learned defence of the ecclesiastical polity of New England, written 
by the Rev. John Wise, of Ipswich, one of the victims of the des 
potism of the infamous Andros, in 1687, was republished in the 
year 1772, as a sound political document for the times, teaching 
that " Democracy is Christ s government in Church and in State." 
Thus the church polity of New England begat like principles in 
the state. The pew and the pulpit had been educated to self-gov 
ernment. They were accustomed " to CONSIDER." The highest 
glory of the American Revolution, said John Quincy Adams, was 
this : it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil gov 
ernment with the principles of Christianity. 

With these antecedents of history and principle, it is apparent 
that nothing could be more revolting to the heart and head of 
New England than the idea of a bishopric within her borders ; 
and the rumor of such a project excited general alarm, and 
deepened the old loathing. Lord Chatham, in his celebrated letter 
to the king, wrote : " They left their native land in search of 

freedom, and found it in a desert. Divided as they are into a 

3* 



XXX INTRODUCTION. 

thousand forms of policy and religion, there is one point in which 
they all agree : they equally detest the pageantry of a king, and 
the supercilious hypocrisy of a bishop." Mr. Thomas Hollis, of 
London, wrote to Rev. Doctor Mayhew, of Boston, in the year 
1763: "You are in no real danger at present in respect to the 
creation of bishops in America, if I am rightly informed, though a 
matter extremely desired by our clergy and prelates, and even 
talked of greatly at this time among themselves. You cannot, 
however, be too much on your guard on this so very important an 
affair." Seeker, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had connived at 
the sending of a popish bishop to Quebec; and this exposed to full 
view the dishonesty, the utter recklessness of principle, and the 
popish sympathies, which then distinguished the government of 
England. 

The pulpit and the press were alive to the danger, and this alarm 
was but initiatory to the coining contest against civil wrong. They 
detected the same foe under the mitre and the gown. " If Parlia 
ment could tax us, they could establish the Church of England, 
with all its creeds, articles, tests, ceremonies, and tithes, and pro 
hibit all other churches, as conventicles and schism-shops." l 

A contemporary print, entitled " An Attempt to land a Bishop in 
America," gives the pressure of the times. The scene is at the 
wharf. Exclamations from the colonists, " No lords, spiritual or 
temporal, in New England!" "Shall they be obliged to maintain 
bishops who cannot maintain themselves !" salute the bishop s ears. 
On a banner, surmounted by a liberty-cap, is " Liberty and Free 
dom of Conscience ; " and " Locke," " Sydney on Government," 
" Calvin s Works," and " Barclay s Apology," bless his eyes ! The 
ship is shoved off shore ; on the deck is the bishop s carriage, the 
wheels off; the crosier and mitre hang in the rigging; and the 
" saint in lawn," with his gown floating in the breeze, has mounted 

1 John Adams s Works, x. 287, 288. 




. o4 



Engrayed for Erolhingliams History 



INTRODUCTION. XXXI 

the shrouds half way to the mast-head, and ejaculates, " Lord, now 
Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace ! " l 

The unanimity and efficient service of the Puritan clergy in 
the war of the Revolution, and the zeal of the Episcopal ministers 
and "missionaries" in their hostility to it, in perfect consistency 
with their spirit and principles, as exhibited by Dr. Mayhew, in 
1750, in his discourse on King Charles s " Sairitship and Martyr 
dom," are stated with almost statistical accuracy in a letter from 
Rev. Charles Inglis, Rector of Trinity Church, New York, October 
31, 1776. The writer was an Oxford D. D., and a missionary " for 
Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts." He was rewarded by 
a bishopric in Nova Scotia, none being attainable in the other 
colonies, except in Canada, where the preference of the government 
was for one direct from Rome. He states " that all the Society s 
missionaries, . . . and all the other clergy of our church, 
. . . have, to the utmost of their power, opposed the spirit of 
disaffection ; . . . . and, although their joint endeavors could 
not wholly prevent the rebellion, yet they checked it considerably 
for some time, and prevented many thousands from plunging into 

it, who otherwise would certainly have done so In 

their sermons they confined themselves to the doctrines of the 
gospel" as honor the king "without touching on politics. 2 

1 For the use of this plate, reengraved from the Political Register of 1769, for 
Mr. Frothingham s History of the Siege of Boston, grateful acknowledgment is 
made to that gentleman. 

2 " Without touching on politics"! The honesty of this Rev. Dr. is trans 
parent. His letter is wholly a boast of the political fidelity and services of the 
Episcopal clergy. The spirit of this " gospel " can be understood by the Rev. Dr. 
Tucker, Dean of Gloucester s, eulogy on the Roman Catholics, in 1779, which 
concludes that, u as to the behaviour of the Popish Priests of Canada, would to 
God that those who call themselves the Protestant ministers of the Gospel of 
Peace in New England had behaved half as well"! Could the Crown have 
flooded the country with its clergy of Oxford, or Rome, and " gospel " of abso 
lute obedience, and have silenced the Puritan clergy, who, with apostolic fidelity, 
" shunned not to declare unto you all the counsel of God," every seditious" or 
" rebellious" aspiration would have been hushed into the silence of death. 



XXXII INTRODUCTION. 

. . . Although liberty was the ostensible object, ... it 
is now past all doubt that an abolition of the Church of England 
was one of the principal springs of the dissenting leaders conduct, 
and hence the unanimity of the dissenters. . . . Nor have I 
been able, after strict inquiry, to hear of any who did not, by 
preaching, and every effort in their power, promote all the measures 
of the Congress, however extravagant. . . . I have not a doubt 
but . . . his Majesty s arms will be successful. ... In 
that case, if the steps are taken which reason, prudence, and 
common sense dictate," lords spiritual, tithes, etc., " the 
church will indubitably increase. . . . The dissenters will 
ever clamor against anything that will tend to benefit or increase 
the church " hierarchy " here. The present rebellion is cer 
tainly one of the most causeless, unprovoked, and unnatural, that 
ever disgraced any country ; a rebellion with peculiarly aggravated 
circumstances of guilt and ingratitude." l 

The religious character and views of the founders of New 
England also appear in bold relief in the foundation of the 
venerable seat of learning at Cambridge. " CHRISTO ET ECCLE- 
SLiE" heads the ancient seal of Harvard College, and the church 
was the colony. On the long roll of the benefactors of Harvard, 
the name of HoLLis 2 must ever stand preeminent in the regard 
of the whole country. In the year 1766, Thomas Hollis 3 wrote 
to the Rev. Dr. Mayhew, " More books, especially on government, 
are going for New England. Should those go safe, it is hoped that 
no principal books on that FIRST subject will be wanting in Har- 

1 Copied from " Hawkins s Missions" into the Congregational Quarterly, 1860, 
p. 311. 

2 For an account of this distinguished Baptist family, see President Quincy s 
History of Harvard College, index. 

3 He caused the reprint and circulation in England of James Otis s " Rights 
of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved," John Adams s "Dissertation on 
the Canon and Feudal Law," and Dr. Mayhew s writings. Allibone s "Dic 
tionary of Authors " has an ample notice of him. 



INTRODUCTION. XXXIII 

vard College, from the days of Moses to these times. Men of New 
England, brethren, use them for yourselves, and for others ; and 
God bless you ! " And again : " I confess to bear propensity, affec 
tion, towards the people of North America, those of Massachusetts 
and Boston in particular, believing them to be a good and brave 
people. Long may they continue such ! and the spirit of luxury, 
now consuming us to the very marrow here at home, kept out 
from them! One likeliest means to that end will be, to watch 
well over their youth, by bestowing on them a reasonable, manly 
education ; and selecting thereto the wisest, ablest, most accom 
plished of men that art or wealth can obtain ; for nations rise and 
fall by individuals, not numbers, as I think all history proveth. 
With ideas of this kind have I worked for the public library at 
Cambridge, in New England." 

An eloquent writer, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of those 
days, remarks, that " this truly ingenuous Englishman, in the range 
and direction of his literary beneficence, effectually refuted the 
seeming paradox, that a loyal subject of the monarchy in Britain 
might be an ardent and intelligent friend of the cause of free 
dom in America. The books he sent were often political, and 
of a republican stamp. And it remains for the perspicacity of our 
historians to ascertain what influence his benefactions and cor 
respondence had in kindling that spirit which emancipated these 
States from the shackles of colonial subserviency, by forming high- 
minded men, who, under Providence, achieved our independence. 

" Doubtless at the favored Seminary her sons drank deeply of 
the writings of MILTON, HARRINGTON, SYDNEY, LUDLOW, MAR- 
VELL, and LocKE. 1 These were there, by Mr. Hollis s exer- 

l In 1775, Dr. Tucker, Dean of Gloucester, announced as "preparing for the 
press, An expostulatory Letter, addressed to the Ministers of the several De 
nominations of Protestants in North America, occasioned by their preierring and 
inculcating principles of Mr. Lock, instead of those of the Gospel, relative to the 
original titles of civil governors." 



XXXIV INTRODUCTION. 

tions, political text-books. And the eminent men of that day 

were 

By antient learning to the enlightened love 

Of antient freedom warmed. "l 

President Stiles, of Yale College, said, in 1 783 : " The colleges 
have been of singular advantage in the present day. When 
Britain withdrew all of her wisdom from America, this Revolution 
found above two thousand in New England only, who had been 
educated in the colonies, intermixed among the people, and com 
municating knowledge among them." 

In Dr. Franklin s library were Locke, Hoadley, Sydney, Montes 
quieu, Priestley, Milton, Price, Gordon s Tacitus ; and in a picture 
of John Hancock, published in 1 780, are introduced portraits of 
Hampden, Cromwell, and Sydney. There are extant American 
reprints of these authors, or of portions of their works, issued prior 
to and during the Revolution, in a cheap form, for popular circu 
lation, addressing, not passion, but reason, diffusing sound principles, 
and begetting right feeling. There could hardly be found a more 
impressive, though silent, proof of the exalted nature of the contest 
on the part of the Americans, than a complete collection of their 
publications of that period. 

Who can limit the influences exerted over the common mind 
by these volumes of silent thought, eloquent for the rights of man 
and the blessings of liberty, fervid against wrong, the miseries of 
oppression and slavery, teaching that resistance to tyrants is 
obedience to God ? Who can doubt from what fountains he drank 
who dedicated " to all the patrons of real, perfect, and unpolluted 
liberty, civil and religious, throughout the world," his history of 
Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell, " three of its most illustrious and 
heroic, but unfortunate defenders"? These books and libraries 

l Rev. Dr. William Jenks s Eulogy on Bowdoin, Sept. 2d, 1812. 



INTRODUCTION. XXXV 

were the nurseries of " sedition ; " they were as secret emissaries 
propagating in every household, in every breast, at morning, in the 
noonday rest, by the evening light, in the pulpit, the forum, and the 
shop, principles, convictions, resolves, which sophistry could not 
overthrow, nor force extinguish. This was the secret of the strength 
of our fathers. Let us cherish it as worthy sons of noble sires. One 
yet among us. whose first inspiration was of the air breathed by the 
sons of liberty, whose patriot father s laurels are green around his 
own brow, 1 has given a lively picture of the reverential regard for 
the clergy at the period of the Revolution. 

" The whole space before the meeting-house was filled with a 
waiting, respectful, and expecting multitude. At the moment of 
service, the pastor issued from his mansion, with Bible and man 
uscript sermon under his arm, with his wife leaning on one arm, 
flanked by his negro man on his side, as his wife was by her negro 
woman, the little negroes being distributed, according to their sex, 
by the side of their respective parents. Then followed every other 
member of the family, according to age and rank, making often, 
with family visitants, somewhat of a formidable procession. As soon 
as it appeared, the congregation, as if moved by one spirit, began to 
move towards the door of the church ; and, before the procession 
reached it, all were in their places. As soon as the pastor entered 

l Hon. Josiah Quincy s sketch of Rev. Jonathan French, of Andover, in 
Sprague s Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 48. It is of singular inter 
est to refer to the following affectionate tribute to the memory of one of the 
noblest patriots, coupled as it is with a prayer for his only son, whose living 
presence among us is its answer. The passage is in a letter from the Rev. Wil 
liam Gordon, of Roxbury, dated April 26th, 1775. He says: " My friend Quincy 
has sacrificed his life for the sake of his country. The ship in which he sailed 
arrived at Cape Anne within these two days; but he lived not to get on shore, or 
to hear and triumph at the account of the success of the Lexington engagement. 
His remains will be honorably interred by his relations. Let him be numbered 
with the patriotic heroes who fall in the cause of liberty; and let his memory 
be dear to posterity. Let his only surviving child, a son of about three years, 
live to Assess his noble virtues, and to transmit his name down to future gener 
ations. 1 



XXXVI INTRODUCTION. 

the church the whole congregation rose, and stood until the pastor 
was in the pulpit and his family were seated, until which was 
done, the whole assembly continued standing. At the close of the 
service, the congregation stood until he and his family had left the 
church, before any one moved towards the door. Forenoon and 
afternoon the same course of proceeding was had, expressive of the 
reverential relation in which the people acknowledged that they 
stood towards their clergymen." But this was not " obedience ; " for 
there was no " authority," and no wish for it. -The idea was foreign 
to New England ; for resistance to it was the proximate cause of 
her colonization. It was a nobler, voluntary offering of respect, 
the decorum of the times. Such are the history, principles, 
education, position, and influence of the clergy, except the few, of 
foreign sympathy, and alien to the Commonwealth, who, at the open 
ing of the war, 

" Left their country for their country s good ; " 

and with what spirit, with what wisdom, with what learning and 
power they preached the liberty of the gospel, let these pages 
their own words bear witness. The story of their passive endur 
ance, their personal bravery and manly participation in their 
country s service in the years of her deepest misery, belongs not 
here ; they yet wait for justice from the historian. We have room 
for only one or two illustrations. In Danvers, the deacon of the 
parish was elected captain of the minute-men, and the minister his 
lieutenant. The company, after its field exercise, would sometimes 
repair to the meeting-house to hear a patriotic sermon, or partake 
of an entertainment at the town-house, where the zealous sons of 
liberty would exhort them to fight bravely for God and their coun 
try. At Lunenburg, the minute company, after going through sev 
eral military manoeuvres, marched to a public house, where the 
officers had provided an elegant entertainment for the company, 



INTRODUCTION. XXXVII 

a number of the respectable inhabitants of the town, and patriotic 
ministers of the towns adjacent. They then marched in military 
procession to the meeting-house, where the Rev. Mr. Adams deliv 
ered an excellent sermon, suitable to the occasion, from Psalm 
xxvii. 3. Mr. Frothingham, from whose excellent history of the 
siege of Boston these instances are taken, says that the journals of 
the period abound in paragraphs of similar interest. 

In 1774, when the whole country was in misery, in the travail 
which preceded the birth of the nation, the First Provincial Con 
gress of Massachusetts acknowledged with profound gratitude the 
public obligation to the ministry, as friends of civil and religious 
liberty, and invoked their aid, in the following address : 

" REVEREND SIRS : When we contemplate the friendship and 
assistance our ancestors, the first settlers of this province (while 
overwhelmed with distress), received from the pious pastors of the 
churches of Christ, who, to enjoy the rights of conscience, fled with 
them into this land, then a savage wilderness, we find ourselves 
filled with the most grateful sensations. And we cannot but ac 
knowledge the goodness of Heaven in constantly supplying us with 
preachers of the gospel, whose concern has been the temporal and 
spiritual happiness of this people. 

" In a day like this, when all the friends of civil and religious 
liberty are exerting themselves to deliver this country from its pres 
ent calamities, we cannot but place great hopes in an order of men 
who have ever distinguished themselves in their country s cause ; 
and do, therefore, recommend to the ministers of the gospel in the 
several towns and other places in the colony, that they assist us in 
avoiding that dreadful slavery with which we are now threatened, 
by advising the people of their several congregations, as they wish 
their prosperity, to abide by, and strictly adhere to, the resolutions 
of the Continental Congress," at Philadelphia, in October, 1774, " as 
the most peaceable and probable method of preventing confusion 



XXXVIII INTRODUCTION. 

and bloodshed, and of restoring that harmony between Great Britain 
and these colonies, on which we wish might be established not only 
the rights and liberties of America, but the opulence and lasting 
happiness of the whole British empire. 

" Resolved, That the foregoing address be presented to all the 
ministers of the gospel in the province." 

Thus it is manifest, in the spirit of our history, in our annals, and 
by the general voice of the fathers of the republic, that, in a very 
great degree, 

To THE PULPIT, THE PURITAN PULPIT, WE OWE THE 

MORAL FORCE WHICH WON OUR INDEPENDENCE. 

J. W. T. 

BOSTON, OCTOBER, 1860. 



DISCOURSE 

CONCERNING 

Unlimited Submiffion 

AND 

Non-Reliftance 

TO THE 

HIGHER POWERS: 

With fome REFLECTIONS on the RESISTANCE made to 

King CHARLES I. 

AND ON THE 

Anniversary of his Death: 

In which the MYSTERIOUS Doctrine of that Prince s 
Saintfhip and Martyrdom is UNRIDDLED : 

The Subftance of which was delivered in a SERMON preached in 
the Weft Meeting- Houfe in Bofton the LORD S-DAY after the 
3oth of January, 1749 | 50. 

Publijbed at the Requeft of the Hearers. 

By JONATHAN MAYHEW, A. M. 

Paftor of the Weft Church in Bofton. 

Fear GOD, honour the King. Saint PAUL. 

He that ruleth over Men, muft be juft, ruling in the Fear of GOD. 

Prophet SAMUEL. 

/ ha--ve faid, ye are Gods but ye fhall die like Men, and fall like 
one of the PRINCES. King DAVID. 

Qmd memorem infandas csedes ? quid facia TYRANNI 
EfFera ? Dii CAPITI ipfius GENERIQUE refervent 
Necnon Threicius longa cum vefte S ACER DOS 
Obloquitur Rom. Vat. Prin. 

BOSTON, Printed and Sold by D. FOWLE in Queen-ftreet ; 
and by D. GOOKIN over againft the South Meeting-Houfe. 1750. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



THIS celebrated discourse was delivered on the anniversary of the 
death of the tyrant Charles I. of England, which, at the suggestion 
of the courtiers, on the restoration of the monarchy, was, by the 
" Supreme Governor of the Church," made a national fast, and the 
tyrant canonized as one of "the noble army of martyrs." After enjoy 
ing the nobility of martyrdom for about two centuries, the tyrant s 
name has, by Act of Parliament, 1859, been quietly expunged from the 
prayer-book, this holy-day of "The Christian Year" abolished; and 
thus the " martyr," and whole reams of partisan rhetoric, rhapsodies, 
and poetry, are left among the other follies of the past. The church 
could no longer bear the reproach. " Let his memory, Lord, be 
ever blessed among us," could no longer be uttered with solemn mockery 
at the altar. 

The anniversary has been observed in a manner worthy of its hero 
and his admirers. By authority, the minister was compelled on that 
day to read the Oxford homily " against disobedience and wilful 
rebellion, or preach a sermon of his own composing upon the same 
argument"! One example of their impious utterances will suffice. 
It is the title of one of their sermons : " A true Parallel betwixt the 
Sufferings of our Saviour and our Sovereign in divers particulars." 
Another of these reverend blasphemers, preaching before a convocation 
of the church in 1701, said: " One would imagine that they were resolved 
to take St. Paul s expression in the most literal sense the words will 
bear, and crucify to themselves the Lord afresh, and, in the nearest 
likeness that could be, put him to an open shame. If, with respect 
to the dignity of the person, to have been born King of the Jews 
was what ought to have screened our Saviour from violence, here is 
also one not only born to a crown, but actually possessed of it; 

4* 



42 



he was not just dressed up for an hour or two in 

purple robes, and saluted with a Hail, king. In 

respect only of their being heated to the degree of frenzy and madness, 
the plea in my text may seem to have some hold of them. Father, 
forgive them, for they know not what they do. " Such were the usual 
" church " oracles on this Fast-day. " Among his own partisans," 
says Godwin, "the death of Charles was treated, and Avas spoken of, 
as a sort of deicide." Clarendon gave the key-note : " The most execrable 
murder ever committed since that of our blessed Saviour"! The servile 
and degrading tenet of absolute obedience was taught; and why should 
it not be, since the University of Oxford declared "submission and obedi 
ence, -clear, absolute, and without exception, to be the badge and character 
of the Church of England." Hallam says that the high tory principles 
of the Anglican clergy, of absolute non-resistance, had nearly proved 
destructive of the whole constitution. " It was the tenet of their homilies, 
their canons, their most distinguished divines and casuists. . . . We 
can frame no adequate conception of the jeopardy in which our liberties 
stood under the Stuarts, especially in this particular period, without 
attending to this spirit of servility which had been so sedulously 
excited." 

It was ever a darling project with these worthies to establish American 
bishoprics. The " Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts," 
established in 1701, as it was administered by its clerical managers, 
seemed to be rather a society for propagating the hierarchy, especially 
in New England. Archbishop Tenison, its first president, dying in 1715, 
bequeathed to it 1000 towards maintaining the first bishop who should 
be settled in America, and Archbishop Seeker left another 1000 for 
the same purpose. 

The " Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts " 
seemed, to intelligent men in New England, to be a mere disguise for 
introducing prelacy 1 " lords spiritual " into the land, and it was 

1 We find a notice of the society, at this day, by an English correspondent 
of The Independent, May 24, 1860, who says that it " enjoys the patronage 
of the High-Church dignitaries, and has a large income, say $600,000, annu 
ally. It has three hundred missionaries, supplemented by schoolmasters, 
catechists, and Scripture-readers. It is an affecting fact, that this old and strong 
society for the propagation of the gospel propagates another gospel which is 
not another, and is inimical to the cross of Christ. Its gospel is prelacy and 
clerical authority. It insists that men shall be called master, and that rites and 



43 



Mr. Mayhew s " desire to contribute a mite towards carrying on a war 
against this common enemy " that produced the following discourse. 
By its bold inquisition into the slavish teachings veiled in "the mys 
terious doctrine of the saintship and martyrdom" of Charles I., and 
its eloquent exposition of the principles of good government and of 
Christian manhood in the state, maddening the corrupt, frightening 
the timid, rousing the apathetic, and bracing the patriot heart, this 
celebrated sermon may be considered as the MORNING GUN OF THE 
REVOLUTION, the punctum temporis when that period of history began. 1 
Of the several English editions, one was published in Barrow s " Pillars 
of Priestcraft Shaken," 1752, in a copy of which Thomas Hollis, of 
London, wrote: "This very curious dissertation on government . . . 
is the first on that subject that has been produced" in later times 
"from the American world." It was the medium of Mr. Hollis s 
friendship to Mayhew and Harvard College; and so, incidentally, 
operated wonderfully in favor of the cause of liberty, civil and religious, 
in America. Its effect on the public mind was decided and permanent. 
From this moment the dawn of independence the spirit of the 
people was aroused, ever gathering force and intensity, ever narrowing 
and concentrating in the idea of resistance, more and more distinctly 
as the spirit of arbitrary power expressed itself in acts more and more 
offensive, until RESISTANCE culminated in bloodshed in 1775, and 
triumphed in peace in 1783. Robert Treat Paine called Dr. Mayhew 
"The Father of Civil and Religious Liberty in Massachusetts and 
America." 
The preacher was then in the thirtieth year of his age. The manner 



observances, taught and practised by the proper masters of ceremonies, avail 
everything. The essential spirit of Popery pervades the society, and its secre 
tary, the Rev. Ernest Hawkins, was one of the earliest adherents to the new" 
revived " Oxford apostasy." 
1 The total change of political relation and ideas, of manners and prejudices, 

the fading of the old feeling of deference for rank, the last "tinge of feudality, 

effected in the changes and passages of a century, renders it difficult now to 
realize the severity of the tests of temper, of courage, manliness, faithfulness, 
amid which these words were spoken from Dr. May hew s pulpit; words so 
bold, so decided ; allusions so direct and pointed that none could mistake, none 
could evade; principles so fatal to despotic polity in church or state as to wear 
the very garb of rebellion. Though now familiar to the public mind, and of 
the essence of our institutions, they then required a courage of the highest 
quality, the truest temper. 



44 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

in which the discourse was received by the Tories and Churchmen may 
be inferred from the manly and characteristic " advertisement " prefixed 
to the first edition. It was as follows : " The author of this discourse 
has been credibly informed, that some persons, both formerly and 
lately, have wrote either at or about him or something (he cannot 
well tell what) in the common newspapers, which he does not often read. 
He, therefore, takes this opportunity to assure the writers of that rank, 
and in that form, once for all, that they may slander him as much as 
they please, without his notice, and, very probably, without his knowl 
edge. But if any person of common sense and common honesty shall 
condescend to animadvert, in a different way, upon anything which he 
has published, he may depend upon having all proper regard shown 
to him. J. M." 

The authorship, and of course the nature, of this " slander," is more 
than hinted at by the elder President Adams, who exclaims, after 
speaking of Dr. Mayhew as " a whig of the first magnitude, a clergy 
man equalled by very few of any denomination in piety, virtue, genius, 
or learning; whose works will maintain his character as long as New 
England shall be free, integrity esteemed, or wit, spirit, humor, reason, 
and knowledge admired;" yet "how was he treated from the press? 
Did not the reverend tories who were pleased to write against him, the 
missionaries of defamation as well as bigotry and passive obedience, in 
their pamphlets and newspapers, bespatter him all over with their filth? 
Did they not, with equal falsehood and malice, charge him with every 
evil thing?" 

It was Dr. Mayhew who suggested to James Otis the idea -of com 
mittees of correspondence, a measure of the greatest efficiency in 
producing concert of action between the colonies a thing of vital 
importance. Dr. Mayhew died soon after this, and the letter to Otis 
is interesting as his last word for the liberty of his country : 

"LoRD s-DAY MORNING, June 8th, 1766. 

* SIR : To a good man all time is holy enough ; and none is too 
holy to do good, or to think upon it. Cultivating a good understanding 
and hearty friendship between these colonies appears to me so necessary 
a part of prudence and good policy, that no favorable opportunity for 
that purpose should be omitted. I think such an one now presents. 

" Would it not be proper and decorous for our assembly to send 
circulars to all the rest, on the late repeal of the Stamp Act and the 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 45 

present favorable aspect of affairs ? letters conceived at once in terras 
of friendship and regard, of loyalty to the king, filial affection towards 
the parent country, and expressing a desire to cement and perpetuate 

union among ourselves, by all laudable methods Pursuing 

this course, or never losing sight of it, may be of the greatest importance 
to the colonies, perhaps the only means of perpetuating their liberties. 
You have heard of the communion of churches; and I am to 
set out to-morrow morning for Rutland, to assist at an ecclesiastical 
council. Not expecting to return this week, while I was thinking of 
this in my bed, the great use and importance of a communion of colonies 
appeared to me in a strong light; which led me immediately to set down 
these hints to transmit to you. Not knowing but the General Court 
may be prorogued or dissolved before my return, or my having an 
opportunity to speak with you, I now give them, that you may make 
such use of them as you think proper, or none at all." 

A very comprehensive notice of Dr. Mayhew s character and writings 
is among the elder Adams s papers. He says: "This divine had repu 
tation both in Europe and America, by the publication of a volume of 
seven sermons, in the reign of King George the Second, 1749, and by 
many other writings, particularly a sermon, in 1750, on the 30th of 
January, on the subject of passive obedience and non-resistance, in 
which the saintship and martyrdom of King Charles the First are 
considered, seasoned with wit and satire superior to any in Swift or 
Franklin. It was read by everybody ; celebrated by friends, and 
abused by enemies. During the reigns of King George the First and 
King George the Second, the reigns of the Stuarts, the two Jameses 
and the two Charleses, were in general disgrace in England. In America 
they had always been held in abhorrence. The persecutions and cruelties 
suffered by their ancestors under those reigns had been transmitted by 
history and tradition, and May hew seemed to be raised up to revive 
all the animosities against tyranny, in church and state, and at the 
same time to destroy their bigotry, fanaticism, and inconsistency. 
David Hume s plausible, elegant, fascinating, and fallacious apology, 
in which he varnished over the crimes of the Stuarts, had not then 
appeared. To draw the character of Mayhew would be to transcribe 
a dozen volumes. This transcendent genius threw all the weight of 
his great fame into the scale of his country in 1761, and maintained 
it there with zeal and ardor till his death, in 1766." 



46 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

Dr. Mayhew was born, of an honorable family, at Martha s Vineyard, 
on the 8th of October, 1720. On the 17th of June, 1747, three years 
after his graduation at Harvard College with great reputation, he was 
ordained pastor of the West Church in Boston, of which the venerable 
Dr. Lowell is now pastor. The charge on the occasion came from the 
lips of his father, the Rev. Experience Mayhew, the distinguished 
missionary to the Indians. In his sermon on the repeal of the Stamp 
Act, 17G6, there is this passage of autobiography: "Having been initiated 
in youth in the doctrines of civil liberty, as they were taught by such 
men as Plato, Demosthenes, Cicero, and other renowned persons, among 
the ancients; and such as Sydney and Milton, Locke and Hoadley, 
among the moderns, I liked them; they seemed rational. And having 
learnt from the holy Scriptures that wise, brave, and virtuous men 
were always friends to liberty, that God gave the Israelites a king in 
his anger, because they had not sense and virtue enough to like a free 
commonwealth, and that where * the Spirit of the Lord is, there is 
liberty/ this made me conclude that freedom was a great blessing." 

His degree of Doctor of Divinity was presented to him, by the Uni 
versity of Aberdeen, in 1751, the year after his sermon of January 
30th. 

Critical notices of his numerous publications may be found in Dr. 
Eliot s admirable sketch of his life and character, one of the best of 
Dr. Eliot s biographical delineations. 

Beloved for his pastoral fidelity and generous deeds, distinguished 
for his genius and intellectual strength, eminent in both Englands as 
a scholar and divine, revered as a true lover of liberty and ardent 
Christian patriot, this noble man died, at Boston, July 19th, 1766, .aged 
forty-five years, mourned by the great and the good. 

The likeness of Dr. Mayhew in this volume is copied from a print in the 
Memoirs of Thomas Hollis, Esq., 1780. The original was a crayon, taken 
in Boston, probably by Smibert. Mr. Hollis paid Cypriani thirty guineas 
for the allegorical designs and engraving, which, being in quarto, could 
not be all reproduced in this smaller picture. 



PREFACE. 



THE ensuing Discourse is the last of three upon the same 
subject, with some little alterations and additions. It is hoped 
that but few will think the subject of it an improper one to 
be discoursed on in the pulpit, under a notion that this is 
preaching politics, instead of Christ. However, to remove 
all prejudices of this sort, I beg it may be remembered that 
" all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for cor 
rection, for instruction in righteousness." a * Why, then, should 
not those parts of Scripture which relate to civil government 
be examined and explained from the desk, as well as others ? 
Obedience to the civil magistrate is a Christian duty ; and 
if so, why should not the nature, grounds, and extent of it 
be considered in a Christian assembly ? Besides, if it be said 
that it is out of character for a Christian minister to meddle 
with such a subject, this censure will at last fall upon the 
holy apostles. They write upon it in their epistles to Chris- 

a 2 Peter iii. 16. 

l The author s notes are designated by letters; the editor s by figures, and 
signed ED. 



48 PREFACE. 

tian churches ; and surely it cannot be deemed either criminal 
or impertinent to attempt an explanation of their doctrine. 

It was the near approach of the thirtieth of January that 

* 
turned my thoughts to this subject : on which solemnity the 

slavish doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance is 
often warmly asserted, 1 and the dissenters from the Established 



1 For example: On the day of the execution of Lord William Russell, 1683, 
the University of Oxford declared " submission and obedience, clear, absolute, 
and without exception, to be the badge and character of the Church of England." 

The Rev. John Clerke, in a sermon at Rochester Cathedral, May 29, 1684, said : 
" Whosoever shall compare the trial of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, before 
Pontius Pilate s first high court of justice, with the arraignment of our late most 
barbarously murdered king before John Bradshaw s second, shall find them to 
differ no more than a faithful copy from its original, with conditions exactly 
parallel, and, I had almost said, alike in sufferings, alike in innocence; . . . 
the Breath of our nostrils, the Anointed of the Lord, . . . the only true Vice 
gerent of Jesus Christ, that supreme Bishop of our souls." 

The Rev. Henry Sacheverell, D. D., preached at the cathedral in London, No 
vember 5, 1709, " the subject s obligation to absolute and unconditional obedience 
to the supreme power in all things lawful, and the utter illegality of resistance, 
upon any pretence whatsoever. The Englishman is born with an innate, sullen 
principle of discontent, which directly interferes with that inward quiet, that 
sedate serenity of mind, which is alone able to yield true peace and satisfaction, 
. . . and he will forsake the true Fountain of living ivater, the Church of 
England. ... He sends his children, in their tender years, to suck in those 
deadly envenomed principles that are but too commonly prated up in conventi 
cles, those seminaries of murmuring and nurseries of rebellion ; . . . and 
actually engage their unstable minds . . . against the king s sacred person, 
his serene and happy government." 

"It may be hoped," said the philosopher Locke, " the ages to come, redeemed 
from the impositions of these Egyptian under-task-masters, will abhor the mem 
ory of such servile flatterers, who, whilst it seemed to serve their turn, rested all 
government into absolute tyranny, and would have all men born to, what their 
mean souls fitted them for, slavery. " Yet in New England, and in our own times, 
these " Egyptian " monstrosities are eulogized as sentiments of the highest sublim 
ity" u the badge and character of the Church of England." Oliver s Puritan 
Commonwealth, 1856, pp. 482-3. Indeed, Lord King says, As for toleration, or 
any true notion of religious liberty, or any general freedom of conscience, we 
owe them not in the least degree to what is called the Church of England. On 
the contrary, we owe all these to the Independents in the time of the Common 
wealth, and to Locke, their most illustrious and enlightened disciple." ED. 



PREFACE. 49 

Church represented not only as schismatics (with more of 
triumph than of truth, and of choler than Christianity), but 
also as persons of seditious, traitorous, and rebellious princi 
ples. 1 God be thanked ! one may, in any part of the British 
dominions, speak freely if a decent regard be paid to those 
in authority both of government and religion, and even 
give some broad hints that he is engaged on the side of lib 
erty, the Bible, and common sense, in opposition to tyranny, 
priestcraft, and nonsense,* without being in danger either of 
the Bastile or the Inquisition, though there will always be 
some interested politicians, contracted bigots, and hypocritical 
zealots for a party, to take offence at such freedoms. Their 
censure is praise ; their praise is infamy. A spirit of domi 
nation is always to be guarded against, both in church and 
state, even in times of the greatest security, such as the 



1 The author wrote to Benjamin Avery, LL. D , of Grey s Hospital, London: 
" I have ventured to send you a discourse which I published last winter, about 
the time that the Episcopal clergy here are often seized with a strange sort of 
frenzy, which I know not how to describe, unless it be by one or two of its most 
remarkable symptoms. These are, preaching passive obedience, worshipping 
King Charles I., and cursing the Dissenters and Puritans for murdering him. 
You possibly have seen persons in this melancholy condition, as you have so 
much concern with a hospital, but especially if your humanity as is very 
likely has ever led you to Bedlam, to relieve the pitiable objects there." Thir 
teen years afterward, Dr. Mayhew, referring to this passage, wrote: "Some 
of the Episcopal Clergy here used, on the same occasion, to assert the divine, 
hereditary, and indefeasible right of kings, in direct, manifest opposition to the 
principles of the Revolution; almost deifying Archbishop LAUD, as well as 
Charles I.; calumniating Nonconformists as schismatics, fanatics, persons of 
republican, rebellious principles, and imitating, as far as they were able, the 
manner and style of the keenest, severest sermons ever published in England on 
the same occasion " January 30th. ED. 

5 



50 PREFACE. 

present is among us, at least as to the latter. Those nations 
who are now groaning under the iron sceptre of tyranny 
were once free ; so they might probably have remained, by 
a seasonable precaution against despotic measures. Civil 
tyranny is usually small in its beginning, like " the drop of a 
bucket," a till at length, like a mighty torrent, or the raging 
waves of the sea, it bears down all before it, and deluges 
whole countries and empires. Thus it is as to ecclesiastical 
tyranny also the most cruel, intolerable, and impious of 
any. From small beginnings, " it exalts 4tself above all that 
is called God and that is worshipped." b People have no 
security against being unmercifully priest-ridden but by keep 
ing all imperious bishops, and other clergymen who love to 
" lord it over God s heritage," from getting their foot into the 
stirrup at all. 1 Let them be once fairly mounted, and their 
"beasts, the laity," c may prance and flounce about to no 
purpose ; and they will at length be so jaded and hacked by 
these reverend jockeys, that they will not even have spirits 
enough to complain that their backs are galled, or, like 
Balaam s ass, to " rebuke the madness of the prophet." d 

"The mystery of iniquity began to work" 6 even in the 
days of some of the apostles. But the kingdom of Antichrist 
was then, in one respect, like the kingdom of heaven, how- 

a Isaiah xi. 15. c Mr. Leslie. e 2 Thess. ii. 7. 

b 2 Thess. ii. 4 (12 1 eter ii. 16. 

1 Especially in America, toward which they did cast longing eyes. ED. 



PREFACE. 51 

over different in all others ; it was " as a grain of mustard- 
seed." a This grain was sown in Italy, that fruitful field, 
and, though it were " the least of all seeds," it soon became a 
mighty tree. It has long since overspread and darkened the 
greatest part of Christendom, so that we may apply to it what 
is said of the tree which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his vision : 
" The height thereof reacheth unto heaven, and the sight 
thereof to the end of all the earth ; and the beasts of the field 
have shadow under it." Tyranny brings ignorance and bru 
tality along with it. It degrades men from their just .rank 
into the class of brutes ; it damps their spirits ; it suppresses 
arts ; it extinguishes every spark of noble ardor and gener 
osity in the breasts of those who are enslaved by it ; it makes 
naturally strong and great minds feeble and little, and tri 
umphs over the ruins of virtue and humanity. This is true 
of tyranny in every shape : there can be nothing great and 
good where its influence reaches. For which reason it be 
comes every friend to truth and human kind, every lover of 
God and the Christian religion, to bear a part in opposing 
this hateful monster. It was a desire to contribute a mite 
towards carrying on a war with this common enemy l that 

a Matt. xiii. 21. 

l To Dr. George Benson he wrote: " I was, about this time, much provoked 
by the senseless clamors of some tory-spirited Churchmen ; this being the 
strange spirit which seems to prevail among the Episcopal clergy here even to 
this day." ED. 



52 PREFACE. 

produced the following Discourse; and if it serve in any 
measure to keep up a spirit of civil and religious liberty 
amongst us, my end is answered. There are virtuous and 
candid men in all sects ; all such are to be esteemed. There 
are also vicious men and bigots in all sects, and all such 
ought to be despised. 

"To Virtue only and her friends a friend; 
The world beside may murmur or commend: 
Know, all the distant din that world can keep 
Rolls o er my grotto, and but soothes my sleep." POPE. 

JONATHAN MAYHEW. 



DISCOURSE I. 

UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND NON-RESISTANCE TO THE 
HIGHER POWERS. 



LET EVERY SOUL BE SUBJECT UNTO THE HIGHER POWERS. FOR THERE IS 
NO POWER BUT OF GOD : THE POWERS THAT BE ARE ORDAINED OF GOD. 
WHOSOEVER THEREFORE RESISTETH THE POWER, RESISTETH THE ORDI 
NANCE OF GOD: AND THEY THAT RESIST SHALL RECEIVE TO THEMSELVES 
DAMNATION. FOR RULERS ARE NOT A TERROR TO GOOD WORKS, BUT TO 
THE EVIL. WILT THOU THEN NOT BE AFRAID OF THE POWER? DO THAT 
WHICH IS GOOD, AND THOU SHALT HAVE PRAISE OF THE SAME ; FOR HE 
IS THE MINISTER OF GOD TO THEE FOR GOOD. BUT IF THOU DO THAT 
WHICH IS EVIL, BE AFRAID; FOR HE BEARETH NOT THE SWORD IN VAIN: 
FOR HE IS THE MINISTER OF GOD, A REVENGER TO EXECUTE WRATH UPON 
HIM THAT DOETH EVIL. WHEREFORE YE MUST NEEDS BE SUBJECT, NOT 
ONLY FOR WRATH, BUT ALSO FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE. FOR, FOR THIS CAUSE 
PAY YOU TRIBUTE ALSO: FOR THEY ARE GOD S MINISTERS, ATTENDING 
CONTINUALLY UPON THIS VERY THING. RENDER THEREFORE TO ALL THEIR 
DUES: TRIBUTE TO WHOM TRIBUTE IS DUE; CUSTOM TO WHOM CUSTOM; 
FEAR TO WHOM FEAR ; HONOR TO WHOM HONOR. Romans xiii. 1 8. 

IT is evident that the affairs of civil government may 
properly fall under a moral and religious consideration, at 
least so far forth as it relates to the general nature and 
end of magistracy, and to the grounds and extent of that 
submission which persons of a private character ought to 
yield to those who are vested with authority. This must 
be allowed by all who acknowledge the divine original of 
Christianity. For, although there be a sense, and a very 
plain and important sense, in which Christ s kingdom is 
not of this world,* his inspired apostles have, nevertheless, 
laid down some general principles concerning the office 

a John xviii. 36. 

5* 



54 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

of civil rulers, and the duty of subjects, together with the 
reason and obligation of that duty. And from hence it 
follows, that it is proper for all who acknowledge the au 
thority of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of his apostles, 
to endeavor to understand what is in fact the doctrine 
which they have delivered concerning this matter. It is 
the duty of Christian magistrates to inform themselves 
what it is which their religion teaches concerning the na 
ture and design of their office. And it is equally the duty 
of all Christian people to inform themselves what it is 
which their religion teaches concerning that subjection 
which they owe to the higher powers. It is for these rea 
sons that I have attempted to examine into the Scripture 
account of this matter, in order to lay it before you with 
the same freedom which I constantly use with relation to 
other doctrines and precepts of Christianity ; not doubting 
but you will judge upon everything offered to your con 
sideration with the same spirit of freedom and liberty with 
which it is spoken. 

The passage read is the most full and express of any in 
the New Testament relating to rulers and subjects; and 
therefore I thought it proper to ground upon it what I had 
to propose to you with reference to the authority of the 
civil magistrate, and the subjection which is due to him. 
But, before I enter upon an explanation of the several 
parts of this passage, it will be proper to observe one 
thing, which may serve as a key to the whole of it. 

It is to be observed, then, that there were some persons 
amongst the Christians of the apostolic age, and particu 
larly those at Rome, to whom St. Paul is here writing, who 
seditiously disclaimed all subjection to civil authority; 
refusing to pay taxes, and the duties laid upon their traffic 
and merchandise ; and who scrupled not to speak of their 
rulers without any due regard to their office and character. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 55 

Some of these turbulent Christians were converts from 
Judaism, and others from Paganism. The Jews in general 
had, long before this time, taken up a strange conceit, that, 
being the peculiar and elect people of God, they were 
therefore exempted from the jurisdiction of any heathen 
princes or governors. Upon this ground it was that some 
of them, during the public ministry of our blessed Sav 
iour, came to him with that question, " Is it lawful to give 
tribute unto Cresar, ornot?" a And this notion many of 
them retained after they were proselyted to the Christian 
faith. As to the Gentile converts, some of them grossly 
mistook the nature of that liberty which the gospel prom 
ised, and thought that by virtue of their subjection to 
Christ, the only king and head of his church, they were 
wholly freed from subjection to any other prince; as though 
Christ s kingdom had been of this world in such a sense 
as to interfere with the civil powers of the earth, and to 
deliver their subjects from that allegiance and duty which 
they before owed to them. Of these visionary Christians 
in general, who disowned subjection to the civil powers in 
being where they respectively lived, there is mention made 
in several places in the New Testament. The apostle 
Peter, in particular, characterizes them in this manner: 
them that "despise government, presumptuous are they ; 
self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities." b 
Now, it is with reference to these doting Christians that 
the apostle speaks in the passage before us. And I shall 
now give you the sense of it in a paraphrase upon each 
verse in its order ; desiring you to keep in mind the char 
acter of the persons for whom it is designed, that so, as I 
go along, you may see how just and natural this address 
is, and how well suited to the circumstances of those 
against whom it is levelled. 

a Matt. xxii. 17. b 2 Pet. ii. 10. 



56 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

The apostle begins thus: "Let every soul a be subject 
unto the higher powers ; b for there is no power c but of 
God; the powers that be d are ordained of God; c " f q. d., 
" Whereas some professed Christians vainly imagine that 
they are wholly excused from all manner of duty and sub 
jection to civil authority, refusing to honor their rulers 
and to pay taxes; which opinion is not only unreasonable 
in itself, but also tends to fix a lasting reproach upon the 
Christian name and profession I now, as an apostle and 
ambassador of Christ, exhort every one of you, be he who 
he will, to pay all dutiful submission to those who are 
vested with any civil office ; for there is, properly speak 
ing, no authority but what is derived from God, as it is 
only by his permission and providence that any possess 
it. Yea, I may add, that all civil magistrates, as such, 
although they may be heathens, are appointed and ordained 
of God. For it is certainly God s will that so useful an 



a "Every soul." This is a Hebraism, which signifies every man; so that the 
apostle does not exempt the clergy, such as were endowed with the gift of 
prophecy or any other miraculous powers which subsisted in the church at that 
day. And by his using the Hebrew idiom, it seems that he had the Jewish con 
verts principally in his eye. 

b " The higher powers; more literally, the over-ruling powers ; which term 
extends to all civil rulers in common. 

c J3y " power the apostle intends, not lawless strength and brutal force, with 
out regulation and proper direction, but just authority; for so the word here 
used properly signifies. There may be power where there is no authority. No 
man has any authority to do what is wrong and injurious, though he may have 
the power to do it. 

(1 The powers that be/ Those persons who are in fact vested with authority; 
those who are in possession. And who those are, the apostle leaves Christians to 
determine for themselves; but whoever they are, they are to be obeyed. 

c " Ordained of God." As it is not without God s providence and permission 
that any are clothed with authority; and as it is agreeable to the positive will 
and purpose of God that there should be some persons vested with authority for 
the good of society; not that any rulers have their commission from God, the 
supreme Lord of the universe. If any assert that kings, or any other rulers, are 
ordained of God in the latter sense, it is incumbent upon them to show the com 
mission which they speak of under the broad seal of heaven. And when they do 
this, they will, no doubt, be believed. 

f Rom. xiii. 1. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 57 

institution as that of magistracy should take place in the 
world for the good of civil society." The apostle pro 
ceeds: "Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth 
the ordinance of God ; and they that resist shall receive to 
themselves damnation." a q. d., "Think not, therefore, that 
ye are guiltless of any crime or sin against God, when 
ye factiously disobey and resist the civil authority. For 
magistracy and government being, as I have said, the 
ordinance and appointment of God, it follows, that to 
resist magistrates in the execution of their offices, is really 
to resist the will and ordinance of God himself; and they 
who thus resist will accordingly be punished by God for this 
sin, in common with others." The apostle goes on : " For 
rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. b 
Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that 
which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same ; 
for he is the minister of God to thee for good." c q. cl, 
"That you may see the truth and justness of what I 
assert (viz., that magistracy is the ordinance of God, and 
that you sin against him in opposing it), consider that 
even pagan rulers are not, by the nature and design of 
their office, enemies and a terror to the good and virtuous 
actions of men, but only to the injurious and mischievous 
to society. Will ye not, then, reverence and honor magis 
tracy, when ye see the good end and intention of it? 
How can ye be so unreasonable ? Only mind to do your 
duty as members of society, and this will gain you the 

a Rom. xiii. 2. 

b " For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil." It cannot be 
supposed that the apostle designs here, or in any of the succeeding verses, to give 
the true character of Nero, or any other civil powers then in being, as if they 
were in fact such persons as he describes, a terror to evil works only, and not to 
the good. For such a character did not belong to them; and the apostle was no 
sycophant, or parasite of power, whatever some of his pretended successors have 
been, lie only tells what rulers would be, provided they acted up to their char 
acter and office. 

c Rom. xiii. 3, 4. 



58 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

applause and favor of all good rulers. For, while you do 
thus, they are by their office, as ministers of God, obliged 
to encourage and protect you : it is for this very purpose 
that they are clothed with power." The apostle subjoins : 
" But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he bear- 
eth not the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God, 
a revenger, to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. a " b 
q. d., " But, upon the other hand, if ye refuse to do your 
duty as members of society ; if ye refuse to bear your 
part in the support of government; if ye are disorderly, 
and do things which merit civil chastisement, then, 
indeed, ye have reason to be afraid. For it is not in 
vain that rulers are vested with the power of inflicting 
punishment. They are, by their office, not only the minis 
ters of God for good to those that do well, but also his 
ministers to revenge, to discountenance, and punish those 
that are unruly, and injurious to their neighbors." The 
apostle proceeds: "Wherefore ye must needs be subject 
not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake." c q. d., 
"Since, therefore, magistracy is the ordinance of God, and 
since rulers are by their office benefactors to society, by 
discouraging what is bad and encouraging what is good, 

a It is manifest that when the apostle speaks of it as the office of civil rulers to 
encourage what is good and to punish what is evil, he speaks only of civil good 
and evil. They are to consult the good of society, as such; not to dictate in reli 
gious concerns; not to make laws for the government of men s consciences, and 
to inflict civil penalties for religious crimes. It is sufficient to overthrow the 
doctrine of the authority of the civil magistrate in affairs of a spiritual nature (so 
far as it is built upon anything which is here said by St. Paul, or upon anything 
else in the New Testament) only to observe that all the magistrates then in the 
world were heathen, implacable enemies to Christianity; so that, to give them 
authority in religious matters, would have been, in effect, to give them authority 
to extirpate theChristian religion, and to establish the idolatries and supersti 
tions of paganism. And can any one reasonably suppose that the apostle had 
any intention to extend the authority of rulers beyond concerns merely civil and 
political, to the overthrowing of that religion which he himself was so zealous in 
propagating? But it is natural for those whose religion cannot be supported 
upon the footing of reason and argument, to have recourse to power and force, 
which will serve a bad cause as well as a good one, and, indeed, much better. 

b Kom. xiii. 4. c Rom xiii. 5. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 59 

and so preserving peace and order amongst men, it is 
evident that ye ought to pay a willing subjection to them; 
not to obey merely for fear of exposing yourselves to their 
wrath and displeasure, but also in point of reason, duty, 
and conscience. Ye are under an indispensable obligation, 
as Christians, to honor their office, and to submit to them 
in the execution of it." The apostle goes on : " For, for 
this cause pay you tribute also ; for they are God s minis 
ters, attending continually upon this very thing:" a q. d., 
" And here is a plain reason also why ye should pay 
tribute to them, for they are God s ministers, exalted 
above the common level of mankind, not that they may 
indulge themselves in softness and ^luxury, and be entitled 
to the servile homage of their fellow-men, but that they 
may execute an office no less laborious than honorable, and 
attend continually upon the public welfare. This being 
their business and duty, it is but reasonable that they 
should be requited for their care and diligence in perform 
ing it ; and enabled, by taxes levied upon the subject, 
effectually to prosecute the great end of their institution, 
the good of society." The apostle sums all up in the follow 
ing words : " Render, therefore, to all their dues ; tribute b 
to whom tribute is due ; custom b to whom custom ; fear 
to whom fear; honor to whom honor." q. d., "Let it 
not therefore be said of any of you hereafter, that you 
contemn government, to the reproach of yourselves and 
of the Christian religion. Neither your being Jews by 
nation, nor your becoming the subjects of Christ s king 
dom, gives you any dispensation for making disturbances 

a Rom. xiii. 6. 

b Grotius observes^ that the Greek words here used answer to the tributum and 
vectiyal of the Romans: the former was the money paid lor the soil and poll, 
the latter the dues laid upon some sorts of merchandise. And what the apostle 
here says deserves to be seriously considered by all Christians concerned in that 
common practice of carrying on an illicit trade and running of goods. 

c Rom. xiii. 7. 



60 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

in the government under which you live. Approve your 
selves, therefore, as peaceable and dutiful subjects. Be 
ready to pay to your rulers all that they may, in respect of 
their office, justly demand of you. Render tribute and 
custom to those of your governors to whom tribute and 
custom belong; and cheerfully honor and reverence all 
who are vested with civil authority, according to their 
deserts." 

The apostle s doctrine, in the passage thus explained, 
concerning the office of civil rulers, and the duty of sub 
jects, may be summed up in the following observations, 11 
viz. : 

That the end of magistracy is the good of civil society, 
as such. 

That civil rulers, as such, are the ordinance and minis 
ters of God ; it being by his permission and providence 
that any bear rule, and agreeable to his will that there 
should be some persons vested with authority in society, 
for the well-being of it. 

That which is here said concerning civil rulers extends 
to all of them in common. It relates indifferently to mon 
archical, republican, and aristocratical government, and to 
all other forms which truly answer the sole end of govern 
ment the happiness of society ; and to all the different 
degrees of authority in any particular state ; to inferior 
officers no less than to the supreme. 

That disobedience to civil rulers in the due exercise of 
their authority is not merely a political sin, but a heinous 
offence against God and religion. 

That the true ground and reason b of our obligation to be 



a The several observations here only mentioned were handled at large in two 
preceding discourses upon this subject. 

b Some suppose the apostle, in this passage, enforces the duty of submission 
with two arguments quite distinct from each other; one taken from this consid 
eration, that rulers are the ordinance and the ministers of God (vs. 1, 2, 4), and 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE JHGHER POWERS. 61 

subject to the higher powers is, the usefulness of magis 
tracy (when properly exercised) to human society, and its 
subserviency to the general welfare. 

That obedience to civil rulers is here equally required 
under all forms of government which answer the sole end 
of all government the good of society ; and to every 
degree of authority, in any state, whether supreme or 
subordinate. From whence it follows 

That if unlimited obedience and non-resistance be here 
required as a duty under any one form of government, it 
is also required as a duty under all other forms, and as a 
duty to subordinate rulers as well as to the supreme. 

And, lastly, that those civil rulers to whom the apostle 
enjoins subjection are the persons in possession ; the 
powers that be / those who are actually vested with au 
thority. 1 

the other from the benefits that accrue to society from civil government (vs. 3, 4, 
6). And, indeed, these may be distinct motives and arguments for submission, 
as they may be separately viewed and contemplated. But when we consider that 
rulers are not the ordinance and the ministers of God but only so far forth as 
they perform God s will by acting up to their office and character, and so by 
being benefactors to society, this makes these arguments coincide, and run up 
into one at last; at least so far that the former of them cannot hold good for 
submission where the latter fails. Put the suppositiop, that any man bearing the 
title of a magistrate should exercise his power in such a manner as to have no 
claim to obedience by virtue of that argument which is founded upon the useful 
ness of magistracy, and you equally take off the force of the other argument 
also, which is founded upon his being the ordinance and the minister of God; 
for he is no longer God s ordinance and minister than he acts up to his office and 
character by exercising his power for the good of society. This is, in brief, the 
reason why it is said above, in the singular number, that the true ground and 
reason, etc. The use and propriety of this remark may possibly be more appar 
ent in the progress of the argument concerning resistance. 

a This must be understood w r ith this proviso, that they do not grossly abuse 
their power and trust, but exercise it for the good of those that are governed. 
Who these persons were whether Nero, etc., or not the apostle does not say, 
but leaves it to be determined by those to whom he writes. God does not inter 
pose in a miraculous way to point out the persons who shall bear rule, and to 
whom subjection is due. And as to the unalienable, indefeasible right of primo 
geniture, the Scriptures are entirely silent, or, rather, plainly contradict it, 
Saul being the tirst king among the Israelites, and appointed to the royal dignity 
during his own father s lifetime; and he was succeeded, or rather superseded, by 
" David, the last born among many brethren." Now, if God has not invariably 

6 



62 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

There is one very important and interesting point which 
remains to be inquired into, namely, the extent of that 
subjection to the higher powers which is here enjoined as 
a duty upon all Christians. Some have thought it warrant 
able and glorious to disobey the civil powers in certain 
circumstances, and in cases of very great and general op 
pression, when humble remonstrances fail of having any 
effect ; and, when the public welfare cannot be otherwise 
provided for and secured, to rise unanimously even against 
the sovereign himself, in order to redress their grievances ; 
to vindicate their natural and legal rights; to break the 
yoke of tyranny, and free themselves and posterity from 
inglorious servitude and ruin. 1 It is upon this principle 
that many royal oppressors have been driven from their 
thrones into banishment, and many slain by the hands of 
their subjects. It was upon this principle that Tarquin 



determined this matter, it must, of course, be determined by men. And if it be 
determined by men, it must be determined either in the way of force or of com 
pact; and which of these is the most equitable can be no question. 

1 Milton was of the same mind. "It is not," said* he, "neither ought 
to be, the glory of a Protestant state never to have put their king to 
death; it is the glory of a Protestant king never to have deserved death. 
And if the Parliament and military council do what they do without prece 
dent, if it appear their duty, it argues the more wisdom, virtue, and 
magnanimity, that they know themselves able to be a precedent to others, 
who perhaps in future ages, if they prove not too degenerate, will look 
up with honor, and aspire towards these exemplary and matchless deeds 
of their ancestors, as to the highest top of their civil glory and emula 
tion; which heretofore, in the pursuance of fame and foreign dominion, 
spent itself vaingloriously abroad; but henceforth may learn a better for 
titude, to dare execute highest justice on them that shall by force of arms 
endeavor the oppressing and bereaving of religion and their liberty at 
home. That no unbridled potentate or tyrant, but to his sorrow, for the 
future may presume such high and irrepressible license over mankind, to 
havoc and turn upside down whole kingdoms of men, as though they 
were no more in respect of his perverse will than a nation of pismires." 
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 63 

was expelled from Rome, and Julius Cajsnr, the conqueror 
of the world and the tyrant of his country, cut off in the 
senate-house. It was upon this principle that King 
Charles I. was beheaded before his own banqueting-house. 1 
It was upon this principle that King James II. was made 
to fly that country which he aimed at enslaving ; and 
upon this principle was that revolution brought about 
which has been so fruitful of happy consequences to Great 
Britain. But, in opposition to this principle, it has often 
been asserted 2 that the Scripture in general, and the pas 
sage under consideration in particular, makes all resistance 
to princes a crime, in any case whatever. If they turn 
tyrants, and become the common oppressors of those 
whose welfare they ought to regard with a paternal af 
fection, we must not pretend to right ourselves, unless it 
be by prayers, and tears, and humble entreaties. And if 
these methods fail of procuring redress, we must not have 
recourse to any other, but all suffer ourselves to be robbed 
and butchered at the pleasure of the "Lord s anointed," lest 
we should incur the sin of rebellion and the punishment 
of damnation! for he has God s authority and commis 
sion to bear him out in the worst of crimes so far that he 
may not be withstood or controlled. Now, whether we 
are obliged to yield such an absolute submission to our 
prince, or whether disobedience and resistance may not be 
justifiable in some cases, notwithstanding anything in the 
passage before us, is an inquiry in which we all are con 
cerned ; and this is the inquiry which is the main design 
of the present discourse. 



1 Charles emplovcd Inigo Jones to prepare the plans for a magnificent 
Whitehall, now Whitehall Chapel, from the centre window of which 
the unhappy tyrant passed to his scaffold. ED. 

2 By Filmer, Brady. Mackenzie, Sherlock, and generally by the Church 
of England writers, with few exceptions. ED. 



64 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

Now, there does not seem to be any necessity of suppos 
ing that an absolute, unlimited obedience, whether active 
or passive, is here enjoined, merely for this reason that the 
precept is delivered in absolute terms, without any excep 
tion or limitation expressly mentioned. We are enjoined 
to be " subject to the higher powers ; " a and to be " subject 
for conscience sake." b And because these expressions are 
absolute and unlimited, or, more properly, general, some 
have inferred that the subjection required in them must 
be absolute and unlimited also, at least so far forth as to 
make passive obedience and non-resistance a duty in all 
cases whatever, if not active obedience likewise; though, 
by the way, there is here no distinction made betwixt 
active and passive obedience ; and if either of them be 
required in an unlimited sense, the other must be required 
in the same sense also, by virtue of the present argument, 
because the expressions are equally absolute with respect 
to both. But that unlimited obedience of any sort can 
not be argued merely from the indefinite expressions in 
which obedience is enjoined, appears from hence, that ex 
pressions of the same nature frequently occur in Scripture, 
upon which it is confessed on all hands that no such abso 
lute and unlimited sense ought to be put. For example : 
" Love not the world, neither the things that are in the 
world," "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon 
earth," d " Take therefore no thought for the morrow," e 
are precepts expressed in at least equally absolute and un 
limited terms; but it is generally allowed that they are 
to be understood with certain restrictions and limitations ; 
some degree of love to the world and the things of it 
being allowable. Nor, indeed, do the Right Reverend 
Fathers in God, and other dignified clergymen of the 



a Rom. xiii. 1. c 1 John ii. 15. e Matt. vi. 34. 

b Eorn. xiii. 5. d Matt. vi. 19. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 65 

Established Church, seem to be altogether averse to admit 
ting of restrictions in the latter case, how warm soever 
any of them may be against restrictions and limitations in 
the case of submission to authority, whether civil or eccle 
siastical. It is worth remarking, also, that patience and 
submission under private injuries are enjoined in much 
more peremptory and absolute terms than any that are 
used with regard to submission to the injustice and op 
pression of civil rulers. Thus : " I say unto you, that ye 
resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right 
cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will 
sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have 
thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a 
mile with him, go with him twain." a Any man may be 
defied to produce such strong expressions in favor of a 
passive and tame submission to unjust, tyrannical rulers, 
as are here used to enforce submission to private injuries. 
But how few are there that understand those expressions 
literally ! And the reason why they do not, is because 
(with submission to the Quakers) common sense shows 
that they were not intended to be so understood. 

But, to instance in some Scripture precepts which are 
more directly to the point in hand : Children are com 
manded to obey their parents, and servants their masters, 
in as absolute and unlimited terms as subjects are here 
commanded to obey their civil rulers. Thus this same 
apostle: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for 
this is right. Honor thy father and mother, which is the 
first commandment with promise. Servants, be obedient 
to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with 
fear and trembling, with singleness of your heart, as unto 
Christ." b Thus, also, wives are commanded to be obedient 

a Matt. v. 39, 40, 41. b Eph, vi. 1, etc. 

6* 



66 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

to their husbands: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your 
own husbands, as unto the Lord ; for the husband is head 
of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. 
Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the 
wives be to their own husbands in everything." ft In all 
these cases, submission is required in terms at least as 
absolute and universal as are ever used with respect to 
rulers and subjects. But who supposes that the apostle 
ever -intended to teach that children, servants, and wives, 
should, in all cases whatever, obey their parents, masters, 
and husbands respectively, never making any opposition to 
their will, even although they should require them to break 
the commandments of God, or should causelessly make an 
attempt upon their lives ? No one puts such a sense upon 
these expressions, however absolute and unlimited. Why, 
then, should it be supposed that the apostle designed to 
teach universal obedience, whether active or passive, to 
the higher powers, merely because his precepts are deliv 
ered in absolute and unlimited terms ? And if this be a 
good argument in one case, why is it not in others also ? 
If it be said that resistance and disobedience to the higher 
powers is here said positively to be a sin, so also is the 
disobedience of children to parents, servants to masters, 
and wives to husbands, in other places of Scripture. But 
the question still remains, whether, in all these cases, there 
be not some exceptions. In the three latter it is allowed 
there are ; and from hence it follows, that barely the use 
of absolute expressions is no proof that obedience to 
civil rulers is in all cases a duty, or resistance in all cases 
a sin. I should not have thought it worth while to take 
any notice at all of this argument, had it not been much 
insisted upon by some of the advocates for passive obedi 
ence and non-resistance ; for it is in itself perfectly trifling, 

a Eph. v. 22-24. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 67 

and rendered considerable only by the stress that has been 
laid upon it for want of better. 

There is, indeed, one passage in the New Testament 
where it may seem, at first view, that an unlimited sub 
mission to civil rulers is enjoined: "Submit yourselves to 
every ordinance of man for the Lord s sake." a To every or 
dinance of man. However, this expression is no stronger 
than that before taken notice of with relation to the duty 
of wives : " So let the wives be subject to their own hus 
bands in everything" But the true solution of this diffi 
culty (if it be one) is this : By " every ordinance of man" b 
is not meant every command of the civil, magistrate with 
out exception, but every order of magistrates appointed 
by man, whether superior or inferior ; for so the apostle 
explains himself in the very next words : " Whether it 
be to the king as supreme, or to governors, as unto them 
that are sent," etc. But although the apostle had not sub 
joined any such explanation, the reason of the thing itself 
would have obliged us to limit the expression " every or 
dinance of man" to such human ordinances and commands 
as are not inconsistent with the ordinances and commands 
of God, the Supreme Lawgiver, or with any other higher 
and antecedent obligations. 1 

It is to be observed, in the next place, that as the duty 

a 1 Peter ii. 13. 

b Literally, every human institution, or appointment. By which manner of 
expression the apostle plainly intimates that rulers derive their authority im 
mediately, not from God, but from men. 

1 Milton considers this text, in his " Defence of the People of England," 
much at length. He says : " It being very certain that the doctrine of the 
gospel is neither contrary to reason nor the law of nations, that man is 
truly subject to the higher powers who obeys the laws and the magistrates 
so far as they govern according to law. So that St. Paul does not only 
command the people, but princes themselves, to be in subjection; who are 
not above the laws, but bound by them ; . . . but whatever power en 
ables a man, or whatsoever magistrate takes upon him, to act contrary to 



68 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

of universal obedience and non-resistance to the higher 
powers cannot be argued from the absolute, unlimited ex 
pressions which the apostle here uses, so neither can it be 
argued from the scope and drift of his reasoning, considered 
with relation to the persons he was here opposing. As 
was observed above, there were some professed Christians 
in the apostolic age who disclaimed all magistracy and 
civil authority in general, despising government, and speak 
ing evil of dignities ; some, under a notion that Jews ought 
not to be under the jurisdiction of Gentile rulers, and 
others that they were set free from the temporal powers 
by Christ. Now v it is with persons of this licentious opin 
ion and character that the apostle is concerned; and all 
that was directly to his point was to show that they were 
bound to submit to magistracy in general. This is a cir 
cumstance very material to be taken notice of, in order to 
ascertain the sense of the apostle ; for, this being con 
sidered, it is sufficient to account for all that he says con 
cerning the duty of subjection and the sin of resistance to 
the higher powers, without having recourse to the doctrine 
of unlimited submission and passive obedience in all cases 
whatever. Were it known that those in opposition to 
whom the apostle wrote allowed of civil authority in 
general, and only asserted that there were some cases in 
which obedience and non-resistance were not a duty, there 
would then indeed be reason for interpreting this passage 
as containing the doctrine of unlimited obedience and 
non-resistance, as it must, in this case, be supposed to have 



what St. Paul makes the duty of those that are in authority, neither is 
that power nor that magistrate ordained of God. And consequently to 
such a magistrate no subjection is commanded, nor is any due, nor are 
the people forbidden to resist such authority; for in so doing they do not 
resist the power nor the magistracy, as they are here excellently well 
described, but they resist a robber, a tyrant, an enemy." ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 69 

been levelled against such as denied that doctrine. But 
since it is certain that there were persons who vainly im 
agined that civil government in general was not to be 
regarded by them, it is most reasonable to suppose that 
the apostle designed his discourse only against them ; and, 
agreeably to this supposition, we find that he argues the 
usefulness of civil magistracy in general, its agreeableness 
to the will and purpose of God, who is over all, and so 
deduces from hence the obligation of submission to it. 
But it will not follow that because civil government is, 
in general, a good institution, and necessary to the peace 
and happiness of human society, therefore there are no 
supposable cases in which resistance to it can be innocent. 
So that the duty of unlimited obedience, whether active 
or passive, can be argued neither from the manner of ex 
pression here used, nor from the general scope and design 
of the passage. 

And if we attend to the nature of the argument with 
which the apostle here enforces the duty of submission to 
the higher powers, we shall find it to be such a one as 
concludes not in favor of submission to all who bear the 
title of rulers in common, but only to those who actually 
perform the duty of rulers by exercising a reasonable and 
just authority for the good of human society. This is a 
point which it will be proper to enlarge upon, because the 
question before us turns very much upon the truth or 
falsehood of this position. It is obvious, then, in general, 
that the civil rulers whom the apostle here speaks of, and 
obedience to whom he presses upon Christians as a duty, 
are good rulers,* such as are, in the exercise of their office 



a By " good rulers" arc not intended such as are good in a moral or religious, 
but only in a political, sense; those who perform their duty so far as their office 
extends, and so far as civil society, as such, is concerned in their actions. 1 

1 Dr. Mayhew may have had in mind the apologies often made for 



70 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

and power, benefactors to society. Such they are described 
to be throughout this passage. Thus, it is said that they 
are not a terror to good works, but to the evil; that they 
are God s ministers for good ; revengers to execute wrath 
upon him that doeth evil ; and that they attend continu 
ally upon this very thing. St. Peter gives the same 
account of rulers : They are " for a praise to them that 
do well, and the punishment of evil doers." a It is manifest 
that this character and description of rulers agrees only to 
such as are rulers in fact, as well as in name ; to such as gov 
ern well, and act agreeably to their office. And the apostle s 
argument for submission to rulers is wholly built and 
grounded upon a presumption that they do in fact answer 
this character, and is of no force at all upon supposition 
of the contrary. If rulers are a terror to good works, and 
not to the evil ; if they are not ministers for good to 
society, but for evil and distress, by violence and oppres 
sion ; if they execute wrath upon sober, peaceable persons, 
who do their duty as members of society, and suffer rich 

a See notes, pp. 57, 58. 

Charles the First and other tyrants their good lives as private men ; but 
certainly he did not mean that it is a thing of indifference that bad men 
should be rulers. In his Election Sermon of 1754, he says that morals 
and religion " ought doubtless to be encouraged by the civil magistrate 
by his own pious life and good example." What is the security, or prob 
ability, that the weak or the bad, in private life, will be able and good 
men in public life, especially if it be, as Hume says, " that men are gener 
ally more honest in a private than in a public capacity, and will go greater 
lengths to serve a party than when their own private interest is alone con 
cerned"? " Nations rise and fall by individuals, not numbers, as I think 
all history proveth," said Hollis. It was the virtue of Washington only 
that saved the republic, when, in 1782, the suffering army suggested to 
their leader the "title of king." Had his been a "low ambition," what 
then would have been our history? The political motto, " Principles, not 
men," is a dangerous doctrine. The monument to Pitt, in the Guildhall, 
London, was raised to show "that the means by which Providence raises 
a nation to greatness are the virtues infused into great men." ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 71 

and honorable knaves to escape with impunity; if, instead 
of attending continually upon the good work of advanc 
ing the public welfare, they attend continually upon the 
gratification of their own lust and pride and ambition, to 
the destruction of the public welfare ; if this be the case, 
it is plain that the apostle s argument for submission does 
not reach them ; they are not the same, but different 
persons from those whom he characterizes, and who must 
be obeyed, according to his reasoning. Let me illustrate 
the apostle s argument by the following similitude (it is 
no matter how far it is from anything which has, in fact, 
happened in the world) : Suppose, then, it was allowed, 
in general, that the clergy 1 were a useful order of men ; 
that they ought to be " esteemed very highly in love for 
their works sake, a and to be decently supported by those 
they serve, " the laborer being worthy of his reward." b 
Suppose, further, that a number of reverend and right 
reverend drones, who worked, not; who preached, per 
haps, but once a year, and then not the gospel of Jesus 
Christ, but the divine right of tithes, the dignity of their 
office as ambassadors of Christ, the equity of sinecures 
and a plurality of benefices, the excellency of the devo 
tions in that prayer-book which some of them hired chap 
lains to use for them, or some favorite point of church- 
tyranny and anti-Christian usurpation ; suppose such 
men as these, spending their lives in effeminacy, luxury, and 
idleness, or, when they were not idle, doing that which is 
worse than idleness; suppose such men should, merely 
by the merit of ordination and consecration, and a peculiar, 

a 1 Thess. v. 13. b 1 Tim. v. 18. 

1 The Church of England docs not recognize as " clergy" any but its 
own ministry, unless that of the papal church ; but at one time it Avas less 
exclusive, and recognized Presbyterian ordination. Hopkins s Puritans 
and Queen Elizabeth, vol. ii. ch. 4. ED. 



72 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

odd habit, claim great respect and reverence from those 
whom they civilly called the beasts of the laity, a and de 
mand thousands per annum for that service which they 
never performed, and for which, if they had performed it, 
this would be more than a quantum meruit; suppose this 
should be the case (it is only by way of simile, and surely 
it will give no offence), would not everybody be astonished 
at such insolence, injustice, and impiety? 1 And ought 
not such men to be told plainly that they could not rea 
sonably expect the esteem and reward due to the ministers 
of the gospel unless they did the duties of their office ? 
Should they not be told that their title and habit claimed 
no regard, reverence, or pay, separate from the care and 
work and various duties of their function ? and that, 
while they neglected the latter, the former served only 
to render them the more ridiculous and contemptible? 2 
The application of this similitude to the case in hand is 
very easy. If those who bear the title of civil rulers do 
not perform the duty of civil rulers, but act directly 
counter to the sole end and design of their office ; if they 
injure and oppress their subjects, instead of defending 
their rights and doing them good, they have not the least 
pretence to be honored, obeyed, and rewarded, according 

a Mr. Leslie. 

1 Charles Leslie, whose works were republished at Oxford, in 1832, in 
seven volumes, lived from 1050 to 1722. He was an eminent controver 
sialist. His expression " their beasts, the laity," twice quoted by Dr. May- 
hew, indicates his principles. He resigned his preferments on the flight 
of James II., and was ever a firm adherent to the Stuarts. He contended 
for absolute power, despotism denying all right in the people either to 
confer or coerce government. ED. 

2 This was the American view of the Church of England, and they 
loathed the idea of its establishment in America, a scheme assiduously 
prosecuted under pretence of " propagating the gospel in foreign parts," 
etc. ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 73 

to the apostle s argument. For his reasoning, in order to 
show the duty of subjection to the higher powers, is, as 
was before observed, built wholly upon the supposition 
that they do, in fact, perform the duty of rulers. 

If it be said that the apostle here uses another argument 
for submission to the higher powers besides that which is 
taken from the usefulness of their office to civil society 
when properly discharged and executed, namely, that their 
power is from God, that they are ordained of God, and 
that they are God s ministers ; and if it be said that this 
argument for submission to them will hold good, although 
they do not exercise their power for the benefit, but for 
the ruin and destruction of human society, this objection 
was obviated, in part, before. a Rulers have no authority 
from God to do mischief. They are not God s ordinance, 
or God s ministers, in any other sense than as it is by his 
permission and providence that they are exalted to bear 
rule; and as magistracy duly exercised, and authority 
rightly applied, in the enacting and executing good laws, 
laws attempered and accommodated to the common 
welfare of the subjects, must be supposed to be agree 
able to the will of the beneficent Author and supreme 
Lord of the universe, whose "kingdom ruleth over all," b 
and whose "tender mercies are over all his works." 6 It is 
blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God s ministers. 
They are more properly "the messengers of Satan to 
buffet us." d ]S r o rulers are properly God s ministers but 
such as are "just, ruling in the fear of God." e When 
once magistrates act contrary to their office, and the end 
of their institution, when they rob and ruin the public, 
instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare, they 



a See notes, pp. 60, 61. c Ts. cxlv. 19. e 2 Sara, xxiii. 3. 

b Ps. ciii. 19. d 2 Cor. xii. 7. 

7 



74 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of 
God, and no more deserve that glorious character than 
common pirates and highwaymen. 1 So that, whenever 
that argument for submission fails which is grounded 
upon the usefulness of magistracy to civil society, as it 
always does when magistrates do hurt to society instead 
of good, the other argument, which is taken from their 
being the ordinance of God, must necessarily fail also; no 
person of a civil character being God s minister, in the 
sense of the apostle, any further than he performs God s 
will by exercising a just and reasonable authority, and 
ruling for the good of the subject. 

This in general. Let us now trace the apostle s reason 
ing in favor of submission to the higher powers a little 
more particularly and exactly ; for by this it will appear, 
on one hand, how good and conclusive it is for submission 
to those rulers who exercise their power in a proper man 
ner, and, on the other, how weak and trifling and incon- 
nected it is if it be supposed to be meant by the apostle 
to show the obligation and duty of obedience to tyranni 
cal, oppressive rulers, in common with others of a different 
character. 

The apostle enters upon his subject thus : " Let every 
soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no 
power but of God : the powers that be are ordained of 



1 Parallel with this is Milton s distinction, where he says : " If I inveigh 
against tyrants, what is this to kings? whom I am far from associating 
with tyrants. As much as an honest man differs from a rogue, so much I 
contend that a king differs from a tyrant. Whence it is clear that a tyrant 
is so far from being a king, that he is always in direct opposition to a 
king." yiie Second Defence. James I., in 1603 and 1009, in his speeches 
to parliament, said : " A king ceases to be a king, and degenerates into a 
tyrant, as soon as he leaves off to rule according to his laws." And Locke, 
of "Civil Government," sa3*s: "Wheresoever the authority ceases, the king 
ceases too, and becomes like other men who have no authority." ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 75 

God." a Here he urges the duty of obedience from this 
topic of argument : that civil rulers, as they are supposed 
to fulfil the pleasure of God, are the ordinance of God. 
But how is this an argument for obedience to such rulers 
as do not perform the pleasure of God by doing good, but 
the pleasure of the devil by doing evil ; and such as are 
not, therefore, God s ministers, but the devil s? "Whoso 
ever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance 
of God ; and they that resist shall receive to themselves 
damnation." b Here the apostle argues that those who 
resist a reasonable and just authority, which is agreeable to 
the will of God, do really resist the will of God himself, 
and will, therefore, be punished by him. But how does 
this prove that those who resist a lawless, unreasonable 
power, which is contrary to the will of God, 1 do therein 
resist the will and ordinance of God ? Is resisting those 
who resist God s will the same thing with resisting God ? 
Or shall those who do so " receive to themselves damna 
tion ? For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to 
the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? 
Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the 
same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good." c 
Here the apostle argues, more explicitly than he had 
before done, for revering and submitting to magistracy, 
from this consideration, that such as really performed the 

a Rom. xiii. 1. b Rom. xiii. 2. c Rom. xiii. 3, 4 

1 This lesson was well conned : hear one of Dr. Mayhcw s disciples, John 
Adams, twenty-five years afterward, in 1775, in defence of resistance to the 
despotism of the British Parliament : " We are not exciting rebellion. Op 
position, nay, open, avowed resistance by arms against usurpation and law 
less violence, is not rebellion by the law of God or the land. Resistance to 
lawful authority makes rebellion. Hampden, Russell, Sydney, Somers, 
Holt, Tillotson, Burnet, Hoadley, etc., were no tyrants nor rebels, although 
some of them were in arms, and the others undoubtedly excited resistance 
against the tories." ED. 



76 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

duty of magistrates would be enemies only to the evil 
actions of men, and would befriend and encourage the 
good, and so be a common blessing to society. But how 
is this an argument that we must honor and submit to such 
magistrates as are not enemies to the evil actions of men, 
but to the good, and such as are not a common blessing, 
but a common curse to society ? " But if thou do that 
which is evil, be afraid : for he is the minister of God, a 
revenger, to execute wrath upon him that doth evil."" 
Here the apostle argues, from the nature and end of 
magistracy, that such as did evil, and such only, had rea 
son to be afraid of the higher powers ; it being part of 
their office to punish evil-doers, no less than to defend and 
encourage such as do well. But if magistrates are un 
righteous, if they are respecters of persons, if they are 
partial in their administration of justice, then those who 
do well have as much reason to be afraid as those that do 
evil : there can be no safety for the good, nor any peculiar 
ground of terror to the unruly and injurious ; so that, in 
this case, the main end of civil government will be frus 
trated. And what reason is there for submitting to that 
government which does by no means answer the design 
of government ? "Wherefore ye must needs be subject 
not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake." b Here 
the apostle argues the duty of a cheerful and conscientious 
submission to civil government from the nature and end 
of magistracy, as he had before laid it down ; i. <?., as the 
design of it was to punish evil-doers, and to support and 
encourage such as do well ; and as it must, if so exercised, 
be agreeable to the will of God. But how does what he 
here says prove the duty of a cheerful and conscientious 
subjection to those who forfeit the character of rulers ? to 

a Rom. xiii. 4. b Rom. xiii. 5. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 77 

those who encourage the bad and discourage the good ? 
The argument here used no more proves it to be a sin 
to resist such rulers than it does to resist the devil, 
that he may flee from us. a For one is as truly the min 
ister of God as the other. "For, for this cause pay 
you tribute also; for they are God s ministers, attend 
ing continually upon this very thing." b Plere the apos 
tle argues the duty of paying taxes from this consid 
eration, that those who perform the duty of rulers are 
continually attending upon the public welfare. But how 
does this argument conclude for paying taxes to such 
princes as are continually endeavoring to ruin the public ; 
and especially when such payment would facilitate and 
promote this wicked design? "Render therefore to all 
their dues ; tribute to whom tribute is due ; custom to 
whom custom ; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." 
Here the apostle sums up what he has been saying con 
cerning the duty of subjects to rulers ; and his argument 
stands thus : " Since magistrates who execute their office 
well are common benefactors to society, and may in that 
respect properly be called the ministers and ordinance 
of God, and since they are constantly employed in the 
service of the public, it becomes you to pay them tribute 
and custom, and to reverence, honor, and submit to them 
in the execution of their respective offices." This is 
apparently good reasoning. But does this argument con 
clude for the duty of paying tribute, custom, reverence, 
honor, and obedience to such persons as, although they 
bear the title of rulers, use all their power to hurt and 
injure the public? such as are not God s ministers, but 
Satan s ? such as do not take care of and attend upon the 
public interest, but their own, to the ruin of the public? 
that is, in short, to such as have no just claim at all to 

a James iv. 7. b Kom. xiii. 6. c Rom. xiii. 7. 

7* 



78 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

tribute, custom, reverence, honor, and obedience ? It is to 
be hoped that those who have any regard to the apostle s 
character as an inspired writer, or even as a man of com 
mon understanding, will not represent him as reasoning in 
such a loose, incoherent manner, and drawing conclusions 
which have not the least relation to his premises. For 
what can be more absurd than an argument thus framed : 
" Rulers are, by their office, bound to consult the public 
welfare and the good of society ; therefore, you are bound 
to pay them tribute, to honor, and to submit to them, even 
when they destroy the public welfare, and are a common 
pest to society by acting in direct contradiction to the 
nature and end of their office"? 

Thus, upon a careful review of the apostle s reasoning 
in this passage, it appears that his arguments to enforce 
submission are of such a nature as to conclude only in 
favor of submission to such rulers as he himself describes ; 
i. e., such as rule for the good of society, which is the only 
end of their institution. Common tyrants and public 
oppressors are not entitled to obedience from their sub 
jects by virtue of anything here laid down by the inspired 
apostle. 

I now add, further, that the apostle s argument is so 
far from proving it to be the duty of people to obey and 
submit to such rulers as act in contradiction to the public 
good, a and so to the design of their office, that it proves 
the direct contrary. For, please to observe, that if the 
end of all civil government be the good of society ; if this 
be the thing that is aimed at in constituting civil rulers ; 
and if the motive and argument for submission to gov 
ernment be taken from the apparent usefulness of civil 

a This does not intend their acting so in a few particular instances, which the 
best of rulers may do through mistake, etc., but their acting so habitually, and 
in a manner which plainly shows that they aim atjnaking themselves great by the 
ruiu of their subjects. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 79 

authority, it follows, that when no such good end can 
be answered by submission, there remains no argument or 
motive to enforce it ; and if, instead of this good end s 
being brought about by submission, a contrary end is 
brought about, and the ruin and misery of society effected 
by it, here is a plain and positive reason against submis 
sion in all such cases, should they ever happen. And 
therefore, in such cases, a regard to the public welfare 
ouo;ht to make us withhold from our rulers that obedience 

O 

and submission which it would otherwise be our duty to 
render to them. If it be our duty, for example, to obey 
our king merely for this reason, that he rules for the public 
welfare (which is the only argument the apostle makes use 
of), it follows, by a parity of reason, that when he turns 
tyrant, and makes his subjects his prey to devour and 
destroy, instead of his charge to defend and cherish, we 
are bound to throw off our allegiance to him, and to resist; 
and that according to the tenor of the apostle s argument 
in this passage. Not to discontinue our allegiance in this 
case would be to join with the sovereign in promoting the 
slavery and misery of that society, the welfare of which 
we ourselves, as well as our sovereign, are indispensably 
obliged to secure and promote, as far as in us lies. It is 
true the apostle puts no case of such a tyrannical prince ; 
but, by his grounding his argument for submission wholly 
upon the good of civil society, it is plain he implicitly 
authorizes, and even requires us to make resistance, when 
ever this shall be necessary to the public safety and happi 
ness. Let me make use of this easy and familiar similitude 
to illustrate the point in hand : Suppose God requires a 
family of children to obey their father and not to resist 
him, and enforces his command with this argument, that 
the superintendence and care and authority of a just and 
kind parent will contribute to the happiness of the whole 



80 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

family, so that they ought to obey him for their own sakes 
more than for his; suppose this parent at length runs 
distracted, and attempts in his mad fit to cut all his chil 
dren s throats. Now, in this case, is not the reason before 
assigned why these children should obey their parent 
while he continued of a sound mind namely, their com 
mon good a reason equally conclusive for disobeying and 
resisting him, since he is become delirious and attempts 
their ruin ? It makes no alteration in the argument 
whether this parent, properly speaking, loses his reason, 
or does, while he retains his understanding, that which is 
as fatal in its consequences as anything he could do were 
he really deprived of it. This similitude needs no formal 
application. 

But it ought to be remembered that if the duty of uni 
versal obedience and non-resistance to our king or prince 
can be argued from this passage, the same unlimited sub 
mission, under a republican or any other form of govern 
ment, and even to all the subordinate powers in any 
particular state, can be proved by it as well, which is more 
than those who allege it for the mentioned purpose would 
be willing should be inferred from it ; so that this passage 
does not answer their purpose, but really overthrows and 
confutes it. This matter deserves to be more particularly 
considered. The advocates for unlimited submission and 
passive obedience do, if I mistake not, always speak with 
reference to kingly and monarchical government as distin 
guished from all other forms, and with reference to sub 
mitting to the will of the king in distinction from all 
subordinate officers acting beyond their commission and 
the authority which they have received from the crown. 
It is not pretended that any persons besides kings have a 
divine right to do what they please, so that no one may 
resist them -without incurring the guilt of factiousness and 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 81 

rebellion. If any other powers oppress the people, it is 
generally allowed that the people may get redress by 
resistance, if other methods prove ineffectual. And if any 
officers in a kingly government go beyond the limits of 
that power which they have derived from the crown (the 
supposed original source of all power and authority in the 
state), and attempt illegally to take away the properties 
and lives of their fellow-subjects, they may be forcibly 
resisted, at least till application can be made to the crown. 
But as to the sovereign himself, he may not be resisted in 
any case, nor any of his officers, while they confine them 
selves within the bounds which he has prescribed to them. 
This is, I think, a true sketch of the principles of those who 
defend the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resist 
ance. Now, there is nothing in Scripture which supports 
this scheme of political principles. As to the passage 
under consideration, the apostle here speaks of civil rulers 
in general, of all persons in common vested with au 
thority for the good of society, without any particular 
reference to one form of government more than to another, 
or to the supreme power in any particular state more than 
to subordinate powers. The apostle does not concern 
himself with the different forms of government. 81 This he 



a The essence of government (I mean good government, and this is the only 
government which the apostle treats of in this passage) consists in the making 
and executing of good laws laws attempered to the common felicity of the 
governed. And if this be, in fact, done, it is evidently in itself a thing of no 
consequence at all what the particular form of government is; whether the 
legislative and executive power be lodged in one and the same person, or in dif 
ferent persons; whether in one person, whom we call an absolute monarch; 
whether in a few, so as to constitute an aristocracy ; whether in many, so as to 
constitute a republic; or whether in three coordinate branches, in such manner 
as to make the government partake something of each of these forms, and to be, 
at the same time, essentially different from them all. If the end be attained, it 
is enough. But no form of government seems so unlikely to accomplish this 
end as absolute monarchy. Nor is there any one that has so little pretence to a 
divine original, unless it be in this sense, that God first introduced it into, and 
thereby overturned, the commonwealth ol Israel, as a curse upon that people for 



82 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

supposes left entirely to human prudence and discretion. 
Now, the consequence of this is, that unlimited and passive 
obedience is no more enjoined in this passage under mon 
archical government, or to the supreme power in any state, 
than under all other species of government which answer 
the end of government, or to all the subordinate degrees 
of civil authority, from the highest to the lowest. Those, 
therefore, who would from this passage infer the guilt of 
resisting kings in all cases whatever, though acting ever 
so contrary to the design of their office, must, if they will 
be consistent, go much further, and infer from it the guilt 
of resistance under all other forms of government, and of 
resisting any petty officer in the state, though acting 
beyond his commission in the most arbitrary, illegal 
manner possible. The argument holds equally strong in 
both cases. All civil rulers, as such, are the ordinance 
and ministers of God, and they are all, by the nature of 
their office, and in their respective spheres and stations, 
bound to consult the public welfare. With the same rea 
son, therefore, that any deny unlimited and passive obedi 
ence to be here enjoined under a republic or aristocracy, or 
any other established form of civil government, or to sub 
ordinate powers acting in an illegal and oppressive manner; 
with the same reason others may deny that such obedi 
ence is enjoined to a king or. monarch, or any civil power 
whatever. For the apostle says nothing that is peculiar to 
kings ; what he says extends equally to all other persons 
whatever vested with any civil office. They are all, in 
exactly the same sense, the ordinance of God arid the 
ministers of God, and obedience is equally enjoined to be 
paid to them all. For, as the apostle expresses it, there is 

their folly and wickedness, particularly in desiring such a government. (See 
1 Sam. ch. viii.) Just so God before sent quails amongst them, as a plague and a 
curse, and not as a blessing. Numb. ch. xi. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 83 

no power but of God; and wo arc required to render to all 
their dues, and not more than their dues. And what these 
dues are, and to whom they are to be rendered, the apostle 
saith not, but leaves to the reason and consciences of men 
to determine. 

Thus it appears that the common argument grounded 
upon this passage in favor of universal and passive obedi 
ence really overthrows itself, by proving too much, if it 
proves anything at all, namely, that no civil officer is, in 
any case whatever, to be resisted, though acting in express 
contradiction to the design of his office, which no man in 
his senses ever did or can assert. 

If we calmly consider the nature of the thing itself, 
nothing can well be imagined more directly contrary to 
common sense than to suppose that millions of people 
should be subjected to the arbitrary, precarious pleasure 
of one single man, who has naturally no superiority over 
them in point of authority, so that their estates, and 
everything that is valuable in life, and even their lives 
also, shall be absolutely at his disposal, if he happens to be 
wanton and capricious enough to demand them. What 
unprejudiced man can think that God made all to be thils 
subservient to the lawless pleasure and frenzy of on-e, 1 so 

1 This will suggest to many readers Milton s noble passage : " Our liberty 
is not Caesar s; it is a blessing we have received from God himself; it 
is what we are born to; to lay down this at Caesar s feet, which we derive 
not from him, which we are not beholden to him for, were an unworthy 
action, and a degrading of our very nature. If one should consider 
attentively the countenance of a man, and inquire after whose image so 
noble a creature were framed, would not any one that heard him presently 
make answer, that he was made after the image of God himself? Being, 
therefore, peculiarly God s own, and consequently things that are to be 
given to him, we arc entirely free by nature, and cannot without the great 
est sacrilege imaginable be reduced into a condition of slavery to any man, 
especially to a wicked, unjust, cruel tyrant." Defence of the People of 
England. ED. 



84 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

that it shall always be a sin to resist him ? Nothing but 
the most plain and express revelation from heaven could 
make a sober, impartial man believe such a monstrous, 
unaccountable doctrine ; and, indeed, the thing itself ap 
pears so shocking, so out of all proportion, that it may be 
questioned whether all the miracles that ever were wrought 
could make it credible that this doctrine really came from 
God. At present there is not the least syllable in Scripture 
which gives any countenance to it. The hereditary, inde 
feasible, divine right of kings, and the doctrine of non- 
resistance, which is built upon the supposition of such a 
right, are altogether as fabulous and chimerical as tran- 
substantiation, or any of the most absurd reveries of an 
cient or modern visionaries. These notions are fetched 
neither from divine revelation nor human reason ; and, if 
they are derived from neither of those sources, it is not 
much matter from whence they come or whither they go. 
Only it is a pity that such doctrines should be propagated 
in society, to raise factions and rebellions, 1 as we see they 
have, in fact, been, both in the last and in the present 
reign. 

But, then, if unlimited submission and passive obedience 
to the higher powers, in all possible cases, be not a duty, 
it will be asked, " How far are we obliged to submit ? If 
we may innocently disobey and resist in some cases, why 
not in all ? Where shall we stop ? What is the measure 
of our duty? This doctrine tends to the total dissolution 

i As, for instance, those of the high-church, divine-right party, in 1714, 
1715, which occasioned the Riot Act, the law of the land to this day. 
"Down with the Roundheads! God bless Dr. Sacheverell! " was their cry 
when they destroyed the meeting-houses of the dissenters ; and their vio 
lences were unprecedented. They sought to replace the Stuarts, as at 
Preston, Nov. 13, 1715, and at Culloden Moor, April 16, 1746. These will 
call to mind Campbell s celebrated poem, "Lochiel s Warning," and 
Scott s romance, " Waverley." ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 85 

of civil government, and to introduce such scenes of wild 
anarchy and confusion as are more fatal to society than 
the worst of tyranny." 

After this manner some men object ; and, indeed, this is 
the most plausible thing that can be said in favor of such 
an absolute submission as they plead for. But the worst, 
or, rather, the best of it is, that there is very little strength 
or solidity in it ; for similar difficulties may be raised with 
respect to almost every duty of natural and revealed reli 
gion. To instance only in two, both of which are near 
akin, and indeed exactly parallel to the case before us : It 
is unquestionably the duty of children to submit to their 
parents, and of servants to their masters; but no one as 
serts that it is their duty to obey and submit to them in 
all supposable cases, or universally a sin to resist them. 
Now, does this tend to subvert the just authority of pa 
rents and masters, or to introduce confusion and anarchy 
into private families? No. How, then, does the same 
principle tend to unhinge the government of that larger 
family the body politic? We know, in general, that chil 
dren and servants are obliged to obey their parents and 
masters respectively; we know also, with equal certainty, 
that they are not obliged to submit to them in all things 
without exception, but may, in some cases, reasonably, and 
therefore innocently, resist them. These principles are 
acknowledged upon all hands, whatever difficulty there 
may be in fixing the exact limits of submission. Now, 
there is at least as much difficulty in stating the measure 
of duty in these two cases as in the case of rulers and 
subjects ; so that this is really no objection at least, no 
reasonable one against resistance to the higher powers. 
Or, if it is one, it will hold equally against resistance in the 
other cases mentioned. It is indeed true, that turbulent, 
vicious-minded men may take occasion, from this princi- 

8 



83 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

pie that their rulers may in some cases be lawfully resisted, 
to raise factions and disturbances in the state, and to make 
resistance where resistance is needless, and therefore sin 
ful. But is it not equally true that children and servants, 
of turbulent, vicious minds, may take occasion, from this 
principle that parents and masters may in some cases be 
lawfully resisted, to resist when resistance is unnecessary, 
and therefore criminal? Is the principle, in either case, 
false in itself merely because it may be abused, and applied 
to legitimate disobedience and resistance in those instances 
to which it ought not to be applied ? According to this 
way of arguing, there will be no true principles in the 
world ; for there are none but what may be wrested and 
perverted to serve bad purposes, either through the weak 
ness or wickedness of men. a 



a We may very safely assert these two things in general, without undermining 
government: One is, that no civil rulers are to be obeyed when they enjoin 
things that are inconsistent with the commands of God. All such disobedience 
is lawful and glorious; particularly if persons refuse to comply with any legal 
establishment of religion, because it is a gross perversion and corruption as to 
doctrine, worship, and discipline of a pure and divine religion, brought from 
heaven to earth by the Son of God, the only King and Head of the Christian 
church, and propagated through the world by his inspired apostles. All com 
mands running counter to the declared will of the Supreme Legislator of heaven 
and earth are null and void, and therefore disobedience to them is a duty, not 
a crime. (See note a, p. 58.) Another thing that may be asserted with equal 
truth and safety is, that no government is to be submitted to at the expense 
of that which is the sole end of all government the common good and safety 
of society. Because, to submit in this case, if it should ever happen, would evi 
dently be to set up the means as more valuable and above the end, than which 
there cannot be a greater solecism and contradiction. The only reason of the in 
stitution of civil government, and the only rational ground of submission to it. 
is the common safety and utility. If, therefore, in any case, the common safety 
and utility would not be promoted by submission to government, but the con 
trary, there is no ground or motive for obedience and submission, but for the 
contrary. 

Whoever considers the nature of civil government, must indeed be sensible 
that a great degree of implicit confidence must unavoidably be placed in those 
that bear rule : this is implied in the very notion of authority s being originally 
a trust committed by the people to those who are vested with it, as all just and 
righteous authority is. All besides is mere lawless force and usurpation ; neither 
God nor nature having given any man a right of dominion over any society 
independently of that society s approbation and consent to be governed by him. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 87 

A people, really oppressed in a great degree by their 
sovereign, cannot well be insensible when they are so op 
pressed ; and such a people if I may allude to an ancient 
fable have, like the hesperian fruit, a dragon for their 



Now, as all men are fallible, it cannot be supposed that the public affairs of any 
state should be always administered in the best manner possible, even by persons 
of the greatest wisdom and integrity. Nor is it sufficient to legitimate disobe 
dience to the higher powers that they are not so administered, or that they are in 
some instances very ill-managed; for, upon this principle, it is scarcely suppos- 
able that any government at all could be supported, or subsist. Such a princi 
ple manifestly tends to the dissolution of government, and to throw all things 
into confusion and anarchy. But it is equally evident, upon the other hand, 
that those in authority may abuse their trust and power to such a degree, that 
neither the law of reason nor of religion requires that any obedience or submis 
sion should be paid to them; but, on the contrary, that they should be totally 
discarded, and the authority which they were before vested with transferred to 
others, who may exercise it more to those good purposes for which it is given. 
Nor is this principle, that resistance to the higher powers is in some extraordi 
nary cases justifiable, so liable to abuse as many persons seem to apprehend it. 
For, although there will be always some petulant, querulous men in every state, 
men of factious, turbulent, and carping dispositions, glad to lay hold of any 
trifle to justify and legitimate their caballing against their rulers, and other se 
ditious practices, yet there are, comparatively speaking, but few men of this 
contemptible character. It does not appear but that mankind in general have a 
disposition to be as submissive and passive and tame under government as they 
ought to be. Witness a great, if not the greatest, part of the known world, who 
are now groaning, but not murmuring, under the heavy yoke of tyranny 1 
While those who govern do it with any tolerable degree of moderation and jus 
tice, and in any good measure act up to their office and character by being 
public benefactors, the people will generally be easy and peaceable, and be 
rather inclined to flatter and adore than to insult and resist them. Nor was 
there ever any general complaint against any administration, which lasted long, 
but what there was good reason for. Till people find themselves greatly abused 
and oppressed by their governors, they are not apt to complain ; and whenever 
they do, in fact, find themselves thus abused and oppressed, they must be stupid 
not to complain. To say that subjects in general are not proper judges when 
their governors oppress them and play the tyrant, and when they defend their 
rights, administer justice impartially, and promote the public welfare, is as great 
treason as ever man uttered. T is treason, not against one single man, but the 
state against the whole body politic; tis treason against mankind, tis treason 
against common sense, tis treason against God. And this impious principle 
lays the foundation for justifying all the tyranny and oppression that ever any 
prince was guilty of. The people know for what end they set up and maintain 
their governors, and they are the proper judges when they execute their trust as 
they ought to do it; when their prince exercises an equitable and paternal 
authority over them; when from a prince and common father he exalts himself 
into a tyrant ; when from subjects and children he degrades them into the class 
of slaves, plunders them, makes them his prey, and unnaturally sports himself 
with their lives and fortunes. 



UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

protector and guardian. Nor would they have any reason 
to mourn if some Hercules should appear to dispatch him. 
For a nation thus abused to arise unanimously and resist 
their prince, even to the dethroning him, is not criminal, 
but a reasonable way of vindicating their liberties and 
just rights: it is making use of the means, and the only 
means, which God has put into their power for mutual and 
self defence. And it would be highly criminal in them not 
to make use of this means. It would be stupid tameness 
and unaccountable folly for whole nations to suffer one 
unreasonable, ambitious, and cruel man to wanton and 
riot in their misery. And in such a case, it would, of the 
two, be more rational to suppose that they that did not 
resist, than that they who did, would receive to them 
selves damnation. 

And this naturally brings us to make some reflections 
upon the resistance which was made, about a century since, 
to that unhappy prince King Charles I., and upon the an 
niversary of his death. This is a point which I should not 
have concerned myself about, were it not that some men 
continue to speak of it, even to this day, 1 with a great 
deal of warmth and zeal, and in such a manner as to un 
dermine all the principles of liberty, whether civil or reli 
gious, and to introduce the most abject slavery both in 
church and state so that it is become a matter of univer 
sal concern. "What I have to offer upon this subject will 
be comprised in a short answer to the following queries, 



i " The Episcopalians in New England, as well as the parent kingdom, 
regarded this anniversary as a sacred day, and observed it as a FAST. 
They took occasion not only to dwell on the great injustice done to the 
king in person, and the outrage, as they called it, committed against the 
crown, but to exalt and glorify Episcopacy and monarchy, and to abuse 
both Republicans and Puritans." Dr. Bradford s Life of Mayhew, 103, 
117. See note to the Preface. ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 89 

For what reason the resistance to King Charles the First 
was made. 

By whom it was made. 

Whether this resistance was rebellion, 11 or not. 

How the anniversary of King Charles s death came at 
first to be solemnized as a day of fasting and humiliation. 
And, lastly, 

Why those of the Episcopal clergy who are very high in 
the principles of ecclesiastical authority continue to speak 
of this unhappy man as a great saint and a martyr. 

For what reason, then, was the resistance to King 
Charles made ? The general answer to this inquiry is, 
that it was on account of the tyranny and oppression of 
his reign. Not a great while after his accession to the 
throne, he married a French Catholic, 1 and with her 
seemed to have wedded the politics, if not the religion 
of France, also. For afterwards, during a reign, or, rather, 
a tyranny of many years, he governed in a perfectly wild 
and arbitrary manner, paying no regard to the constitution 
and the laws of the kingdom, by which the power of the 
crown was limited, or to the solemn oath which he had 
taken at his coronation. It would be endless, as well as 
needless, to give a particular account of all the illegal and 
despotic measures which he took in his administration, 
partly from his own natural lust of power, and partly from 
the influence of wicked counsellors and ministers. He 
committed many illustrious members of both Houses of 
Parliament to the Tower for opposing his arbitrary 
schemes. He levied many taxes upon the people without 
consent of Parliament, and then imprisoned great numbers 



a N. B. I speak of rebellion, treason, saintship, martyrdom, etc., throughout 
this discourse, only in the scriptural and theological sense. 1 know not how 
the laiv defines them the study of that not being my employment. 

1 Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV. of France. ED. 

8* 



90 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

of the principal merchants and gentry for not paying 
them. He erected, or at least revived, several arbitrary 
courts, in which the most unheard-of barbarities were 
committed with his knowledge and approbation. He 
supported that more than fiend, Archbishop Laud, and 
the clergy of his stamp, in all their church-tyranny 1 and 
hellish cruelties. He authorized a book in favor of sports 
upon the Lord s day; and several clergymen were perse 
cuted by him and the mentioned pious bishop for not read 
ing it to the people after divine service. 2 When the Par 
liament complained to him of the arbitrary proceedings of 
his corrupt ministers, he told that august body, in a rough, 
domineering, unprincely manner, that he wondered any one 
should be so foolish and insolent as to think that he would 
part with the meanest of his servants upon their account. 
He refused to call any Parliament at all for the space of 
twelve years together, during all which time he governed 
in an absolute, lawless, and despotic manner. He took 
all opportunities to encourage the Papists, and to promote 
them to the highest offices of honor and trust. He (proba 
bly) abetted the horrid massacre in Ireland, in which two 
hundred thousand Protestants were butchered by the 
Roman Catholics. He sent a large sum of money, which 
he had raised by his arbitrary taxes, into Germany, to raise 
foreign troops, 3 in order to force more arbitrary taxes upon 

1 The intimate connection of this with New England history is touched 
upon in the Introduction to this volume. ED. 

2 " One Dr. Dawson read it," in church, as commanded, " and pres 
ently after read the Ten Commandments; then said : Dearly beloved, you 
have heard now the commandments of God and man : obey which you 
please. " Knight s History of England, iii. 415. ED. 

3 " Foreign troops." In 1027 Charles sent funds to Germany for mercenary 
German troops, to repel any insurrection consequent on the collection of the 
excise without grant by the Parliament. In 1028 the Commons " remon 
strated" against this " bringing in of strangers for aid, as pernicious to most 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 91 

his subjects. He not only, by a long series of actions, but 
also in plain terms, asserted an absolute, uncontrollable 
power, saying, even, in one of his speeches to Parlia 
ment, that, as it was blasphemy to dispute what God 
might do, so it was sedition in subjects to dispute what 
the king might do! Towards the end of his tyranny he 
came to the House of Commons, with an armed force," and 
demanded five of its principal members to be delivered up 
to him ; and this was a prelude to that unnatural war 
which he soon after levied against his own dutiful subjects, 
whom he was bound, by all the laws of honor, humanity, 
piety, and, I might add, of interest also, to defend and 
cherish .with a paternal affection. I have only time to 
hint at these facts 1 in a general way, all which, and many 



a Historians are not agreed what number of soldiers attended him in this 
monstrous invasion of the privileges of Parliament. Some say three hundred, 
some four hundred ; and the author of " The History of the Kings of Scotland " 
says five hundred. 

states, but to England fatal," and " we are bold to declare to your Majesty 
and the whole world, that we hold it far beneath the heart of any English 
man to think that this victorious nation should now stand in need of Ger 
man soldiers to defend their now king and kingdom." The king s insolent 
reply was, " I owe the account of my actions to God alone ! " and so prorogued 
the Parliament. In the year before he had said to them, at the opening of 
the session, " I mean not to spend much time in words. . . . I need 
but point out to you Avhat to do. I will use but few persuasions. . . . 
Take not this as a threatening, for I scorn to threaten any but my equals." 
When George II. brought German troops into England in 1750, " That 
state alone," exclaimed Pitt, "is a sovereign state which stands by its 
own strength, not by the help of another country." George III. bought 
with British money " the hireling sword of German boors and vassals" to 
reduce the American colonies, and this was one of the wrongs set forth in 
the Declaration of July 4, 1776 : " transporting large armies of foreign 
mercenaries." Kr>. 

i This summary, by Dr. Mayhew, in 1750, of the crimes of Charles I. 
which led to the Revolution of 1040, bears to Mr. Jefferson s " declaration" 
of the complaints against George III. the " causes" which led to the Rev 
olution of 1775 a resemblance so remarkable, both in form and spirit, 



92 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

more of the same tenor, may be proved by good authori 
ties. So that the figurative language which St. John uses 
concerning the just and beneficent deeds of our blessed 
Saviour may be applied to the unrighteous and execrable 
deeds of this prince, viz. : " And there are also many other 
things which" King Charles " did, the which, if they should 
be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself 
could not contain the books that should be written." a 
Now, it was on account of King Charles s thus assuming a 
power above the laws, in direct contradiction to his coro 
nation oath, and governing, the greatest part of his time, 
in the most arbitrary, oppressive manner it was upon 
this account that resistance was made to him, which at 
length issued in the loss of his crown, and of that head 
which was unworthy to wear it. 

But by whom was this resistance made ? Not by a 
private junto, not by a small seditious party, not by a few 
desperadoes, who to mend their fortunes would embroil 
the state ; but by the Lords and Commons of England. 
It was they that almost unanimously opposed the king s 
measures for overturning the constitution, and changing 
that free and happy government into a wretched, absolute 
monarchy. It was they that, when the king was about 
levying forces against his subjects in order to make him 
self absolute, commissioned officers, and raised an army to 
defend themselves and the public ; and it was they that 
maintained the war against him all along, till he was made 
a prisoner. This is indisputable ; though it was not, prop 
erly speaking, the Parliament, but the army, which put 

a John xxi.25. 

that a careful parallel of the two would not discredit a tradition, were there 
one, that Dr. Mayhew s was the model for that of a quarter of a century 
later. It is certain that Dr. Mayhew s sermon was circulated and read 
everywhere. ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 93 

him to death afterwards. And it ought to be freely 
acknowledged that most of their proceeding, in order to 
get this matter effected, 1 and particularly the court by 
which the king was at last tried and condemned, was little 
better than a mere mockery of justice. 

The next question which naturally arises is, whether this 
resistance which was made to the king by the Parliament 
was properly rebellion or not ? The answer to which is 



1 " It is much to be doubted whether his trial and execution have not, 
as much as any other circumstance, served to raise the character of the 
English nation in the opinion of Europe in general." CHARLES JAMES 
Fox. 

"Having share in the government, sirs, that is nothing pertaining to 
the people. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things." KING 
CHARLES I. on the scaffold. 

" Now Charles, to a degree which can scarcely be exceeded, conspired 
against the liberty of his country. To assert his own authority without 
limitation was the object of all his desires and all his actions, so far as the 

public was concerned For that purpose he commenced war 

against the English Parliament, and continued it by every expedient in 
his power for four years. ... He could never be reconciled ; he could 
never be disarmed ; he could never be convinced. His was a war to the 
death, and there had the utmost aggravation that can belong to a war 

against the liberty of a nation It is not easy to imagine a 

greater criminal than the individual against whom the sentence was 
awarded." WILLIAM GODWIN. 

"They were men sufficiently provided with daring; men, we are bound 
to see, who sat there as in the presence of the Maker of all men, as exe 
cuting the judgment of Heaven above, and had not the fear of any man or 
thing on the earth below. ... I reckon it perhaps the most daring 
action any body of men to be met with in. history ever, with clear con 
sciousness, deliberately set themselves to do." THOMAS CARLYLE. 

" God has endued you with greatness of mind to be the first of man 
kind, who, after having conquered their own king, and having had him 
delivered into their hands, have not scrupled to condemn him judicially, 
and, pursuant to that sentence of condemnation, to put him to death." 
JOHN MILTON. 

" Illustrious and heroic defenders of real, perfect, and unpolluted lib 
erty, civil and religious, throughout the world." EZRA STILES. ED. 



94 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

plain, that it was not, but a most righteous and glorious 
stand, made in defence of the natural and legal rights of 
the people, against the unnatural and illegal encroach 
ments of arbitrary power. Xor was this a rash and too 
sudden opposition. The nation had been patient under 
the oppressions of the crown, even to long-suffering, for a 
course of many years, and there was no rational hope of re 
dress in any other way. Resistance was absolutely neces 
sary, 1 in order to preserve the nation from slavery, misery, 
and ruin. And who so proper to make this resistance as 
the Lords and Commons, the whole representative body 
of the people, guardians of the public welfare ; and 
each of which was, in point of legislation, vested with an 
equal, coordinate power with that of the crown ? a Here 



a The English constitution is originally and essentially free. The character 
which Julius Ctesar and Tacitus both give of the ancient Britains so long ago is, 
that they were extremely jealous of their liberties, as well as a people of a mar 
tial spirit. Xor have there been wanting frequent instances and proofs of the 
same glorious spirit, in both respects, remaining in their posterity ever since, in 
the struggles they have made for liberty, both against foreign and domestic ty 
rants. Their kings hold their title to the throne solely by grant of Parliament; 
i. e., in other words, by the voluntary consent of the people; and, agreeably 
hereto, the prerogative and rights of the crown are stated, defined, and limited 
by law; and that as truly and strictly as the rights of any inferior officer in the 
state, or, indeed, of any private subject. And it is only in this respect that it can 
be said that " the king can do no wrong." Being restrained by the law, he can 
not, while he confines himself within those just limits which the law prescribes 
to him as the measure of his authority, injure and oppress the subject. The 
king, in his coronation oath, swears to exercise only such a power as the consti 
tution gives him; and the subject, in the oath of allegiance, swears only to obey 
him in the exercise of such a power. The king is as much bound by his oath not 
to infringe the legal rights of the people as the people are bound to yield subjec 
tion to him From whence it follows, that as soon as the prince sets himself up 
above law, he loses the king in the tyrant. He does, to all intents and purposes, 

i Lord Caraden relates that somebody asked the great Mr. Selden, whom 
Grotius called the glory of England, in what law-book, in what records 
or archives of the state, might be found the law for resisting tyranny. " I 
don t know," said Selden, " whether it would be worth your while to look 
deeply into books on this matter; but I will tell you what is most certain, 
that it has always been the CUSTOM of England, and the custom of Eng 
land is the law of the land." ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 95 

were two branches of the legislature against one ; two, 
which had law and equity and the constitution on their 
side, against one which was impiously attempting to over 
turn law and equity and the constitution, and to exercise 
a wanton, licentious sovereignty over the properties, con 
sciences, and lives of all the people ; such a sovereignty 
as some inconsiderately ascribe to the Supreme Governor 
of the world. I say, inconsiderately, because God himself 
does not govern in an absolutely arbitrary and despotic 
manner. The power of this almighty King I speak it 
not without caution and reverence the power of this 
almighty King is limited by law ; not indeed by acts of 
Parliament, but by the eternal laws of truth, wisdom, and 
equity, and the everlasting tables of right reason, tables 
that cannot be repealed, or thrown down and broken like 
those of Moses. But King Charles set himself up above 
all these, 1 as much as he did above the written laws of the 
realm, and made mere humor and caprice, which are no 
rule at all, the only rule and measure of his administration. 
And now is it not perfectly ridiculous to call resistance to 
such a tyrant by the name of rebellion? the grand rebel- 



unking himself by acting out of and beyond that sphere which the constitution 
allows him to move in; and in such cases he has no more right to be obeyed than 
any inferior officer who acts beyond his commission. The subject s obligation to 
allegiance then ceases, of course; and to resist him is no more rebellion than to 
resist any foreign invader. There is an essential difference betwixt government 
and tyranny, at least under such a constitution as the English. The former con 
sists in ruling according to law and equity; the latter, in ruling contrary to law 
and equity. So, also, there is an essential difference betwixt resisting a tyrant, 
and rebellion. The former is a just and reasonable s-elf-defence; the latter con 
sists in resisting a prince whose administration is just and legal; and this is 
what denominates it a crime. Now, it is evident that King Charles s government 
was illegal, and very oppressive, through the greatest part of his reign; and, 
therefore, to resist him was no more rebellion than to oppose any foreign in 
vader, or any other domestic oppressor. 

1 Veiy distinctly he did so. He began his reasons for dissolving the Par 
liament (March 10, 1028) with this : " Howsoever , princes are not bound to give 
account of their actions but to God alone." Rushworth, i., Appendix. ED. 



96 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

lion ? Even that Parliament which brought King 

Charles II. to the throne, and which run loyally mad, 
severely reproved one of their own members for condemn 
ing the proceedings of that Parliament which first took 
up arms against the former king. And upon the same 
principles that the proceeding of this Parliament may be 
censured as wicked and rebellious, the proceedings of those 
who, since, opposed King James II., and brought the 
Prince of Orange to the throne, may be censured as 
wicked and rebellious also. The cases are parallel. But, 
whatever some men may think, it is to be hoped that, for 
their own sakes, they will not dare to speak against the 
Revolution, upon the justice and legality of w^hich de 
pends, 1 in part, his present majesty s right to the throne. 

If it be said that although the Parliament which first 
opposed King Charles s measures, and at length took up 
arms against him, were not guilty of rebellion, yet cer 
tainly those persons were who condemned and put him to 
death, even this, perhaps, is not true ; for he had, in 
fact, unkinged himself long before, and had forfeited his 
title to the allegiance of the people. So that those who 
put him to death were, at most, only guilty of murder, 
which indeed is bad enough, if they were really guilty of 
that, which is, at least, disputable. 2 Cromwell, and 
those who were principally concerned in the (nominal) 
king s death, might possibly have been very wicked and 
designing men. Nor shall I say anything in vindication 
of the reigning hypocrisy of those times, or of Cromwell s 3 

1 This point was used, and with great power, during the next thirty 
years. We shall find it frequently made in the sermons in this collec 
tion. ED. 

2 See note 1, p. 02. ED. 

3 Carlyle says : " It is beautiful ... to see how the memory of 
Cromwell . . . has been steadily growing clearer and clearer in the 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS, 97 

maladministration during the interregnum ; for it is truth, 
and not a party, that I am speaking for. But still, it may 
be said that Cromwell and his adherents were not, properly 
speaking, guilty of rebellion, because he whom they be 
headed was not, properly speaking, their king, but a law 
less tyrant ; much less are the whole body of the nation 
at that time to be charged with rebellion on that account : 
for it was no national act ; it was not done by a free Par 
liament. And much less still is the nation at present to be 
charged with the great sin of rebellion for what their an 
cestors did, or, rather, did not, a century ago. 

But how came the anniversary of King Charles s death 
to be solomnized 1 as a day of fasting and humiliation? 



popular English mind; onwards to this day, the progress does not stop 
He declares Cromwell the English hero; - the soul and life of Puritan 
ism;" "the most English of Englishmen; "a great man, denizen of 
all centuries, or he could not have been, as he was, the pattern one of the 

- Letters and Speeches of Cromwell. ED. 

1 The diary of Evelyn, recently published, contains interesting notices of 
this Fast." January 30th, 1601, was the first solemn fast and day of hu 
miliation to deplore the sins which so long had provoked God against this 
afflicted church and people, ordered by Parliament to be annually cele 
brated to expiate the guilt of the execrable murder of the late king. 

" This day (0 the stupendous and inscrutable judgments of God!) were 
the carcasses of those arch-rebels, Cromwell, Bradshaw (the judge who 
condemned his Majesty), and Ireton (son-in-law to the usurper) draped 
out of their superb tombs in Westminster, among the kings, to Tyburn 
and hanged on the gallows there from nine in the mornin- till six at 
night, and then buried under that fatal and ignominious monument in a 
leep p,t; thousands of people who had seen them in all their pride beino- 
spectators. Look back at October 22, 1658,"- Oliver s funeral - < and be 
astonished, and fear God and honor the king; but meddle not with them 
who are given to change." But times change, and we change with them 
Not thirty years had passed before the martyr s " family was banished 
from the throne and nation. "And now," says Evelyn, the clergy began 
to change their note, both in pulpit and discourse, on their old passive 
todience, so as people begin to talk of the bishops being cast out of the 
House; and on the 30th of January, 1C89, he writes : " The anniversary of 

9 



98 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

The true answer in brief to which inquiry is, that this fast 
was instituted by way of court and compliment to King 
Charles II. upon the restoration. All were desirous of 
making their court to him, of ingratiating themselves, and 
of making him forget what had been done in opposition 
to his father, so as not to revenge it. To effect this ihey 
ran into the most extravagant professions of affection and 
loyalty to him, insomuch that he himself said that it was a 
rnad and hair-brained royalty which they professed. And, 
amongst other strange things which his first Parliament did, 
they ordered the thirtieth of January the day on which 
his father was beheaded to be kept as a day of solemn 
humiliation, to deprecate the judgments of Heaven for the 
rebellion which the nation had been guilty of, in that 
which was no national thing, and which was not rebellion 
in them that did it. Thus they soothed and flattered their 
new king at the expense of their liberties, and were ready 
to yield up freely to Charles II. all that enormous power 
which they had justly resisted Charles I. for usurping to 
himself. 

The last query mentioned was, Why those of the Epis 
copal clergy who are very high in the principles of ecclesi 
astical authority continue to speak of this unhappy man as 
a great saint and a martyr. This we know is what they 
constantly do, especially upon the thirtieth of January a 
day sacred to the extolling of him, and to the reproaching 
of those who are not of the Established Church^. " Out 
of the same mouth," on this day, " proceedeth blessing and 
cursing ;" a therewith bless they their God, even Charles, 
and therewith curse they the dissenters. And their 
" tongue can no man tame ; it is an unruly evil, full of 

a James iii. 8, 9, 10. 

King Charles the First s martyrdom; but in all the public offices and 
pulpit prayers the collects and litany for the king and queen were cur 
tailed and mutilated." ED. 



I 
NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 99 

deadly poison." King Charles is upon this solemnity 
frequently compared to our Lord Jesus Christ, both in 
respect of the holiness of his life and the greatness and 
injustice of his sufferings; and it is a wonder they do not 
add something concerning the merits of his death also: 
but "blessed saint" and "royal martyr" are as humble 
titles as any that are thought worthy of him. 

Now this may, at first view, well appear to be a very 
strange phenomenon ; for King Charles was really a man 
black with guilt, and " laden with iniquity," a as appears 
by his crimes before mentioned. He lived a tyrant ; and 
it was the oppression and violence of his reign that 
brought him to his untimely and violent end at last. 
Now, what of saintship or martyrdom is there in all this ? 
What of saintship is there in encouraging people to pro 
fane the Lord s day? What of saintship in falsehood and 
perjury? What of saintship in repeated robberies and 
depredations? What of saintship in throwing real saints 
and glorious patriots into jails? What of saintship in 
overturning an excellent civil constitution, and proudly 
grasping at an illegal and monstrous power? W r hat of 
saintshipr in the murder of thousands of innocent people, 
and involving a nation in all the calamities of civil war? 
And what of martyrdom is there in a man s bringing an 
immature and violent death upon himself by "being 
wicked overmuch" ? b Is there any such thing as grace 
without goodness; as being a follower of Christ without 
following him ; as being his disciple without learning of 
him to be just and beneficent; or as saintship without 
sanctity ? c If not, I fear it will be hard to prove this 

a Isa ; * 4 - b Eccles. vii. 17. 

c Is it any wonder that even persons who do not walk after their own lust 
should scoff at such saints as this, both in the first and in the last days, even 
from everlasting to everlasting? (2 l et. iii. 3, 4.) But perhaps it will be said that 
these things are mysteries, which, although very true in themselves, lay under 
standings cannot comprehend; or, indeed, any other persons amongst us besides 



100 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

man a saint. And verily one would be apt to suspect that 
that church must be but poorly stocked with saints and 
martyrs which is forced to adopt such enormous sinners 
into her calendar in order to swell the number. 

But, to unravel this mystery of (nonsense as well as 
of) iniquity, which has already worked for a long time 
amongst us, a or, at least, to give the most probable solu 
tion of it, it is to be remembered that King Charles, this 
burlesque upon saintship and martyrdom, though so great 
an oppressor, was a true friend to the church, so true a 
friend to her that he was very well affected towards the 
Roman Catholics, and would probably have been very 
willing to unite Lambeth and Rome. This appears by 
his marrying a true daughter of that true "mother of 
harlots," b which he did with a dispensation from the Pope, 
that supreme bishop, to whom, when he wrote, he gave the 
title of Most Holy Father. His queen was extremely 
bigoted to all the follies and superstitions, and to the 
hierarchy, of Rome, and had a prodigious ascendency over 
him all his life. It was in part owing to this that he 
(probably) abetted the massacre of the Protestants in 
Ireland, that he assisted in extirpating the French Protes- 



those who, being inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, have taken a trip across 
the Atlantic to obtain episcopal ordination and the indelible character. 1 How 
ever, if these consecrated gentlemen do not quite despair of us, it is hoped that, 
in the abundance of their charity, they will endeavor to elucidate these dark 
points, and at the same time explain the creed of another of their eminent saints, 
which we are told that unless we believe faithfully, i. e., believingly, we cannot 
be saved ; which creed, or rather riddle, notwithstanding all the labors of the 
pious and metaphysical Dr. Waterland, remains somewhat enigmatical still, 
a 2 Thess. ii. 7. b Rev. xvii. 5. 

1 Among these were Rev. Samuel Johnson, D. D., first President of 
King s College, and Rev. Timothy Cutler, D. D., President of Yale Col 
lege; Rev. Samuel A. Peters, LL. D., author of the remarkable " History 
of Connecticut;" the Rev. East Apthorp, missionary "in foreign parts," 
at Cambridge, Massachusetts; and, of later date, the Rev. Jacob Bailey, 
A. M., happily commemorated as " The Frontier Missionary " by the 
Rev. William S. Bartlett, A. M. ED. 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 101 

tants 1 at Rochelle, that he all along encouraged Papists 
and popishly affected clergymen, in preference to all other 
persons, and that he upheld that monster of wickedness, 
Archbishop Laud, and the bishops of his stamp, in all 
their church tyranny and diabolical cruelties. In return 
to his kindness and indulgence in which respects they 
caused many of the pulpits throughout the nation to ring 
with the divine, absolute, indefeasible right of kings with 
the praises of Charles and his reign, and with the damna 
ble sin of resisting the "Lord s anointed," let him do what 
he would ; so that not Christ, but Charles, was commonly 
preached to the people. In plain English, there seems 
to have been an impious bargain struck up betwixt the 
sceptre and the surplice for enslaving both the bodies and 
souls of men. The king appeared to be willing that the 
clergy should do what they would, set up a monstrous 
hierarchy like that of Rome, a monstrous Inquisition like 
that of Spain or Portugal, or anything else which their 
own pride and the devil s malice could prompt them to, 
provided always that the clergy would be tools to the 
crown ; that they would make the people believe that 
kings had God s authority for breaking God s law, that 
they had a commission from Heaven to seize the estates 
and lives of their subjects at pleasure, and that it was a 
damnable sin to resist them, even when they did such 

1 Many of the French Protestants found refuge in New England. They 
settled the town of Oxford, in Massachusetts, in 1080. Some of them 
settled in Boston, and their church in School Street must have been 
familiar to Dr. Mayhew, who would have peculiar sympathy with them as 
refugees. Many of their names are familiar to us: FANEUIL Hall, in 
Boston; BOWDOIX College, in Maine; LEGARE, of the bar; DEIIOX, of the 
clergy; SIGOURNEY (by marriage), among the poets. Interesting particu 
lars in Drake s History of Boston, Rev. Dr. Holmes s Memoir of the French 
Protestants who settled at Oxford, Massachusetts, A. D. 1080, and in Mr. 
Joseph Willard s tract on Naturalization in the American Colonies. ED. 

9* 



102 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND 

things as deserved more than damnation. This appears 
to be the true key for explaining the mysterious doctrine 
of King Charles s saintship and martyrdom. He was a 
saint, not because he was in his life a good man, but a 
good Churchman ; not because he was a lover of holiness, 
but the hierarchy; not because he was a friend to Christ, 
but the craft. And he was a martyr in his death, not 
because he bravely suffered death in the cause of truth 
and righteousness, but because he died an enemy to liberty 
and the rights of conscience ; i. e., not because he died an 
enemy to sin, but dissenters. For these reasons it is that 
all bigoted clergymen and friends to church power paint 
this man as a saint in his life, though he was such a 
mighty, such a royal sinner; and as a martyr in his death, 
though he fell a sacrifice only to his own ambition, avarice, 
and unbounded lust of power. And, from prostituting 
their praise upon King Charles, and offering him that 
incense which is not his due, it is natural for them to 
make a transition to the dissenters, as they commonly 
do, and to load them with that reproach which they do 
not deserve, they being generally professed enemies 
both to civil and ecclesiastical tyranny. We are com 
monly charged, upon the thirtieth of January, with the 
guilt of putting the king to death, under a notion that it 
was our ancestors that did it ; and so we are represented 
in the blackest colors, not only as schismatics, but also as 
traitors and rebels, and all that is bad. And these lofty 
gentlemen usually rail upon this head in such a manner as 
plainly shows that they are either grossly ignorant of the 
history of those times which they speak of, or which is 
worse that they are guilty of the most shameful prevari 
cation, slander, and falsehood. But every petty priest with 
a roll and a gown thinks he must do something in imitation 
of his betters in lawn, and show himself a true son of the 



NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. 103 

church: and thus, through a foolish ambition to appeal- 
considerable, they only render themselves contemptible. 1 

But, suppose our forefathers did kill their mock saint 
and martyr a century ago, what is that to us now ? If I 
mistake not, these gentlemen generally preach down the 
doctrine of the imputation of Adam s sin to his posterity 
as absurd and unreasonable, notwithstanding they have 
solemnly subscribed what is equivalent to it in their own 
articles of religion ; and therefore one would hardly expect 
that they would lay the guilt of the king s death upon us, 
although our forefathers had been the only authors of it : 
but this conduct is much more surprising when it does not 
appear that our ancestors had any more hand in it than 
their own. However, bigotry is sufficient to account for 
this and many other phenomena which cannot be accounted 
for in any other way. 

Although the observation of this anniversary seems to 
have been at least superstitious in its original; and al 
though it is often abused to very bad purposes by the 
established clergy, as they serve themselves of it to per- 

1 Dr. Bradford, the biographer of Dr. Mayhew, says: "It should be 
recollected that the governors in Massachusetts were then appointed by 
the king, and were Episcopalians, sent over from England. Their partic 
ular patronage and favor were bestowed on the few Episcopal clergy; 
which served to render them overbearing, and unwilling to allow the Con 
gregational clergy to be ministers of the gospel. So haughty and censo 
rious were most of them, that one was led to say of them, They know 
not what they are of. Great efforts were then making to settle Episcopal 
clergy in New England, who were most anxious to increase the members 
of the English Episcopal church, and to interfere with the other clergy. 
These Episcopal ministers were supported by the English hierarchy; and 
the civil administration of the British government particularly favored and 
encouraged this plan, for the purpose of supporting the political meas 
ures and views of the ministers, then strongly leaning to tory doctrines. 
It was considered important to increase and extend Episcopacy in the colo 
nies, with a view to secure obedience to all political measures and plans. 
No bishops, no kings/ was the opinion and party-cry of many." ED. 



104 UNLIMITED SUBMISSION. 

petuate strife, a, party spirit, and divisions in the Christian 
church ; yet it is to be hoped that one good end will be 
answered by it, quite contrary to their intention : It is 
to be hoped that it will prove a standing memento that 
Britons will not be slaves, and a warning to all corrupt 
counsellors and ministers not to go too far in advising to 
arbitrary, despotic measures. 

To conclude : Let us all learn to be free and to be loyal ; 
let us not profess ourselves vassals to the lawless pleasure 
of any man on earth ; but let us remember, at the same 
time, government is sacred, and not to be trifled with. 
It is our happiness to live under a prince who is satisfied 
with ruling according to law, as every other good prince 
will. We enjoy under his administration all the liberty 
that is proper and expedient for us. It becomes us, there 
fore, to be contented and dutiful subjects. Let us prize 
our freedom, but not " use our liberty for a cloak of ma 
liciousness." a There are men who strike at liberty under 
the term licentiousness ; there are others who aim at pop 
ularity under the disguise of patriotism. Be aware of 
both. Extremes are dangerous. There is at present 
amongst us, perhaps, more danger of the latter than of the 
former ; for which reason I would exhort you to pay all 
due regard to the government over us, to the king, and 
all in authority, and to "lead a quiet and peaceable life." b 
And, while I am speaking of loyalty to our earthly 
prince, suffer me just to put you in mind to be loyal also 
to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, " by whom kings 
reign and princes decree justice;" to which King, 
eternal, immortal, invisible, even to "the only wise God," d 
be all honor and praise, dominion and thanksgiving, through 
Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. 

a 1 Peter ii. 16. b l Tim. ii. 2. c Prov. viii. 15. d 1 Tim. i. 17. 



A 

DISCOURSE 

On "the good News from 
a far Country." 

Delivered July 



A Day of Thanks-giving to Almighty GOD, 
throughout the Province of the Maffachufetts- 
Bay in New-England, on Occafion of the 
REPEAL of the STAMP-ACT ; appointed 
by his Excellency, the GOVERNOR of faid 
Province, at the Defire of it s Houfe of RE 
PRESENTATIVES, with the Advice of his 
MAJESTY S COUNCIL. 



By CHARLES CHAUNCY, D.D. 

A Paftor of the firft Church in Eoflon. 



BOSTON: N. E. 

Printed by KNEELAND and ADAMS, in Milk-ftreet, 
for THOMAS LEVERETT, in Corn-hill. 

MDCCLXVI. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



THE origin of the Stamp Act can be best understood by a glance at the 
previous political relations of the colonies to the mother land. 

England, " a shop-keeping nation," J gained her riches by the commer 
cial monopoly under the " Navigation Acts," a system invented by Sir 
George Downing, the one whose name stands second on Harvard College 
catalogue. These acts were modified as the changes of commerce re 
quired, and the " Stamp Act," but one of the series, was intended to 
retain the old monopoly of American trade, which was greatly endan 
gered by the conquest of Canada. This was its origin and motive. 

The dispute resolved itself into this naked question, whether " the king 
in Parliament 2 had full power to bind the colonies and people of America 
in all cases whatsoever," or in none. 

The colonists argued that, by the feudal system, the king, lord para 
mount of lands in America, as in England, as such, had disposed of them, 
on certain conditions. James I., in 1621, informed Parliament that 
" America was not annexed to the realm, and that it was not fitting that 
Parliament should make laws for those countries;" and Charles I. told 
them " that the colonies were without the realm and jurisdiction of Parlia- 



1 This phrase is from a tract, 1766, by Tucker, Dean of Gloucester. At that 
date he advocated " a separation, parting with the colonies entirely, and then 
making leagues of friendship with them, as with so many independent states;" 
but, said he, * it was too enlarged an idea for a mind wholly occupied within the 
narrow circle of trade, 7 and a ib stranger to the revolutions of states and empires, 
thoroughly to comprehend, much less to digest." 

2 The answers of the Massachusetts Council, January 25th, and House of Rep 
resentatives, January 26th, to Governor Hutchinson s speech, January 6th, 1775, 
are rich in historical illustrations of this point, presented with great force of 
reason, and are decisive. 



108 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

merit." The colonists showed that the American charters were compacts 
between the king and his subjects who " transported themselves out of this 
kingdom of England into America," by which they owed allegiance to 
him personally as sovereign, but were to make their own laws and taxes : 
for instance, a revenue was raised in Virginia by a law " enacted by the 
King s most excellent Majesty, by and ivith the consent of the Gewral Assembly 
of the Colony of Virginia." They denied the authority of the legislature of 
Great Britain over them, but acknowledged his Majesty as a part of the 
several colonial legislatures. 

But the colonies, while jealous of their internal self-control, had per 
mitted the British Parliament to " regulate" their foreign trade, and, upon 
precedent, the latter now claimed authority to bind the colonies " in all 
cases whatsoever." Relying upon the royal compact in their charters, 
the spirit of the British constitution, and " their rights as Englishmen," 
the Americans denied the jurisdiction of their " brethren" in England. 

" Nil Desperandum, Christo Duce," was the motto on the flag of New 
England in 1745, when her Puritan sons conquered Louisburg, the 
stronghold of Papal France in the New World, and thus gave peace to 
Europe. This enterprise, in its spirit, was little less a crusade than was 
that to redeem Palestine from the thraldom of the Mussulman, and the 
sepulchre of Jesus from the infidels. One of the chaplains carried upon 
his shoulder a hatchet to destroy the images in the Romish churches. 
" O," exclaimed a good old deacon, to Pepperell, " that I could be 
with you and dear Parson Moody in that church, to destroy the images 
there set up, and hear the true gospel of our Lord and Saviour there 
preached ! My wife, who is ill and confined to her bed, yet is so spirited 

in the affair that she is very willing all her sons should 

wait on you, though it is outwardly greatly to our damage. One of them 
has already enlisted, and I know not but there will be more." 1 " Christo 
Duce! " The extinction of French dominion was quickly completed by 
the conquest of Canada in 1759-00, and at the same moment ceased the 
colonial need of the red-cross flag of St. George, whose nationality had 
been their protection against the aggressions of the French. The French 
being driven from Canada, New England could stand alone. This was 
the point " in the course of human events" when the sovereignty of 
England over the colonies was ended, though their formal " Declaration 
of American Independence," and of the dissolution of " the political 

1 Life of Pepperell, by Usher Parsons, M. D. 3d ed., 1856, p. 52. 



109 



bands" with the mother country, was not issued till several years later. 
The conquest of Canada was the emancipation of the colonies, as the 
opponents of the war predicted. British parliaments, though backed by 
British guns, and all the canons of the English church, were powerless 
against "the laws of nature and nature s God;" and the Stamp Act was 
merely a touchstone for certain " self-evident truths" not mere " sound 
ing and glittering generalities" enunciated on the Fourth of July, 1776. 
This attempt at despotism resulted in the alienation of the colonists from 
their brethren in England, the Union, the War of the Revolution, and the 
birth of a Nation. By it England lost her American dominion, won defeat 
and dishonor, and added to the national debt one hundred and four 
million pounds sterling, on which she is now paying interest, the work 
of George III. and his servile ministers, his " domestics," as they were 
called. But America saved not only her own liberty, but the liberty 
of England; the policy of George III. and his government, which the 
colonies defeated, if attempted at this day, would not only sever every 
colony, but overthrow the throne itself. In January, 1766, Mr. Pitt 
himself declared the American controversy to be " a great common 
cause," and that "America, if she fell, would fall like a strong man. 
She would embrace the pillars of the state, and pull down the constitu 
tion along with her." Hcai 4 Lord Camden, also : " I will say, not only as 
a statesman, politician, and philosopher, but as a common lawyer, you 
have no right to tax America. The natural rights of man and the 
immutable laws of nature are all with that people." And General Bur- 
goyne declared in Parliament, in 1781, that he "was now convinced the 
principle of the American war was wrong, . . . only one part of a sys 
tem levelled against the constitution and the general rights of mankind." 
It was equally for the sake of England as of America that Mr. Pitt and 
the high-minded men of that day "rejoiced" in our resistance to tyranny. 
"Passive obedience" then became an obsolete gospel. 

One of the most efficient causes of the Revolution in the minds and 
hearts of the people an accomplished fact before the war commenced 
was the controversy begun in 1763 by the Rev. Dr. Mayhew in his attack 
on the conduct of the " Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign 
Parts." The most insidious scheme for reducing the colonies to slavery 
was that of this society, which was known to be only an association for 
propagating " lords spiritual " in America,! who should inculcate, in the 

1 Mr. Arthur Lee, of Virginia, wrote from London, Sept. 22, 1771 : " The com- 

10 



110 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

name of religion, the Church of England principles of "submission and 
obedience, clear, absolute, and without exception." Dr. Mayhew exposed 
this pious fraud. The Bishop of Landaff, in his sermon of 1706, before 
this society, ingenuously declared, that when Episcopacy should b6 es 
tablished in America, " then this society will be brought to the happy issue 
intended "! 

This excited general alarm. The hierarchy could be established only by 
Parliament; and if, they reasoned, Parliament can authorize bishops, 
tithes, ceremonies, and tests in America, they can tax us; and what can 
they not do? The question was, really, Does the British Parliament, three 
thousand miles off, in which we have neither voice nor vote, own us, three 
million people, souls and bodies? The people considered the matter, 
and gradually got ready to fight about it, seeing no more " divine right" 
of parliaments than of kings, which last had been "unriddled" by Dr. 
Mayhew in 1750. 

The plot was to annul the charters, reduce the popular assemblies to a 
manageable size, arid increase the royal appointments; revise all the 
colonial acts, in order to set aside those which provided for the support 
of the ministers. "But, if the temper of the people makes it necessary, 
let a new bill for the purpose of supporting them pass the House, and the 
Council refuse their concurrence; if that will be improper, then the gover 
nor to negative it. If that cannot be done in good policy, then the bill to 
go home," that is, to England, "and let the king disallow it. Let 
bishops be introduced, and provision be made for the support of the Epis 
copal clergy. Let the Congregational and Presbyterian clergy who will 
receive ordination be supported, and the leading ministers among them be 
bought off by large salaries. Let the liturgy be revised and altered. Let 
Episcopacy be accommodated as much as possible to the cast of the 
people. Let places of power, trust, and honor be conferred only upon 
Episcopalians, or those that will conform. When Episcopacy is once 
established, increase its resemblance to the English hierarchy at pleasure "I l 

missary of Virginia is now here, with a view of prosecuting the scheme of an 
American Episcopate. He is an artful, though not an able man. You will con 
sider, sir, in your wisdom, whether any measures on your side may contribute to 
counteract this dangerous innovation. Regarding it as threatening the subver 
sion of both our civil and religious liberties, it shall meet with all the opposition 
in my power." To the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Massachusetts. 
l Dr. Stiles, iu Gordon s History of the American Revolution, i. 102, 103. ed. 
1794. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. Ill 

The wealth of England had been created by the " commercial servi 
tude " i of her American colonies ; and not only this monopoly of the 
colonial trade, but the commerce itself, was endangered by the aggressions 
of France, which had surrounded the English colonies by a chain of forts 
and settlements which reached from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to 
the mouth of the Mississippi. To save her commerce, her wealth, and 
her revenue, England drove " the haughty and insolent Gallic " out of 
Canada; not without ruinous drafts of men and money, especially from 
the northern colonies, which thereby contracted enormous debts and 
oppressive taxes. But England represented her own debt as a bill in 
curred for the benefit of the colonies, and so " the Commons of Great 
Britain in Parliament, ... for the purpose of raising a further REVE 
NUE within his Majesty s dominions of America," assumed " to give and 
grant" to his Majesty "a stamp duty" of pounds, shillings, and pence, 
upon all sorts of documents used by merchants, lawyers, in courts and 
custom-houses, or in any of the transactions of daily life. No farmer or 
tradesman could hang an "almanac" in the chimney-corner without 
paying the " stamp duty of twopence " or " fourpencc " if this hated act 
was enforced. But, long before the " first day of November, one thousand 
seven hundred and sixty-five," the day when it was to take effect, 
there burst forth in the colonies such a universal storm of wrath, that it 
was suddenly manifest that the Church of England gospel of implicit 
obedience did not prevail in America. 

" Your Majesty s Commons in Britian," said Mr. Burke, " undertake 
absolutely to dispose of the property of their fellow-subjects in America, with 
out their consent, . . . for they are not represented in Parliament; and 
indeed we think it impracticable ; it is not reconcilable to any ideas of 
liberty. ... I only say, that a great people, who have their property, 
without any reserve, in all cases, disposed of by another people at an im 
mense distance from them, will not think themselves in the enjoyment of 
freedom. It will be hard to show to those who are in such a state which 
of the usual parts of the definition or description of a free people are 
applicable to them. . . . Tell me what one character of liberty the 
Americans have, and what one brand of slavery they are free from, if 
they are bound in their property and industry by all the restraints you can 
imagine on commerce, and at the same time are made pack-horses of 
every tax you choose to impose, without the least share in granting them ? 
When they bear the burdens of unlimited monopoly, will you bring them 

1 Burke. 



112 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

to bear the burdens of unlimited revenue too? The Englishman in 
America will feel that this is slavery; that it is legal slavery, will be no 
compensation either to his feelings or understanding. . . . The feel 
ings of the colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britian; theirs 
were formerly the feelings of Mr. Hampden when called upon for the 
payment of twenty shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. 
Hampden s fortune ? No ; but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the 
principle upon which it was demanded, would have made him a SLAVE." 

Among the " Navigation Acts " was one of 6th George II., "An Act for 
the better securing and encouraging the Trade of his Majesty s Colonies in 
America," which was commonly called the " Molasses Act." The articles 
of molasses and sugar, it was demonstrated by Mr. Otis, entered into 
every branch of our commerce, fisheries, manufactures, and agriculture. 
The duty of sixpence on molasses was full one-half of its value, and its 
enforcement would have ruined commerce. Mr. Otis roundly declared that 
if the King of Great Britain in person were encamped on Boston Com 
mon, at the head of twenty thousand men, with all his navy on our coast, 
he would not be able to execute these laws; for " taxation without repre 
sentation was tyranny." This was in 1702, when the tyrannical writs of 
assistance 1 were applied for, to search for and seize smuggled goods, and 
under which the sanctuary of no home, no dwelling, no treasure would be 
sacred from the pollution and violence of any catchpole ready for the 
odious service, backed by the forms of law. 

John Adams said: " Wits may laugh at our fondness for molasses, and 
we ought all to join in the laugh with as much good humor as General 
Lincoln did. General Washington, however, always asserted and proved 
that Virginians loved molasses as well as New England men did. I know 
not why we should blush to confess that molasses was an essential ingredient 
in American independence. Many great events have proceeded from much 
smaller causes." 

These acts were repealed while America was in open resistance. "See 
what firmness and resolution will do," said the Sons of Liberty, when a copy 
of the act of repeal was received in Boston. With this act of repeal was 
another, simply declaratory of the authority of Parliament to bind the 



1 Just as the above is going to press, there is brought to light, by Mr. David 
Roberts, an original volume of the Salem custom-house records, May 22, 1761 
1775. which fills an important gap in the documentary history of the writs of 
assistance Hist. Collect. Essex Inst, August, 1860. 169. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 113 

colonies " in all cases whatsoever." " But," said JUNIUS, " it is truly 
astonishing that . . . they should have conceived that a compliance 
which acknowledged the. rod to be in the hands of the Americans, could ever 
induce them to surrender it." Mr. Grenville desired Mr. Knox s opinion of 
the effects which the repeal would produce in America. The answer was, 
"Addresses of thanks and measures of rebellion" 

The contemporary accounts from every part of the colonies show that 
never before had there been such rejoicings in America. It is a source of 
supreme satisfaction to reflect that Dr. May hew lived to share in this 
triumph of liberty. 

We naturally feel a certain curiosity as to the places which arc associ 
ated with great names and memorable scenes. Fortunately we have a 
lively description of the Council Chamber as it was when James Otis so elo 
quently opposed the writs of assistance, written by one who then heard the 
great patriot lawyer, and Avas familiar with its aspect, adornment, and fit 
tings. " Whenever," said the venerable Adams, " you shall find a painter, 
male or female, I pray you to suggest a scene and subject : The scene is 
the Council Chamber of the Old Town House in Boston ; the date is the month 
of February, 1701. That Council Chamber was as respectable an apart 
ment, and more so too, in proportion, than the House of Lords or House 
of Commons in Great Britain, or that in Philadelphia in which the Decla 
ration of Independence was signed in 1776. In this chamber, near the 
fire, were seated five judges, with Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson at 
their head as Chief Justice, all in their new, fresh robes of scarlet English 
cloth, in their broad bands, and immense judicial wigs. In this chamber 
was seated, at a long table, all the barristers of Boston and its neighboring 
county of Middlesex, in their gowns, bands, and rye-wigs. They were 
not seated on ivory chairs, but their dress was more solemn and more 
pompous than that of the Roman senate when the Gauls broke in upon 
them. In a corner of the room must be placed wit, sense, imagination, 
genius, pathos, reason, prudence, eloquence, learning, science, and im 
mense reading, hung by the shoulders on two crutches, covered with a 
cloth great-coat, in the person of Mr. Pratt, who had been solicited on 
both sides, but would engage on neither, being about to leave Boston for 
ever, as Chief Justice of New York. Two portraits, at more than full 
length, of King Charles the Second and King James the Second, in 
splendid golden frames, were hung up on the most conspicuous side of 
the apartment. If my young eyes or old memory have not deceived me, 
these were the finest pictures I have seen. The colors of their long flow- 

10* 



114 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

ing robes and their royal ermines were the most glowing, the figures the 
most noble and graceful, the features the most distinct and characteristic : 
far superior to those of the King and Queen of France in the Senate 
Chamber of Congress. I believe they were Vandyke s. Sure I am there 
was no painter in England capable of them at that time. They had been 
sent over, without frames, in Governor Pownall s time; but, as he was no 
admirer of Charleses or Jameses, they were stowed away in a garret among 
rubbish till Governor Bernard came, had them cleaned, superbly framed, 
and placed in council for the admiration and imitation of all men, no 
doubt with the concurrence of Hutchinson and all the junto." . . . 

" Now for the actors and performers. Mr. Gridlcy argued with his 
characteristic learning, ingenuity, and dignity, and said everything that 
could be said in favor of Cockle s petition; all depending, however, on 
the If the Parliament of Great Britain is the sovereign legislator of 
all the British empire. Mr. Thatcher followed him, on the other side, and 
argued with the softness of manners, the ingenuity, the cool reasoning 
which were peculiar to his amiable character. But Otis was a flame of 
fire. With a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a 
rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal author 
ities, a prophetic glare of his eyes into futurity, and a rapid torrent of 
impetuous eloquence, he hurried away all before him. American Inde 
pendence was then and there born. The seeds of patriots and heroes, to 
defend the Non Sine Diis Animosus Infans, to defend the vigorous youth, 
were then and there sown. Every man of an immense crowded audience 
appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take arms against writs of 
assistance. Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposi 
tion to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then arid there the child 
Independence was born. In fifteen years that is, in 1776 he grew up 
to manhood, and declared himself free." 

Dr. Chauncy, the preacher, was one of the greatest divines in New 
England, and no one except President Edwards and Dr. Jonathan May- 
hew had been so mtich known among the literati of Europe. He was 
zealous for liberty, and, on the death of Dr. Mnyhcw, continued the war 
against its most specious enemy with great power and learning. He was 
born January 1, 1705, graduated at Harvard College in 1721, and was 
pastor of the first church in Boston from 1727 till his death in 1787. 

This sermon an admirable historical picture, drawn by a master, 
himself a leader of the hosts abounds in facts, discusses the great princi- 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



115 



pies involved with energy and power, and with the calmness and precision 
of the statesman. 

The following witty lines, from the London " Craftsman "> newspaper 
of March 29th, 1766, give a lively and just idea of the effect of the Stamp 
Act on British industry, temper, and politics. 



CHAPTER IV. OF THE BOOK OF AMERICA. 

1. Tlie men of the cities assemble. 3. Their discourse to each other. 11. They 
petition the Grand Sanhedrim. 14. The lamentation of George the Treas 
urer. 19. Newspapers. 22. And hireling Scribes. 25. These Scribes write 
against taking off the tribute. 26. The subject of their letters. 32. They pre 
vail not. 34. But are answered. 38. The tribute taken off. 39. Great rejoic 
ings thereat. 41. The song of the people. 



. 11T A FTER these things the men 
+~ of London, and the men of 
Birmingham, and the men of the great 
cities and strong towns; even all who 
made cloth, and worked in iron and in 
steel, and in sundry metals, communed 
together. 

2 And they met in the gates of their 
cities, and of their towns; 

3 H And they said unto each other, 
Behold now the children of America 
are waxed strong; and they have not 
only opposed the men who were sent 
by George the Treasurer to collect the 
tribute on the marks which are called 
stamps ; 

4 But they make unto themselves the 
wares wherewith we were wont to fur 
nish them; 

5 And they will buy no more of us 
unless tliis tribute is taken off: 

6 And, moreover, they cannot pay 
unto us the monies which they owe; 
and the loss is great unto us, and the 
burthen thereof exceeding grievous: 

7 Neither can we give bread unto 
those who labored for us; and behold! 
they, and their wives, and their little 
ones, have not bread to eat. 

8 What then shall we do ? and 
wherewithal shall we be comforted? 

9 Shall we not petition our Lord the 
King, and his Princes, and the wise 
men of the nation, even the Grand 
Sanhedrim of the nation? 



10 For we know that they are good 
and gracious, and will hearken to the 
voice of the people, who open their 
mouths and cry unto them for bread. 

11 U Then the men of London, and 
the men of the great cities, sat them 
down and wrote petitions. 

12 And they sent men from amongst 
them, that were goodly men to look 
at ; and they stood before the Grand 
Sanhedrim : 

13 And they presented their peti 
tions, and they were read, and days 
were appointed to consider them. 

14 IT Now it came to pass, that while 
these things were doing, that George 
the late Treasurer, and those who had 
joined in laying the tribute on the 
stamps, were wroth, and their coun 
tenances fell; 

15 And they said in themselves, If 
this tribute is taken off, then William 
the late Scribe, and those who are now 
in authority, and who have taken our 
places, will be had in remembrance of 
men. 

16 And we also shall be had in re 
membrance, but it will be with evil 
remembrance indeed. 

17 For behold the people will say, 
It is we that \\avecursed the land; and 
it is they who have blessed it. 

18 Therefore we must bestir ourselves 
like men, to oppose the taking off the 
tribute, let whatsoever hap besides. 



116 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



19 IT And in those days there were 
papers sold daily among the men of 
Britain, which declared those which 
were joined in marriage, those which 
were gathered unto their fathers, and 
those who had found favour in the eyes 
of the King and his rulers, and were 
exalted above their brethren, 

20 And also of whatsoever was done 
in the land. 

21 And these papers were called 
newspapers; and all men read them. 

22 IT And there were certain also 
Scribes who let themselves out unto 
hire. 

23 And one of the chief of these was 
a Levite, and his name was Anti Se- 
janus. 

24 And these Scribes were hired to 
poison the minds of the people, and to 
cause them to set their faces against 
the men of America their brethren. 

25 IT Then came Anti Sejanus, and 
Pacificus, and Pro Patria, and sun 
dry other children of Belial, and they 
wrote letters which were put into the 
newspapers. 

26 IT And they said in those letters, 
Men and brethren! Behold, the men of 
America are rich, and they are grown 
insolent, being full of bread; 

27 And they are not mindful of the 
days of old when they were poor, but 
they would withdraw themselves from 
under the wings of their mother Brit 
ain. 

28 And they would establish them 
selves as a people, and suffer us to have 
no power over them. 

29 Behold, they have opposed the 
edict, and they are become as rebels. 

30 Wherefore then go we not forth 
with a strong hand, and force them 
unto obedience to us? 

31 And if they are still murmuring, 
and shall still oppose our authority, 
why do we not send fire and sword 
into their land, and cut them off from 
the face of the earth? 

32 If And these children of Belial 
who dipped their pens for hire, and 
would scatter plagues in wantonness, 
and say, This is sport; 



33 Even these men wrote still more. 
Yet they prevailed not. 

34 IT For they were answered, So the 
men of America are our brethren ; they 
are the children of our forefathers; 
and shall we seek their blood? If they 
are mistaken shall we not pity them, 
and keep them obedient unto us 
through love? 

35 For behold, it is a wise saying of 
old, That many flies may be cauglit 
with a little honey ; but ivith much 
vinegar ye can catch not one. 

36 Neither are they inclined to be a 
people of themselves, but wish yet to 
be under our wing. 

37 And.the counsel of these men pre 
vailed; for the counsel of the hireling 
Scribes was defeated ; even as was the 
counsel of Achitophel in the days of 
David, King of Israel. 

38 IT For behold, the Grand Sanhe 
drim took off the tribute from the peo 
ple; and George THE GRACIOUS King 
of Britain assented thereto. 

39 If Then were great rejoicings made 
throughout the land; and flres were 
lighted up in the streets, and the people 
eat, drank, and were merry. 

40 And they sang a new song, saying, 

41 IT Long live the King; let his name 
be glorious, and may his rule over us be 
happy. 

42 And may the princes and the rul 
ers of the land, and the wise men of 
the Lord the King, and all those who 
joined to take off this tribute, be blessed. 

43 For they have listened unto the 
cries of the people, and have given ear 
unto the voice of calamity ; they have 
procured the payment of Ihe debts of 
the merchants of this land, ease to the 
children of America, and labor and 
bread to the poor. 

44 And the women shall sing their 
praises; and the little children shall 
lisp out, Bless the King and his San 
hedrim. 

45 For we were desolate and dis 
tressed; our hammers and our shuttles 
were useless; for we got no work; nei 
ther had we bread to eat for ourselves, 
nor our little ones. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 117 



46 But now can we work, rejoice, of the hirelings there was shame, and 
and be exceeding glad. the scorn of all good men fell upon 

47 And there was peace in the land. them, and their employers, so that their 

48 But to Anti Sejanus and the rest names were had in abomination. 



BY HIS EXCELLENCY 

FRANCIS BERNARD, ESQ., 

Captain- General and Governor-in- Chief in and over His Majesty s Province 
of Massachusetts Bay in New England, and Vice- Admiral of the same. 

A PROCLAMATION 

FOR A DAY OP PUBLIC THANKSGIVING. 

Whereas the House of Representatives of this Province having in the 
last session taken into their consideration the kind interposition of Prov 
idence in disposing our most gracious Sovereign and both Houses of 
Parliament to hearken to the united supplications of his dutiful and loyal 
Subjects in America, and to remove the great difficulties which the Colo 
nies in general, and this Province in particular, labored under, occasioned 
by the Stamp Act, did resolve that the Governor be desired to appoint a 
Day of General Thanksgiving to be observed throughout this Province, 
that the good People thereof may have an opportunity in a public man 
ner to express their Gratitude to Almighty GOD for his great Goodness 
in thus delivering them from their Anxiety and Distress and restoring the 
Province to its former Peace and Tranquillity: which Resolution was con 
curred in by the Council, and has since been laid before me : 

In pursuance of such Desire, so signified unto me, I have thought fit to 
appoint, and I do, by and ,with the advice of his Majesty s Council, ap 
point Thursday, the twenty-fourth day of this instant July, to be a Day 
of Prayer and Thanksgiving; that the ministers of GOD S holy word may 
thereupon assemble to return Thanks to Almighty GOD for his Mercies 
aforesaid, and to desire that he would be pleased to give his People Grace 
to make a right improvement of them, by observing and promoting a 
dutiful Submission to the Sovereign Power to which they are subordinate, 
and a brotherly Love and Affection to that People from whom they are 
derived, and to whom they are nearly related by civil Policy and mutual 
interests. 

And I command and enjoin all Magistrates and Civil Officers to see 



118 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

that said Day be observed as a Day set apart for Religious Worship, and 
that no servile Labor be permitted therein. 

GIVEN at the Council Chamber in BOSTON, the fourth day of July, 1766, 
in the Sixth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the 
Third, by the Grace of GOD, of GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, and IRELAND, 
KING, Defender of the Faith, etc. 

FEA. BERNARD. 
By His Excellency s Command. 

JOHN COTTON, Dept. Sec y. 



safre tfyt 31 i rig. 



DISCOURSE II 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 



AS COLD WATERS TO A THIRSTY SOUL, SO IS GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR 

COUNTRY. Proverbs xxv. 25. 



WE are so formed by the God of nature, doubtless for 
wise and good ends, that the uneasy sensation to which 
we give the name of thirst is an inseparable attendant on 
the want of some proper liquid ; and as this want is in 
creased, such proportionably will be the increase of un 
easiness ; and the uneasiness may gradually heighten, till 
it throws one into a state that is truly tormenting. The 
application of cooling drink is fitted, by an established law 
of heaven, not only to remove away this uneasiness, but 
to give pleasure in the doing of it, by its manner of acting 
upon the organs of taste. There is scarce a keener per 
ception of pleasure than that which is felt by one that is 
athirst upon being satisfied with agreeable drink. Hence 
the desire of spiritual good things, in those who have had 
excited in them a serious sense of God and religion, is 
represented, in the sacred books, by the "cravings of a 
thirsty man after drink." Hence the devout David, when 
he would express the longing of his soul to "appear be 
fore God in his sanctuary," resembles it to the "panting 
of a hart after the water-brooks." In like manner, " cold 
water to a thirsty soul" is the image under which the wise 
man would signify, in my text, the gratefulness of "good 



120 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

news." T is refreshing to the soul, as cold waters to the 
tongue when parched with thirst. Especially is good 
news adapted to affect the heart with pleasure when it 
comes "from a far country," and is big with important 
blessings, not to a few individuals only, but to communi 
ties, and numbers of them scattered over a largely ex 
tended continent. 

Such is the "good news" lately brought us 1 from the 
other side the great waters. No news handed to us from 
Great Britain ever gave us a quicker sense, or higher de 
gree, of pleasure. It rapidly spread through the colonies, 
and, as it passed along, opened in all hearts the springs of 



1 The Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary, Thursday, April 3, 1766, 
contains an account of the earliest rumor in Boston of the repeal, and of 
the public enthusiasm : " Upon a Report from Philadelphia of the Re 
peal of the Stamp Act, on Tuesday last, a great Number of Persons assem 
bled under Liberty Tree," near the corner of Essex and Washington 
streets, " where two Field Pieces were carried, a Royal Salute fired, 
and three Huzzas given on such a joyful Piece of Intelligence. A con 
siderable Number of the Inhabitants of this Town assembled at Faneuil- 
Hall on Tuesday last, when they made choice of the Hon. James Otis, 
Esq., as Moderator of the Meeting. The Moderator then acquainted the 
Assembly that the Probability of very soon receiving authentic Accounts 
of the absolute Repeal of the Stamp Act had occasioned the present Meet 
ing; and as this would be an Event in which the Inhabitants of this Me 
tropolis, as well as North America, would have the greatest Occasion of 
Joy, it was thought expedient by many that this Meeting should come 
into Measures for fixing the Time when those Rejoicings should be made, 
and the Manner in which they should be conducted; whereupon it was 

" Voted, That the Selectmen be desired, when they shall hear the certain 
News of the Repeal of the STAMP ACT, to fix upon a Time for general 
Rejoicings; and that they give the Inhabitants seasonable Notice in such 
Manner as they shall think best." The expressions of joy were as ex 
travagant throughout England as they were in the colonies. " There 
were upwards of twenty men, booted and spurred, in the lobby of the 
Hon. House of Commons, ready to be dispatched express, by the mer 
chants, to the different parts of Great Britain and Ireland, upon this 
important affair." ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 121 

joy. The emotion of a soul just famished with thirst 
upon taking down a full draught of cold water is but a 
faint emblem of the superior gladness with which we were 
universally filled upon this great occasion. That was the 
language of our mouths, signifying the pleasurable state 
of our minds, " As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is this 
good news from a far country." 

What I have in view is, to take occasion, from these 
words, to call your attention to some of the important ar 
ticles contained in the good news we have heard, which 
so powerfully fit it to excite a pungent sense of pleasure 
in the breasts of all that inhabit these American lands. 
The way will then be prepared to point out to you the 
wisest and best use we can make of these glad tidings 
"from a far country." 

The first article in this "good news," obviously present 
ing itself to consideration, is the kind and righteous re 
gard the supreme authority 1 in England, to which we 
inviolably owe submission, has paid to the " commercial 
good" of the nation at home, and its dependent provinces 
and islands. One of the expressly assigned reasons for 
the repeal of the Stamp Act is declared in these words : 
"Whereas the continuance of said act may be productive 
of consequences greatly detrimental to the commercial 
interests of these kingdoms, may it therefore please" 
The English colonies and islands are certainly included in 

1 Tliis doctrine was expressed by Mr. James Otis, early in 1704, that we 
" ought to yield obedience to an Act of Parliament, though erroneous, till 
repealed." And by the Council and House of Representatives, Nov. 3d, 
1764 : " We acknowledge it to be our duty to yield obedience to it while 
it continues unrepealed." But want of representation, and, next, that the 
colonies were not within the realm, soon led to a denial of the authority 
of Parliament, for a submission to a tax of a farthing would have aban 
doned the great principle. It was riot the amount of the tax, but the 
right to tax, that was in issue. " In for a penny, in for a pound." ED. 

11 



122 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

the words "these kingdoms," 1 for they are as truly parts 
of them as either Scotland, Ireland, or even England 
itself. It was therefore with a professed view to the com 
mercial good, not only of the nation at home, but of the 
plantations also abroad, that the authority of the British 
King and Parliament interposed to render null and void 
that act, which, had it been continued in force, might in 
its consequences have tended to the hurt of this grand in 
terest, inseparably connected with the welfare of both. 
From what more noble source could a repeal of this act 
have proceeded ? Not merely the repeal, but that benev 
olent, righteous regard to the public good which gave it 
birth, is an important ingredient in the news that has 
made us glad. And wherein could this "good news" 
have been better adapted to soften our hearts, soothe our 
passions, and excite in us the sensations of unmingled joy? 
What that is conducive to our real happiness may we not 
expect from a King and Parliament whose regard to " the 
commercial interest" 2 of the British kingdoms has over- 



1 That " the colonies were without the realm and jurisdiction of Parlia 
ment," was demonstrated in the learned and able answers of the Council 
and House of Representatives to Governor Hutchinson s speech of Janu 
ary 6, 1773 : " Your Excellency tells us, you know of no line that can be 
drawn between the supreme authority of Parliament and the total inde 
pendence of the colonies. If there be no such line, the consequence is, 
either that the colonies are the vassals of the Parliament, or that they are 
totally independent." In his gratitude, Dr. Chauncy took quite too gen 
erous a view of the " repeal." The interests of the colonies were always 
subordinate. The Navigation Act, 12th Chas. II. ch. 19, and the colonial 
policy of England, as of all nations, considered only the interests of the 
realm. ED. 

2 Mr. Burke, in his speech on " American taxation," years afterward, 
1774, said the laws were repealed "because they .raised a flame in Amer 
ica, for reasons political, not commercial: as Lord Hillsborough s letter 
well expresses it, to regain the confidence and affection of the colonies, 
on which the glory and safety of the British empire depend. " ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 123 

powered all opposition from resentment, the display of 
sovereign pleasure, or whatever other cause, and influ 
enced them to give up even a crown revenue for the sake 
of a greater national good ! With what confidence may 
we rely upon such a supreme legislature for the redress of 
all grievances, especially in the article of trade, and the 
devising every wise and fit method to put and keep it in a 
flourishing state ! Should anything, in time to come, un 
happily be brought into event detrimental in its operation 
to the commerce between the mother country and these 
colonies, through misrepresentations from "lovers of them 
selves more than lovers " of their king and country, may 
we not encourage ourselves to hope that the like generous 
public spirit that has relieved us now will again interpose 
itself on our behalf? Happy are we in being under the 
government of a King and Parliament who can repeal as 
well as enact a law, upon a view of it as tending to the 
public happiness. How preferable is our condition to 
theirs who have nothing to expect but from the arbitrary 
will of those to whom they are slaves 1 rather than sub 
jects! 

Another thing, giving us singular pleasure, contained in 
this " good news," is, the total removal of a grievous bur 
den we must have sunk under had it been continued. 
Had the real state of the colonies been as well known at 
home as it is here, it is not easily supposable any there 
would have thought the tax imposed on us by the Stamp 
Act was suitably adjusted to our circumstances and abili 
ties. There is scarce a man 2 in any of e colonies, cer- 

1 " If we arc not represented, we are slaves." Letter to Massachusetts 
agent, June 13, 1764. ED. 

2 Mr. Burke, in 1763, showing the difficulties of American representation 
in Parliament, said : " Some of the most considerable provinces of Amer 
ica such, for instance, as Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay have not 



124 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

tainly there is not in the New England ones, that would 
be deemed worthy of the name of a rich man in Great 
Britain. There may be here and there a rare instance of 
one that may have acquired twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty 
thousand pounds sterling, and this is the most that can 
be made of what they may be thought worth, but for 
the rest, they are, generally speaking, in a low condition, 
or, at best, not greatly rising above it ; though in different 
degrees, variously placing them in the enjoyment of the 
necessities and comforts of life. And such it might natu 
rally be expected would be the true state of the colonists ; 
as the lands they possess in this new country could not 
have been subdued and fitted for profitable use but by 
labor too expensive to allow of their being, at present, 
much increased in wealth. This labor, indeed, may prop 
erly be considered as a natural tax, which, though it has 
made way for an astonishing increase of subjects to the 
British empire, greatly adding to its dignity and strength, 
has yet been the occasion of keeping us poor and low. It 
ought also to be remembered the occasions, in a new 
country, for the grant or purchase of property, with the 
obligations arising therefrom, and in instances of compara 
tively small value, are unavoidably more numerous than 
in those that have been long settled. The occasions, also, 
for recourse to the law are in like manner vastly multi 
plied ; for which reason the same tax by stamped paper 
would take vastly more, in proportion, from the people 



in each of them two men who can afford, at a distance from their estates, 
to spend a thousand pounds a year. How can these provinces be repre 
sented at Westminster?" Governor Pownall, at Boston, Sept. 6th, 1757, 
wrote to Admiral Holbourn : " I am here at the head and lead of what is 
called a rich, flourishing, powerful, enterprising country. Tis all puff, 
tis all false; they are ruined and undone in their circumstances. The 
first act I passed was an Act for the Relief of Bankrupts." ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 125 

here than in England. And what would have rendered 
this duty the more hard and severe is, that it must have 
been paid in addition to the government tax here, 1 which 

i Massachusetts, of about two hundred and forty thousand inhabitants, 
expended in the war eight hundred and eighteen thousand pounds ster 
ling, for four hundred and ninety thousand pounds of which she had no 
compensation. Connecticut, with only one hundred and forty-six thou 
sand inhabitants, expended, exclusive of Parliament grants, upwards of 
four hundred thousand pounds sterling. Dr. Belknap s pertinent inquiry, 
in view of the parliamentary pretence for their revenue acts " to defray 
the expenses of protecting, defending, and securing " the colonies, was, 
" If we had not done our part toward the protection and defence of our 
country, why were our expenditures reimbursed by Parliament," even in 
part? Dr. Trumbull says that Massachusetts annually sent into the field 
five thousand five hundred men, and one year seven thousand. Connecti 
cut had about three thousand men in the field, and for some time six thou 
sand, and for some years these two colonies alone furnished ten thousand 
men in actual service. Pennsylvania disbursed about five hundred thou 
sand pounds, and was reimbursed only about sixty thousand pounds. 
New Hampshire, New York, and especially Rhode Island in her naval en 
terprise, displayed like zeal. Probably twenty thousand of these men 
were lost, " the most firm and hardy young men, the flower of their 
country." Many others were maimed and enervated. The population 
and settlement of the country was retarded, husbandry and commerce 
were injured. " At the same time, the war was unfriendly to literature, 
destructive of domestic happiness, and injurious to piety and the social 
virtues." 

In 1762 Mr. Otis said : "This province " Massachusetts " has, since 
the year 1754, levied for his Majesty s service, as soldiers and seamen, near 
thirty thousand men, besides what have been otherwise employed. One 
year in particular it was said that every fifth man was engaged, in one 
shape or another. We have raised sums for the support of this war that 
the last generation could have hardly formed any idea of. We are now 
deeply in debt." 

Mr. Burke, in 1775, cited from their records " the repeated acknowledg 
ment of Parliament that the colonies not only gave, but gave to satiety. 
This nation has formally acknowledged two things : first, that the colonies 
had gone beyond their abilities Parliament having thought it necessary 
to reimburse them; secondly, that they had acted legally and laudably in 
their grants of money and their maintenance of troops, since the compen 
sation is expressly given as a reward and encouragement." Indeed, the 

11* 



126 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

was, I have good reason to think, more heavy on us in the 
late war, and is so still, on account of the great debt then 
contracted, at least in this province, in proportion to our 
numbers and abilities, than that which, in every way, was 
laid on the people either of Scotland, Ireland, or England. 41 
This, if mentioned cursorily, was never, that I remember, 
enlarged upon and set in a striking light in any of the 
papers written in the late times, as it might easily have 
been done, and to good purpose. Besides all which, it is 



a I have been assured, by a gentleman of reputation and fortune in this town, 
that in the late time of war he sent one of his rate-bills to a correspondent of 
note in London for his judgment upon it, and had this answer in return from 
his friend : " That he did not believe there was a man in all England who paid 
so much, in proportion, towards the support of the government." It will render 
the above account the more easily credible if I inform the reader that I have 
lately and purposely conversed with one of the assessors of this town, who has 
been annually chosen by them into this office for a great number of years, for 
which reason he may be thought a person of integrity, and one that may be de 
pended on, and he declares to me that the assessment upon this town, particularly 
in one of the years when the tax on account of the war was great, was as fol 
lows : On personal estate, thirteen shillings and fourpence on the pound; that is 
to say, if a man s income from money at interest, or in any other way, was sixty 
pounds per annum, he was assessed sixty times thirteen shillings and fourpence, 
and in this proportion, whether the sum was more or less. On real estate the 
assessment was at the rate of six years income; that is to say, if a man s house 
or land was valued at two hundred pounds per annum income, this two hundred 
pounds was multiplied by six, amounting to twelve hundred pounds, and the 
interest of this twelve hundred pounds that is, seventy-two pounds was the 
sum he was obliged to pay. Besides this, the rate upon every man s poll, and 
the polls of all the males in his house upwards of sixteen years of age, was about 
nineteen shillings lawful money, which is only one quarter part short of sterling. 
Over and above all this, they paid their part of an excise that was laid upon tea, 
coffee, rum, and wine, amounting to a very considerable sum. 

How it. was in the other provinces, or in the other towns of this, I know not; 
but it may be relied on as fact, that this was the tax levied upon the town of 
Boston ; and it has been great ever since, though not so enormously so as at that 
time. Every one may now judge whether we had not abundant reason for 
mournful complaint when, in addition to the vast sums considering our 
numbers and abilities we were obliged to pay, we were loaded with the stamp 
duty, which would in a few years have taken away all our money, and rendered 
us absolutely incapable either of supporting the government here or of carrying 
on any sort of commerce, unless by an exchange of commodities. 

" Albany Plan of Union," a scheme by which America could protect her 
self against France, had been sent "home" for government approbation; 
but it was not sanctioned. ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 127 

undoubtedly true that the circulating money in all the 
colonies would not have been sufficient to have paid the 
stamp duty only for two years; 1 and an effectual bar was 
put in the way of the introduction of more 2 by the re 
straints that were laid upon our trade in those instances 
wherein it might in some measure have been procured. 

It was this grievance that occasioned the bitter com 
plaint all over these lands: "We are denied straw, and 
yet the full tale of bricks is required of us ! " Or, as it 
was otherwise uttered, We must soon be obliged "to 
borrow money for the king s tribute, and that upon our 
lands. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, 
our children as their children : and lo ! we must bring 
into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants." 
We should have been stupid had not a spirit been excited 
in us to apply, in all reasonable ways, for the removal 



1 Dr. Franklin testified, in 17GG: "In my opinion there is not gold and 
silver enough in the colonies to pay the stamp duty for one year." ED, 

2 " Most of our silver and gold, . . . great part of the revenue of 
these kingdoms, . . . great part of the wealth we see," says an Eng 
lish statistical writer of 1755, we "have from the northern colonies." 
This silver and gold was obtained by the colonial trade with the West 
Indies, and other markets, where fish, rice, and other colonial products 
and British manufactures were sold or bartered. This coin, or bullion, 
was remitted to English merchants, monopolists, who always held a 
balance against the colonists. "The northern provinces import from 
Great Britain ten times more than they send in return to us." BURKE. 
This left very little " circulating money" in their hands, and much of their 
trade had to be done by barter. The act of April 5, 1704, for raising a 
revenue in America, exacted the duties in specie, and at the same time 
the "regulations" for restricting their trade with the West Indies, enforced 
by armed vessels and custom officers, cruising on our coasts, suddenly 
destroyed this best portion of their commerce, and the flow of gold and 
silver through New England hands as quickly ceased. This spread a 
universal consternation throughout the colonies, and they likened the 
threatened slavery under George III. and the Parliament to the Hebrew 
bondage to Pharaoh. ED. 



128 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

of so insupportable a burden. And such a union in spirit 
was never before seen in the colonies, nor was there ever 
such universal joy, as upon the news of our deliverance 
from that which might have proved a yoke the most 
grievous that was ever laid upon our necks. It affected 
in all hearts the lively perceptions of-pleasure, filling our 
mouths with laughter. No man appeared without a smile 
in his countenance. No one met his friend but he bid 
him joy. That was our united song of praise, " Thou hast 
turned for us our mourning into dancing ; thou hast put 
off our sackcloth, and girded us with gladness. Our 
glory [our tongue] shall sing praise to thee, and not be 
silent : O Lord our God ! we will give thanks to thee 
forever." 

Another thing in this "news," making it "good," is, the 
hopeful prospect it gives us of being continued in the 
enjoyment of certain liberties and privileges, valued by us 
next to life itself. Such are those of being "tried by our 
equals," and of " making grants for the support of govern 
ment of that which is our own, either in person or by 
representatives we have chosen for the purpose." Whether 
the colonists were invested with a right to these liberties 
and privileges which ought not to be wrested from them, 
or whether they were not, t is the truth of fact that they 
really thought they were; all of them, as natural heirs to 
it by being born subjects to the British crown, and some 
of them by additional charter-grants, the legality of which, 
instead of being contested, have all along, from the days 
of our fathers, been assented to and allowed of by the 
supreme authority at home. And they imagined, whether 
justly or not I dispute not, that their right to the full and 
free enjoyment of these privileges was their righteous due, 
in consequence of what they and their forefathers had done 
suffered in subduing and defending these American 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 129 

lands, not only for their own support, but to add. extent, 
strength, and glory to the British crown. And as it had 
been early and deeply impressed on their minds that their 
charter privileges were rights that had been dearly paid 
for by a vast expense of blood, treasure, and labor, 1 with 
out which this continent must have still remained in a 
wilderness state and the property of savages only, it could 
not but strongly put in motion their passion of grief when 
they were laid under a parliamentary restraint as to the 
exercise of that liberty they esteemed their greatest glory. 
It was eminently this that filled their minds with jealousy, 
and at length a settled fear, lest they should gradually be 
brought into a state of the most abject slavery. This it was 
that gave rise to the cry, which became general throughout 
the colonies, " We shall be made to serve as bond-ser 
vants ; our lives will be bitter with hard bondage." Nor 
were the Jews more pleased with the royal provision in 
their day, which, under God, delivered them from their 
bondage in Egypt, than were the colonists with the repeal 
of that act which had so greatly alarmed their fears and 
troubled their hearts. It was to them as "life from the 
dead." They "rejoiced and were glad." And it gave 
strength and vigor to their joy, while they looked upon 
this repeal not merely as taking off the grievous restraint 
that had been laid upon their liberties and privileges, but 
as containing in it an intention of continued indulgence 2 

1 These various considerations were set forth at length in statements of 
the services and expenses of the colonies, which were sent to England to 
furnish the colonial agents with arguments why the colonies should not 
be taxed. ED. 

2 The colonists claimed the repeal as matter of right, and not of favor. 
The English merchants urged it as a commercial necessity, and the politi 
cians dared not do less. Hutchinson says : " The act which accompanied 
it, with the title of Securing the Dependency of the Colonies/ caused 
no alloy of the joy, and was considered as mere naked form." ED. 



130 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

in the free exercise of them. T is in this view of it that 
they exult as those who are " glad in heart," esteeming 
themselves happy beyond almost any people now living 
on the face of the earth. May they ever be this happy 
people, and ever have "God for their Lord"! 

This news is yet further welcome to us, as it lias made 
way for the return of our love, in all its genuine exercises, 
towards those on the other side of the Atlantic who, in 
common with ourselves, profess subjection to the same 
most gracious sovereign. The affectionate regard of the 
American inhabitants for their mother country 1 was neVer 
exceeded by any colonists in any part or age of the world. 
We esteemed ourselves parts of one whole, members of 
the same collective body. What affected the people 
of England, affected us. We partook of their joys and 
sorrows "rejoicing when they rejoiced, and weeping 
when they wept." Adverse things in the conduct of 
Providence towards them alarmed our fears and gave 
us pain, while prosperous events dilated our hearts, and 
in proportion to their number and greatness. This tender 
sympathy with our brethren at home, it is acknowledged, 
began to languish from the commencement of a late par 
liamentary act. There arose hereupon a general suspicion 
whether they esteemed us brethren and treated us with 
ihat kindness we might justly expect from them. This 
jealousy, working in our breasts, cooled the fervor of our 
love ; and had that act been continued in force, it might 
have gradually brought on an alienation of heart that 
would have been greatly detrimental to them, as it would 
also have been to ourselves. But the repeal, of which 
we have had authentic accounts, has opened the channels 



1 This sentiment was ever appealed to in all our difficulties. Burke and 
Pitt made frequent use of it. ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 131 

for a full flow of our former affection towards our brethren 
in Great Britain. Unhappy jealousies, uncomfortable sur- 
misings and heart-burnings, are now removed ; and we 
perceive the motion of an affection for the country from 
whence our forefathers came, which would influence us to 
the most vigorous exertions, as we might be called, to 
promote their welfare, looking upon it, in a sense, our 
own. We again feel with them and for them, and are 
happy or unhappy as they are either in prosperous or 
adverse circumstances. We can, and do, with all sincerity, 
"pray for the peace of Great Britain, and that they may 
prosper that love her;" adopting those words of the 
devout Psalmist, "Peace be within thy walls, and pros 
perity within thy palaces. For our brethren s sake we will 
say, peace be within thee." 

In fine, this news is refreshing to us " as cold waters to 
a thirsty soul," as it has effected an alteration in the state 
of things among us unspeakably to our advantage. There 
is no way in which we can so strikingly be made sensible 
of this as by contrasting the state we were lately in, and 
the much worse one we should soon have been in had the 
Stamp Act been enforced, with that happy one we are put 
into by its repeal. 

Upon its being made certain to the colonies that the 
Stamp Act had passed both Houses of Parliament, and 
received the. king s fiat, a general spirit of uneasiness at 
once took place, which, gradually increasing, soon discov 
ered itself, by the wiser sons of liberty, 1 in laudable en- 



i This name, "SONS OP LIBERTY," was used by Colonel Isaac Barre , 
in his ofF-hand reply to Charles Townshend, Wednesday, February 6, 1765, 
when George Grenville proposed the Stamp Act in Parliament. Jared 
Ingersoll heard Colonel Barre , and sent a sketch of his remarks to Gover 
nor Fitch, of Connecticut, Avho published it in the New London papers; 
and, says Bancroft, " May had not shed its blossoms before the words of 



132 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

deavors to obtain relief; though by others, in murmurings 
and complaints, in anger and clamor, in bitterness, wrath, 
and strife ; and by some evil-minded persons, taking occa 
sion herefor from the general ferment 1 of men s minds, in 
those A iolent outrages upon the property of others, which, 
by being represented, in an undue light, may have reflected 
dishonor upon a country which has an abhorrence of such 
injurious conduct. The colonies were never before in a 

Barre were as household words in every New England town. Midsum 
mer saw it distributed through Canada, in French; and the continent 
rung from end to end with the cheering name SONS OF LIBERTY." Mr. 
Ingersoll, in a note to his pamphlet (New Haven, 1766), p. 16, says: "JT 
believe I may claim the honor of having been the author of this title (Sons of 
Liberty), however little personal good I may have got by it, having been 
the only person, by what I can discover, who transmitted Mr. Barre s 
speech to America." 

Boston voted that pictures of Colonel Barre and General Conway " be 
placed in Faneuil Hall, as a standing monument to all posterity of the 
virtue and justice of our benefactors, and a lasting proof of our grati 
tude." But the pictures are not there; and Mr. Drake (History of Boston, 
p. 705) aptly suggests that the city " would lose none of its honor by re 
placing them." The town of Barre, in Massachusetts, perpetuates the 
memory of this statesman, and of the public indignation toward Hutchin- 
son, whose name it had borne from 1774 to 1777. Towns in Vermont, 
New York, and Wilkesbarre in Pennsylvania, also bear the honored name. 
ED. 

1 In August, 1765, when Lieut. Governor Hutchinson s house, Andrew 
Oliver s, William Storey s, and the stamp-office in Kilby Street, were ran 
sacked or demolished. A minute account of places and names, and de 
tails in these riots, fill several interesting pages in Drake s History of 
Boston, chap. Ixix.; Bancroft s United States, chap, xvi., 1765. 

President Adarns said, "None were indicted for pulling down the 
stamp-office, because this was thought an honorable and glorious action, 
not a riot." And in 1775 he said : " I will take upon me to say, there is 
not another province on this continent, nor in his Majesty s dominions, 
where the people, under the same indignities, would not have gone to 
greater lengths." 

" I pardon something to the spirit of liberty," said Burke. 

The Bishop of St. Asaph said : " I consider these violences as the natu 
ral effects of such measures as ours on the minds of freemen." ED. 



ON" THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 133 

state of such discontent, anxiety, and perplexing solici 
tude ; some despairing of a redress, some hoping for it, and 
all fearing what would be the event. And, had it been 
the determination of the King and Parliament to have car 
ried the Stamp Act into effect by ships of war and an 
embarkation of troops, their condition, however unhappy 
before, would have been inconceivably more so. They 
must either have submitted to what they thought an in 
supportable burden, and have parted with their property 
without any will of their own, or have stood upon their 
defence ; in either of which cases their situation must have 
been deplorably sad. So far as I arn able to judge from 
that firmness of mind and resolution of spirit which ap 
peared among all sorts of persons, as grounded upon this 
principle, deeply rooted in their minds, that they had a 
constitutional right a to grant their own moneys and to be 
tried by their peers, t is more than probable they would 
not have submitted 2 unless they had been obliged to it by 



a The colonists may reasonably be excused for their mistake (if it was one) in 
thinking that they were vested with this constitutional right, as it was the 
opinion of Lord Camden, declared in the House of Lords, and of Mr. Pitt, sig 
nified in the House of Commons, that the Stamp Act was unconstitutional. This 
is said upon the authority of the public prints. 1 

1 Lord Camden said: "The British Parliament have no right to tax the 

Americans Taxation and representation are coeval with and 

essential to this constitution." Mr. Pitt said: " The Commons of Amer 
ica, represented in their several assemblies, have ever been in possession 
of the exercise of this, their constitutional right, of giving and granting 
their own money. They would have been slaves if they had not enjoyed 
it." ED. 

2 An examination of the newspapers and legislative proceedings of the 
period admits of no doubt of this. From the passage of the Stamp Act till 
certain news of its repeal, April, 1766, the newspaper, " The Boston Post 
Boy," displayed for its heading, in large letters, these words : " The 
united voice of all His Majesty s free and loyal subjects in AMERICA, 
LIBERTY and PROPERTY, and no STAMPS." 

Dr. Gordon says the Stamp Act was treated with the most indignant 

12 



134 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

superior power. Not that they had a thought in their 
hearts, as may have been represented, of being an inde 
pendent people. 1 They esteemed it both their happiness 
and their glory to be, in common with the inhabitants of 



contempt, by being printed and cried about the streets under the title of 
The folly of ENGLAND and ruin of AMERICA. 

It was now May, 1765 that Patrick Henry, in bringing forward his 
resolutions against the act, exclaimed, " Caesar had his Brutus; Charles 
the First had his Cromwell; and George the Third ""Treason! " cried 
the Speaker; " Treason ! " cried many of the members " may profit by 
their example," was the conclusion of the sentence. "If this be trea 
son," said Henry, "make the most of it! " 

President John Adams, referring to this sermon in 1815, said : " It has 
been a question, whether, if the ministry had persevered in support of the 
Stamp Act, and sent a military force of ships and troops to force its exe 
cution, the people of the colonies would then have resisted. Dr. Chauncy 
and Dr. Mayhew, in sermons which they preached and printed after the 
repeal of the Stamp Act, have left to posterity their opinions upon this 
question. If my more extensive familiarity with the sentiments and feel 
ings of the people in the Eastern, Western, and Southern counties of Mas 
sachusetts may apologize for my presumption, I subscribe without a doubt 
to the opinions of Chauncy and Mayhew. What would have been the 
consequence of resistance in arms?" (See note to page 136.) Dr. Frank 
lin, before the House of Commons in 1766, said : " Suppose a military 
force sent into America, they will find nobody in arms; what are they 
then to do? They cannot force a man to take stamps who chooses to do 
without them. They will not find a rebellion, but they can make one. " 
ED. 

1 Not one of the English colonies, or provinces, would now submit for a 
moment to the control which the American colonies would then have cheer 
fully accepted. The royal governors are accepted as pageants on which to 
hang the local governments, which are essentially independent, but enjoy 
a nationality by this nominal connection with the crown; and it maybe 
doubted if any of them have that degree of loyalty which once animated 
the " rebellious " colonies of 1776. Happily time has destroyed the ani 
mosities engendered by a vicious policy, and there is now that nobler unity 
(for we be brethren) which is cultivated by commerce and the amenities of 
literature and science. In this view, the cordial reception, at this time, of 
England s royal representative in our chief cities, and by our National 
Executive, is an event of great interest. See p. 143 and note. ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 135 

England, Scotland, and Ireland, the subjects of King 
George the Third, whom they heartily love and honor, 
and in defence of whose person and crown they would 
cheerfully expend their treasure, and lose even their blood. 
But it was a sentiment they had imbibed, that they should 
be wanting neither in loyalty to their king, or a due re 
gard to the British Parliament, if they should defend those 
rights which they imagined were inalienable, upon the foot 
of justice, by any power on earth.* And had they, upon 
this principle, whether ill or well founded, stood upon 
their defence, what must have been the effect? There 
would have been opened on this American continent a 
most doleful scene of outrage, violence, desolation, slaugh 
ter, and, in a word, all those terrible evils that may be 
expected as the attendants on a state of civil war. ]STo 
language can describe the distresses, in all their various 
kinds and degrees, which would have made us miserable. 
God only knows how long they might have continued, 
and whether they would have ended in anything short of 
our total ruin. Nor would the mother country, whatever 



a The great Mr. IMtt would not have said, in a certain august assembly, speak 
ing of the Americans, " I rejoice that they have resisted," if, in liis judgment, 
they might not, in consistency with their duty to government, have made a 
stand against the Stamp Act. Tis certainly true there may be such exercise of 
power, and in instances of such a nature, as to render non-submission warrant 
able upon the foot of reason and righteousness; otherwise it will be difficult, if 
possible, to justify the Revolution, and that establishment in consequence of it 
upon which his present Majesty sits upon the British throne. That non-subrnis- 
sion would have been justifiable, had it been determined that the Stamp Act 
should be enforced, I presume not to say: though none, I believe, who are the 
friends of liberty, will deny that it would have been justifiable should it be first 
supposed that this act essentially broke in upon our constitutional rights as 
Englishmen. Whether it did or not, is a question it would be impertinent in me 
to meddle with. It is the truth of the fact that the colonists generally and really 
thought it did, and that it might be opposed without their incurring the guilt of 
disloyalty or rebellion ; and they were led into this way of thinking upon what 
they imagined were the principles which, in their operation, gave King William 
and Queen Mary, of blessed memory, the crown of England. 1 

1 See Dr. Mayhew s Sermon of 1750, p. 39. ED. 



136 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

some might imagine, have been untouched with what was 
doing in the colonies. Those millions that were due from 
this continent to Great Britain could not have been paid ; 
a stop, a total stop, would have been put to the importa 
tion of those manufactures which are the support of thou 
sands at home, often repeated. And would the British 
merchants and manufacturers have sat easy in such a state 
of things? There would, it may be, hare been as much 
clamor, wrath, and strife in the very bowels of the nation 
as in these distant lands; nor could our destruction have 
been unconnected with consequences at home infinitely to 
be dreaded. 1 

But the longed-for repeal has scattered our fears, re 
moved our difficulties, enlivened our hearts, and laid the 
foundation for future prosperity, equal to the adverse state 
we should have been in had the act been continued and 
enforced. 

1 Dr. Chauncy s speculations upon the probable consequences of the 
enforcement of the Stamp Act,both in the colonies and " at home," as the 
colonists affectionately called England, the mother country, are singularly 
coincident with Edmund Burke s" Observations" published three years 
later, 17C9 on Grenville s " Present State of the Nation." He said : " We 
might, I think, without much difficulty, have destroyed our colonies; . . 
. . but four millions of debt due to our merchants, the total cessation of 
a trade worth four millions more, a large foreign traffic, much home manu 
facture, a very capital immediate revenue arising from colony imports, 
indeed the produce of every one of our revenues greatly depending on this 
trade, all these were very weighty, accumulated considerations; at least 
well to be weighed before that sword was drawn which, even by its victo 
ries, must produce all the evil effects of the greatest national defeat." 
Really it was a question of life or death, not only to the colonies, but to the 
commerce of England, whose dealings with European nations had in 
creased very little since 1700, which had risen from colony intercourse; 
" a new world of commerce, in a manner created," says Burke, " grown up 
to this magnitude and importance within the memory of man; nothing in 
history is parallel to it." The repeal of the Stamp Act was a commercial 
necessity; to enforce it would have been like killing the goose that laid 
the golden egg. ED. 



ON THE EEPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 137 

We may now be easy in our minds contented with 
our condition. We may be at peace and quiet among 
ourselves, every one minding his own business. All 
ground of complaint that we are "sold for bond-men and 
bond-women" is removed away, and, instead of being 
slaves to those who treat us with rigor, we are indulged 
the full exercise of those liberties which have been trans 
mitted to us as the richest inheritance from our forefathers. 
We have now greater reason than ever to love, honor, 
and obey our gracious king, and pay all becoming rever 
ence and respect to his two Houses of Parliament ; and 
may with entire confidence rely on their wisdom, lenity, 
kindness, and power to promote our welfare. We have 
now, in a word, nothing to " make us afraid," but may " sit 
every man under his vine and under his fig-tree," in the 
full enjoyment of the many good tilings we are favored 
with in the providence of God. 

Upon such a change in the state of our circumstan 
ces, we should be lost to all sense of duty and gratitude, 
and act as though we had no understanding, if our hearts 
did not expand with joy. And, in truth, the danger is lest 
we should exceed in the expressions of it. It may be said 
of these colonies, as of the Jewish people upon the repeal 
of the decree of Ahasuerus, which devoted them to destruc 
tion, they " had light and gladness, joy and honor; and 
in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the 
king s commandment and his decree came, they had joy 
and gladness, a feast day, and a good day ; " saying within 
themselves, "the Lord hath done great things for us, 
whereof we are glad." May the remembrance of this 
memorable repeal be preserved and handed down to future 
generations, in every province, in every city, and in every 
family, so as never to be forgotten. 

We now proceed the way being thus prepared for it 
12* 



138 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

to point out the proper use we should make of this 
"good news from a far country," which is grateful to us 
" as cold waters to a thirsty soul." 

We have already had our rejoicings, in the civil sense, 
upon the "glad tidings" from our mother country; and 
tis to our honor that they were carried on so universally 
within the bounds of a decent, warrantable regularity. 
There was never, among us, such a collection of all sorts 
of people upon any public occasion. Nor were the meth 
ods in which they signified their joy ever so beautifully 
varied and multiplied ; and yet, none had reason to com 
plain of disorderly conduct. The show was seasonably 
ended, and we had afterwards a perfectly quiet night. 1 
There has indeed been no public disturbance since the 
outrage at Lieut. Governor Hutchinson s house. That 
was so detested by town and country, and such a spirit at 
once so generally stirred up, particularly among the peo 
ple, to oppose such villanous conduct, as has preserved us 
ever since in a state of as great freedom from mobbish 
actions as has been known in the country. Our friends at 
home, it should seem, have entertained fears lest upon the 
lenity and condescension of the King and Parliament we 

1 The repeal was celebrated throughout the colonies by all possible 
expressions of joy, by ringing of bells, firing of guns, processions, bon 
fires, illuminations, thanksgivings. Prisoners for debt were released; Pitt, 
Camden, and Barre were eulogized; and in Boston "Liberty Tree itself 

was decorated with lanterns till its boughs could hold no more 

Never was there a more rapid transition of a people from gloom to joy." 

BANCROFT. The Sons of Liberty triumphed. 

" It has at once," said Mayhew, in his Thanksgiving Sermon, May 23, 
" in a good measure restored things to order, and composed our minds. 
Commerce lifts up her head, adorned with golden tresses, pearls, and 
precious stones; almost every person you meet wears the smile of con 
tentment and joy; and even our slaves rejoice, as though they had 
received their manumission." See Drake s History of Boston, ch. Ixxi., 
for an account of the celebration in Boston. ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 139 

should prove ourselves a factious, turbulent people ; and 
our enemies hope we shall. But t is not easy to conceive 
on what the fears of the one or the hopes of the other 
should be grounded, unless they have received injurious 
representations of the spirit that lately prevailed in this as 
well as the other colonies, which was not a spirit to raise 
needless disturbances, or to commit outrages upon the 
persons or property of any, though some of those sons of 
wickedness which are to be found in all places a might take 
occasion, from the stand that was made for liberty, to com 
mit violence with a high hand. There has not been, since 
the repeal, the appearance of a spirit tending to public 
disorder, nor is there any danger such a spirit should be 
encouraged or discovered, unless the people should be 
needlessly and unreasonably irritated by those who, to 
serve themselves, might be willing we should gratify such 
as are our enemies, and make those so who have been our 
good friends. But, to leave this digression : 



a It has been said, and in the public prints, that there have been mobbish, riot 
ous doings in London, and other parts of England, at one time and another, and 
that great men at such times men far superior to any among us in dignity and 
power suffered in their persons by insulting, threatening words and actions, 
and in their property by the injurious violence that destroyed their substance. 
Would it be just to characterize London, much more England itself, from the 
conduct of these disturbers of its peace? It would as reasonably, as certainly, 
be esteemed a vile reproach, should they on this account be represented as, in 
general, a turbulent, seditious people, disposed to throw off their subjection 
to government, and bring things into a state of anarchy and confusion. If this 
has been the representation that has been made of the colonists, on account of 
what any may have suffered in their persons or effects by the ungoverned, dis 
orderly behavior of some mobbishly disposed persons, it is really nothing better 
than a base slander, and no more applicable to them than to the people of Eng 
land. The colonists in general, the inhabitants of this province in particular, 
are as great enemies to all irregular, turbulent proceedings, and as good friends 
to government, and as peaceable, loyal subjects, as any that call King George the 
Third their rightful and lawful sovereign.l 

1 The sacking of Lord Mansfield s house, the destruction of his library 
and manuscripts in 1780, and of Dr. Priestley s mansion, books, manu 
scripts, and philosophical apparatus, in 1791, greatly exceeded the outrages 
in Boston. ED. 



140 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

Though our civil joy has been expressed in a decent, 
orderly way, it would be but a poor, pitiful thing should 
we rest here, and not make our religious, grateful acknowl 
edgments to the Supreme Ruler 1 of the world, to whose 
superintending providence it is principally to be ascribed 
that we have had "given us so great deliverance." What 
ever were the means or instruments in order to this, that 
glorious Being, whose throne is in the heavens, and whose 
kingdom ruleth over all, had the chief hand herein. He 

1 If there be in our early historical literature any one feature more 
strongly marked than the rest, it is this universal recognition of God in 
all our affairs; and Washington was not more true to himself than to the 
spirit of his country, which, of all men, he best understood, when, in his 
inaugural address as President of the United States, April 30, 1789, he 
said : 

" It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my 
fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, 
who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids 
can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to 
the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a govern 
ment instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may 
enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with 
success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage 
to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself 
that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my 
fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to 
acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of 
man more than the people of the United States. Every step by which 
they have been advanced to the character of an independent nation seems 
to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in 
the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united 
government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many 
distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be com 
pared with the means by which most governments have been established, 
without some return of pious gratitude, along with a humble anticipation 
of the blessings which the past seems to presage. These reflections, 
arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on 
my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking 
that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a 
new and free government can more auspiciously commence." ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 141 

sat at the helm, and so governed all things relative to it 
as to bring it to this happy issue. It was under his all- 
wise, overruling influence that a spirit was raised in all the 
colonies nobly to assert their freedom as men and English- 
born subjects a spirit which, in the course of its operation, 
was highly serviceable, not by any irregularities it might 
be the occasion of (in this imperfect state they will, more 
or less, mix themselves with everything great and good), 
but by its manly efforts, setting forth the reasons they 
had for complaint in a fair, just, and strongly convincing 
light, hereby awakening the attention of Great Britain, 
opening the eyes of the merchants and manufacturers 
there, and engaging them, for their own interest as well 
as that of America, to exert themselves in all reasonable 
ways to help us. It was under the same all-governing 
influence that the late ministry, full of projections 1 tending 
to the hurt of these colonies, was so seasonably changed 
into the present patriotic one, 2 which is happily disposed, 
in all the methods of wisdom, to promote our welfare. It 
was under the same influence still that so many friends 
of eminent character were raised up and spirited to appeal- 
advocates on our behalf, and plead our cause with irresist 
ible force. It was under this same influence, also, that 
the heart of our king and the British Parliament were 
so turned in favor to us as to reverse that decree which, 
had it been established, would have thrown this whole 
continent, if not the nation itself, into a state of the 
utmost confusion. In short, it was ultimately owing to 

1 Ecclesiastical and civil. ED. 

2 "The Rockino-ham Administration" (July 10, 1705 July 30, 1766), 
in October, had had " letters from all parts of America that a conflagra 
tion blazed out at once in North America a universal disobedience and 
open resistance to the Stamp Act;" and because it "raised a flame in 
America," says Burke, " for reasons political, not commercial," it was 
repealed. Thus the Grenville policy was abandoned for the time. ED. 



142 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

tins influence of the God of Heaven that the thoughts, the 
views, the purposes, the speeches, the writings, and the 
whole conduct of all who were engaged in this great 
affair were so overruled to bring into effect the desired 
happy event. 1 

And shall we not make all due acknowledgments to 
the great Sovereign of the world on this joyful occasion? 
Let us, my brethren, take care that our hearts be suitably 
touched with a sense of the bonds we are under to the 
Lord of the universe ; and let us express the joy and grat 
itude of our hearts by greatly praising him for the great 
ness of his goodness in thus scattering our fears, removing 
away our burdens, and continuing us in the enjoyment of 
our most highly valued liberties and privileges. And let 
us not only praise him with our lips, rendering thanks to 
his holy name, but let us honor him by a well-ordered 
conversation. " Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice ; " 
and "to love the Lord our God with all pur heart, and 
mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves," 



1 " I remember, sir/ said Mr. Burke, in 1774, " with a melancholy 
pleasure, the situation of the honorable gentleman" General Conway 
"who made the motion for the repeal; in that crisis, when the whole 
trading interest of this empire, crammed into your lobbies, with a trem 
bling and anxious expectation, waited almost to a winter s return of 
light their fate from your resolution. When, at length, you had deter 
mined in their favor, and your doors, thrown open, showed them the 
figure of their deliverer in the well-earned triumphs of his important 
victory, from the whole of that grave multitude there arose an involuntary 
burst of gratitude and transport. They jumped upon him, like children 
on a long-absent father. They clung about him, as captives about their 

redeemer. AIT England, all America joined to his applause 

I stood near him ; and his face to use the expression of the Scriptures 
of the first martyr his face was as if it had been the face of an angel. 
I do not know how others feel; but if I had stood in that situation, I 
never would have exchanged it for all that kings, in their profusion, 
could bestow." ED. 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 143 

is better than whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices." Ac 
tions speak much louder than words. In vain shall we 
pretend that we are joyful in God, or thankful to him, if it 
is not our endeavor, as we have been taught by the grace 
of God, which has appeared to us by Jesus Christ, to 
" deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live so 
berly, righteously, and godly in the world ; " doing all 
things whatsoever it has pleased God to command us. 

And as he has particularly enjoined it on us to be 
"subject to the higher powers, ordained by him to be his 
ministers for good," we cannot, upon this occasion, more 
properly express our gratitude to him than by approving 
ourselves dutiful and loyal to the gracious king w hern* he has 
placed over us. Not that we can be justly taxed with the 
want of love or subjection to the British throne. We may 
have been abused by false and injurious representations 
upon this head ; but King George the Third has no sub 
jects not within the realm of England itself that are 
more strongly attached to his person and family, that bear 
a more sincere and ardent affection towards him, or that 
would exert themselves with more life and spirit in de 
fence of his crown and dignity. But it may, notwithstand 
ing, at this time, 1 be seasonable to stir up your minds by 



1 In his examination before the House of Commons, in 1766, Dr. Frank 
lin answered to the question, " What was the temper of America towards 
Great Britain before the year 1703 ? " " The best in the world. They sub 
mitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in all their 
courts, obedience to acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in 
the several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garri 
sons, or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this 
country at the expense of only a little pen, ink, and paper. They were 
led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection for Great 
Britain, for its laws, its customs, and manners, and even a fondness 
for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Britain 
were always treated with particular regard; to be an Old England m&u 



144 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 

putting you in remembrance of your duty to " pray for 
kings, and all that are in subordinate authority under 
them," and to " honor and obey them in the Lord." And 
if we should take occasion, from the great lenity and con 
descending goodness of those who are supreme in author 
ity over us, not to " despise government," not to " speak 
evil of dignities," not to go into any method of unseemly, 
disorderly conduct, but to " lead quiet and peaceable lives 
in all godliness and honesty," every man moving in his 
own proper sphere, and taking due care to "render unto 
Caesar the things that are Cassar s, and to God the things 
that are God s," we should honor ourselves, answer the 
expectations of those who have dealt thus favorably with 
us, and, what is more, we should express a becoming regard 
to the governing pleasure of Almighty God. 

It would also be a suitable return of gratitude to God 
if we entertained in our mindsj and were ready to express 
in all proper ways, a just sense of the obligations we are 
under to those patrons of liberty and righteousness who 
were the instruments employed by him, and whose wise 
and powerful endeavors, under his blessing, were effectual 
to promote at once the interest of the nation at home, and 
of these distant colonies. Their names will, I hope, be ever 
dear to us, and handed down as such to the latest poster 
ity. That illustrious name in special, PiTT, 1 will, I trust, 

was of itself a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank 
among us." 

Q. "And what is their temper now? " 
A. " O, very much altered." See note 1, p. 134. ED. 
1 No name was more venerated in America than that of William Pitt. He 
was born in London, in 1708, grandson of Thomas Pitt, Governor of Ma 
dras, and made his first speech in Parliament in 1736. In December, 1756, 
when " our armies were beaten, our navy inactive, our trade exposed to 
the enemy, our credit as if we expected to become bankrupts sunk to 
the lowest pitch, so that there was nothing to be found but despondency at 



ON THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. 145 

be never mentioned but with honor, as the saviour, under 
God, and the two kings who made him their prime minis 
ter, both of the nation and these colonies, not only from 
the power of France, but from that which is much worse, 
a state of slavery, under the appellation of Englishmen. 
May his memory be blessed ! May his great services for 
his king, the nation, and these colonies, be had in everlast 
ing: remembrance ! 



home and contempt abroad " (Address of City of London), the great Whig 
statesman graciously accepted the seals of government, and his adminis 
tration was the most glorious period of English history since the days 
of the Commonwealth and of the Revolution of 1088. America rejoiced, 
and her blood and her treasure flowed freely. She saw the French navy 
annihilated, and the British flag wave at Louisburg, Niagara, Ticon- 
deroga, Crown Point, Quebec, and all Canada. " Mr. Pitt left the thirteen 
British colonies in North America in perfect security and happiness, every 
inhabitant there glowing with the warmest affection to the parent country. 
At home all was animation and industry. Riches and glory flowed in 
from every quarter." Almon. George II. died, in extreme age, October 
25, 1700; succeeded by his grandson, George III., with not a drop of Eng 
lish blood in his veins; a very Stuart in principle. He was a youth of 
twenty-two years, and the crown was placed on his head by the primate 
Seeker, who aspired to be his counsellor as well as his spiritual director. 
Seeker was the very one who suffered at the hands of Dr. Mayhew in the 
controversy about the society for propagating the hierarchy " in foreign 
parts;" "and," said the pious Dean Swift, "whoever has a true value 
for church and state, should avoid " Whigism. Pitt resigned the seals of 
Secretary of State on the 5th of October, 1701. He opposed with his 
might the proceedings against America. The peculiarly impressive cir 
cumstances of his death, May llth, 1778, hastened, if not caused, by his 
zeal and energy in our behalf, are familiar to all by the celebrated picture 
of the "Death of Chatham," the piece which established the fame of 
the eminent Bostonian, Copley, whose son, Lord Lyndhurst, yet lives, 
one of the most venerable and eloquent members of the House of Peers. 
Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, Pittsfield in Massachusetts, and many other 
towns, perpetuate the memory of the national gratitude, which was ex 
pressed by legislative addresses, by monuments, and by every mode of 
public and private regard. He died poor " stained by no vice, sullied by 
no meanness." ED. 

13 



146 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

To conclude : Let us be ambitious to make it evident, 
by the manner of our conduct, that we are good subjects 
and good Christians. So shall we in the best way express 
the grateful sense we have of our obligations to that glo 
rious Being, to the wisdom and goodness of whose presi 
dency over all human affairs it is principally owing that 
the great object of our fear and anxious concern has been 
so happily removed. And may it ever be our care to 
behave towards him so as that he may appear on our be 
half in every time of danger and difficulty, guard us 
against evil, and continue to us all our enjoyments, both 
civil and religious. And may they be transmitted from us 
to our children, and to children s children, as long as the 
sun and the moon shall endure. AMEN. 



A 

SERMON 

PREACHED AT CAMBRIDGE, 

IN THE 

AUDIENCE OF HIS HONOR 

THOMAS HUTCHINSON, ESCL; 

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF; 

THE HONORABLE 
His MAJESTY S COUNCIL, 

AND THE HONORABLE 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 

OF THE PROVINCE OF THE 

Maflachufetts-Bay in New-England, 

MAY 30th, 1770. 

BEING THE ANNIVERSARY FOR THE ELECTION OF His 
MAJESTY S COUNCIL FOR THE SAID PROVINCE. 

BY SAMUEL COOKE, A. M. 

Paftor of the Second Church in CAMBRIDGE. 

BOSTON: 

PRINTED BY EDES AND GILL, PRINTERS TO THE 
HONORABLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 



MDCCLXX. 



IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, May 30, 1770. 

Resolved, That Mr. Gardner of Cambridge, Mr. Remington, and Mr. Gardner 
of Stow, be a Committee to return the thanks of this House to the Rev. Mr. 
Samuel Cooke for his Sermon preached yesterday before the General Court, 
being the day of the election of Councillors; and to desire of him a copy thereof 
for the press. 

Attest, 

SAMUEL ADAMS, Clerk. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

A GLANCE AT THE CURRENT OF EVENTS FROM THE DATE OF DR. 
CHAUNCY S SERMON TO THAT OF MR. COOKE, 1770. 



THE happiness of America, on the repeal of the Stamp Act, was as 
transient as the existence of the ministry which effected it; and the out 
burst of joy, of which Dr. Chauncy s sermon was but a single note, by 
the contrast, presents in deeper gloom the succeeding woe. Excessive 
jealousy of ministerial control a desire of personal " influence" was 
a source of misery to George III., and of calamity to the nation. He set 
tled questions of state on personal, not on national grounds. Thus, in 
the midst of the American war, he declared respecting Mr. Pitt, whose 
administration had been the glory of the reign of his grandfather, George 
II., "No advantage to my country, nor personal danger to myself, can make 
me address myself to Lord Chatham, or to any other branch of opposi 
tion. Honestly, I would rather lose the crown I now wear than bear the 
ignominy of possessing it under their shackles." His letters to Lord 
North show that the war was his war; and he said to Mr. Adams, on his 
presentation as first minister plenipotentiary from the United States, " I 
have done nothing in the late contest but what I thought myself bound 
to do." 

He never could forget his mother s early precept: " George, be king! " 
and so capricious was he, that " the question at last was," said Burke, 
" not who could do the public business best, but who would undertake to 
do it at all." During the first nine years of his reign there were six succes 
sive administrations. The Rockingham Administration, which repealed 
the Stamp Act, March 18th, 1766, lasted only one year and twenty days. 
When Chatham, the great friend of America, consented to form a new 
ministry, he had to frame it of such discordant materials, that during his 
absence, by reason of ill health, " as if it were to insult him," says Mr. 
Knight, " as well as to betray him, and even long before the close of the 

13* 



150 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

first session of his administration, when everything was publicly trans 
acted, and with great parade, in his name, they made an act declaring it 
highly just and expedient to raise a revenue in America." " He made an 
administration so checkered and speckled; he put together a piece of 
joinery so crossly indented and whimsically dovetailed; a cabinet so vari 
ously inlaid; such a piece of diversified mosaic; such a tessellated pave 
ment without cement, here a bit of black stone, and there a bit of white ; 
patriots and courtiers, king s friends and republicans, Whigs and Tories, 
treacherous friends and open enemies, that it was indeed a very curious 
show, but utterly unsafe to touch, and unsure to stand on. . . . When 
his face was hid but for a moment, his whole system was on a wide sea, 
without chart or compass/ 1 

The Act of June 29th, 17G7, imposing duties to be paid by the colonists 
on paper, glass, painters colors, and teas, and authorizing the appoint 
ment of an indefinite number of irresponsible officers, with unlimited 
salaries, to be paid by the colonies, again put America in an uproar. 
During the period to March, 1770, every proceeding of the British govern 
ment, in Council or in Parliament, served only to exasperate the Amer 
icans, and to strengthen them in a common bond of resistance. On the 
llth of February, 1708, the House of Representatives of Massachusetts 
issued a circular letter to the speakers of the legislative assemblies of the 
other colonies, in which they expressed " a disposition freely to commu 
nicate their mind to sister colonies, upon a common concern, in the same 
manner as they would be glad to receive the sentiments of any other 
House of Assembly on the continent." They say in the letter that " the 
House have humbly represented to the ministry their own sentiments ; 
. . . that it is an essential, unalterable right in nature, engrafted into 
the British constitution as a fundamental law, and ever held sacred and 
irrevocable by the subjects within the realm, that what a man has hon 
estly acquired is absolutely his own, which he may freely give, but cannot 
be taken from him without his consent; that the American subjects may, 
therefore, exclusive of any consideration of charter rights, with a decent 
firmness adapted to the character of free men and subjects, assert this 
natural and constitutional right. It is, moreover, their humble opinion, 
which they express with the greatest deference to the wisdom of the Par 
liament, that the acts made there, imposing duties on the people of this 
province with the sole and express purpose of raising a revenue, are 
infringements of their natural and constitutional rights; because, as they 

1 Burke. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 151 

are not represented in the British Parliament, his Majesty s Commons in 
Britain, by those acts, grant their property without their consent. . . . 

" They have also submitted to consideration, whether any people can be 
said to enjoy any decree of freedom, if the crown, in addition to its un 
doubted authority of constituting a governor, should appoint him such a 
stipend as it may judge proper, without the consent of the people, and at 
their expense; and whether, while the judges of the land, and other civil 
officers, hold not their commissions during good behavior, their having 
salaries appointed for them by the crown, independent of the people, 
hath not a tendency to subvert the principles of equity, and endanger the 
happiness and security of the subject. 

" They take notice of the hardships of the act for preventing mutiny 
and desertion," passed at the same session with the repealed Stamp Act, 
" which i-equires the Governor and Council to provide for the king s 
marching troops, and the people to pay the expenses ; and also the com 
mission of the gentlemen appointed commissioners of the customs, to 
reside in America, which authorizes them to make as many appointments 
as they think fit, and to pay the appointees what sum they please, for 
whose mal-conduct they are not accountable; from whence it may hap 
pen that officers of the crown may be multiplied to such a degree as to 
become dangerous to the liberty of the people." l 

Lord Hillsborough thought this circular " unfair," and, on the 22d of 
April, wrote to Governor Bernard " to require the House of Representa 
tives in his Majesty s name to rescind . . . that rash and hasty 
proceeding." In June, Governor Bernard delivered this message, and the 
House absolutely declined the proposal; for " we should stand self-con 
demned as unworthy the name of British subjects, descended from British 
ancestors, intimately allied and connected in interest and inclination with 
our fellow-subjects, the Commons of Great Britain. . . . We take it 
to be the native, inherent, and indefeasible right of the subject, jointly or 
severally, to petition the king for the redress of grievances ; . . . and 
if the votes of the House are to be controlled by the direction of a minis 
ter, we have left us but a vain resemblance of liberty. We have now only 



1 Mr. Knight, " Popular History of England," vol. vi. 310, quotes an author 
ity, that "In 1758 America had been called the hospital of England; the 
places in the gift of the crown being filled with broken members of Parliament, 
of bad, if any, principles; valets de chambre, electioneering scoundrels, and 
even livery servants. " 



152 



to inform you that this House has voted not to rescind, and that on a 
division on the question there were ninety-two nays and seventeen yeas; " 
and we shall petition the king to remove Mr. Bernard from the govern 
ment of this province. The governor dissolved the Legislature the next 
day, according to the royal instructions. Several other colonial assem 
blies were dissolved for the same reason. 

Four thousand British troops were sent to Boston this year 1768 to 
aid in the collection of the duties ; but the custom-house officers fled to the 
castle for safety, and the collector s boat was dragged through the town 
and burnt on the common. Now were breathed into life resolves, peti 
tions, protests, state-papers, political treatises, that, for vigor of thought 
and strength and elegance of expression, for profound inquiry into 
governmental principles and learning, accurate and cogent reasoning, 
and the noblest love of liberty, must forever remain unsurpassed, and 
which drove the British government to the last, if not the only argument 
of despotism force. These among the richest legacies ever left by 
"Sons of Liberty" to their children demonstrate the intensity of the 
struggle, their high and holy principles, the fervor of soul, the indomitable 
will, with which, consecrated by an unceasing recognition of GOD over 
all, the great stake, LIBERTY, was won. It is only by a diligent and 
sympathizing study of these writings, and of the lineage and lives of 
their great authors, that the spirit of the Revolution can be understood. 

As the Legislature was dissolved, a " convention " was held, at Boston, 
September 22d, where the public will expressed itself, without the legal 
forms of authority, but decisively. Non-importation agreements were 
entered into, and a commercial policy of " masterly inactivity" prevailed, 
very annoying to the " friends of government," and not comforting to 
the "swarms" of hungry vampires of the customs. This "insolence" 
disturbed Parliament, and Governor Bernard was directed to transmit 
to England the names of the principal offenders, who were to be dragged 
thither for trial. 

On election-day, May 31, 1769, the House sent a message to the gov 
ernor, "that an armament by sea and land, investing this metropolis, 
and a military guard, with cannon pointed at the very door of the State 
House," yet standing at the head of State Street, " where this 
Assembly is held, is inconsistent with that dignity, as well as that 
freedom, with which we have a right to deliberate, consult, and deter 
mine," and " we have a right to expect that your Excellency will, as his 
Majesty s representative, give the necessary and effectual orders for the 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 153 

removal of the above-mentioned forces by sea and land out of this port 
and the gates of this city, during the session of said Assembly." The 
governor s answer was: "I have no authority over his Majesty s ships 
in this port, or his troops in this town; nor can I give any orders for 
the removal of the same." 

On the 15th of July, in answer to two petulant messages from Governor 
Bernard, whether they would provide, according to act of Parliament, 
for the king s troops, the House " evinced to the whole world and to 
all posterity" their idea "of the indefatigable pains of his Excellency, 
and a few interested persons, to procure and keep up a standing force 
here, by sea and land, in a time of profound peace, under the mere 
pretence of the necessity of such a force to aid the civil authority. . . . 
The whole continent has, for some years past, been distressed with 
what are called acts for imposing taxes on the colonists, for the express 
purpose of raising a revenue; and that without their consent, in person 

or by representative In strictness, all those acts may be rather 

called acts for raising a tribute in America, for the further purposes of 
dissipation among placemen and pensioners. . . . But of all the new 
regulations, the Stamp Act not excepted, this under consideration is 
the most excessively unreasonable. For, in effect, the yet free repre 
sentatives of the free assemblies of North America are called upon 
to repay, of their own and their constituents money, such sum or sums 
as persons, over whom they can have no check or control, may be 
pleased to expend! . . . therefore, . ... we shall never make 
provision for the purposes in your several messages above mentioned." 

Governor Bernard was rewarded, March 20th, by a royal bauble, a 
baronetcy, and, having prorogued the General Court, July 15th, to 
January 10th, at Boston, he sailed, August 1st, for England, leaving the 
government in the hands of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, AV!IO was 
no less obsequious to the crown, and faithless and ungrateful to his native 
land. 

The unanimity of the colonies gained strength; for the cause of one was 
the cause of all. On the fifth of March, 1770, there was a collision of the 
soldiers and citizens, " the horrid massacre," the anniversary of which 
was made very serviceable to the patriot cause. Hutchinson, alarmed by 
the intense public excitement, convened the Council; 1 at the same time 

1 The elder Adams, in his account of this scene, has left to us a picture of the 
Council Chamber, which remained as it was when Otis there argued against the 



154 



the people thronged to Faneuil Hall, and, through a committee, declared 
to the Governor and Council that " nothing can rationally be expected 
to restore the peace of the town, and prevent blood and carnage, but the 
immediate removal of the troops." Governor Hutchinson said : " Nothing 
shall ever induce me to order the troops out of town;" but Mr. Secretary 
Oliver whispered: "You must either comply or determine to leave the 
province." This would have been an end to " his Honor s" advancement. 
The troops were removed to the castle. 

In compliance with the mandate of the minister, Governor Hutchinson 
further prorogued the General Court, to meet at Cambridge, March 15th, 
instead of at its ancient seat at Boston. They remonstrated, and Hutch 
inson answered : " I must consider myself, as a servant of the king, to be 
governed" solely " by what appears to be his Majesty s pleasure." 
Many messages and speeches were exchanged; and on May 30th the 
House, before electing the Council, entered on its journal a protest against 
its session at Cambridge being drawn into precedent. 

Boston, in the instructions to her representatives in this court, de 
nounces the doctrines of the ministry as " political solecisms, which may 
take root and spring up under the meridian of modern Rome; but we 
trust in GOD they will not flourish in the soil and climate of British 

America . We, therefore, enjoin you, at all hazards, to 

deport yourselves (as we rely your own hearts will stimulate) like, the 
faithful representatives of a free-born, awakened, and determined people, 
who, being impregnated with the spirit of liberty in conception, and 
nurtured in principles of freedom from their infancy, are resolved to 
breathe the same celestial ether till summoned to resign the heavenly 
flame by that omnipotent God who gave it." 



writs of assistance: "The same glorious portraits of King Charles the Second 
and King James the Second, to which might be added little, miserable likenesses 
of Governor Winthrop, Governor Bradstreet, Governor Endecott, and Gover 
nor Belcher, hung up in obscure corners of the room." The latter are now in 
the Senate Chamber. "Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, Commander-in-chief 
in the absence of the governor, is at the head of the council table. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Dalrymple, Commander-in-chief of his Majesty s military forces, taking 
rank of all his Majesty s counsellors, must be seated by the side of the Lieutenant- 
Governor and Commander-in-chief of the province. Eight and twenty counsel 
lors must be painted, all seated at the council board. Let me see! what cos 
tume? What was the fashion of that day? Large white wigs, English scarlet 
cloth cloaks; some of them with gold-laced hats, not on their heads indeed, in. 
so august a presence, but on a table before them." See pp. 113-14. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 155 

Such were some of the leading events after Dr. Chauncy s sermon in 
1766, and such the condition and spirit of the times when Dr. Cook 
preached the " Election Sermon" of 1770, a discourse that must have 
" come home to men s business and bosoms." 

The preacher, a graduate of Harvard College in the class of 1735, then 
in the sixty-second year of his age, was " a man of science, of a social 
disposition, distinguished by his good sense and prudence, and a faithful 
servant of the Lord Jesus." 1 He died June 4, 1783, aged 74. 

The spirit and formula of legislative action on " election-day," in the 
revolutionary period, appear in the following contemporary account : 

" BOSTON, May 31, 1770. Wednesday being the Anniversary of the 
Day appointed by the Royal Charter for the Election of Councillors for 
this Province, the Great and General Court or Assembly met at Harvard 
College, in Cambridge, at Nine o clock in the Morning; when the usual 
Oaths were administered to the Gentlemen, who were returned to serve as 
Members of the Honorable House of Representatives, who also subscribed 
to the Declaration: The House then made Choice of Mr. SAMUEL 
ADAMS for their Clerk ; after which they chose the Hon. THOMAS 
GUSHING, Esq., their Speaker. 

"About Ten o clock His Honor the Lieutcnant-Governor, being escorted 
by the Troop of Guards from his Seat at Milton, arrived at Harvard 
College, and being in the Chair, a Committee of the House presented the 
Speaker elect to His Honor, who afterwards sent a Message in Writing, 
agreeable to the Royal Explanatory Charter, that he approved of their 
Choice. The House then chose a Committee to remonstrate to His Honor 
the Calling of the Assembly at that Place. 

" At Eleven o clock His Honor the Lieutenant-Govcrnor, accompanied by 
the Honorable His Majesty s Council, the Honorable House of Represen 
tatives, and a Number of other Gentlemen, preceded by the first Company 
in Cambridge of the Regiment of Militia, commanded by the Honorable 
Brigadier Brattle, went in Procession to the Meeting-House, where a 
Sermon suitable to the Occasion was preached by the Rcv d Mr. SAMUEL 
COOKE, of Cambridge, from these words: 2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4. The God 
of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over man must 
be just, ruling in the fear of God, etc. After Divine Service the Procession 
returned to Harvard-Hall, where an Entertainment was provided. 

" Previous to the choice of Councillors, in the afternoon, Letters 

i Allen. 



156 



were read from the Hon. BENJAMIN LINCOLN, Esq.; the Hon. JOHN 
HILL, Esq.; the Hon. GAMALIEL BRADFORD, Esq.; resigning their Seats 
at the Council Board, on account of their Age and Bodily Indisposition. 

"The following gentlemen were elected Councillors for the ensuing 
year, viz. : 

For the late Colony of MASSACHUSETTS BAT. 

The HONORABLE 

SAMUEL DANFORTH, Esq.; JAMES PITTS, Esq.; 

ISAAC ROYALL, Esq. ; SAMUEL DEXTER, Esq. ; 

JOHN ERVING, Esq.; t JOSEPH GERRISH, Esq.; 

t WILLIAM BRATTLE, Esq.; t THOMAS SANDERS, Esq.; 

t JAMES BOWDOIN, Esq.; t JOHN HANCOCK, Esq.; 

THOMAS HUBBARD, Esq.; t ARTEMAS WARD, Esq.; 

HARRISON GRAY, Esq.; t BENJA. GREENLEAF, Esq.; 

JAMES RUSSELL, Esq. ; t JOSHUA HENSHAW, Esq. ; 

ROYALL TYLER, Esq.; t STEPHEN HALL, Esq. 

For the late Colony of PLYMOUTH. 

t JAMES OTIS, Esq.; t JERATHMEEL BOWERS, Esq.; 

WILLIAM SEVER, Esq.; t WALTER SPOONER, Esq. 

For the late Province of MAINE. 

NATHANIEL SPARHAWK, Esq.; JEREMIAH POWELL, Esq.; 

JOHN BRADBURY, Esq. 

For SAGADAHOCK. 
t JAMES GOWEN, Esq. 

AT LARGE. 
t JAMES HUMPHREY, Esq. ; t GEORGE LEONARD, JR., Esq. 

[Those marked t were not of the Council last year.] 

" The list of Councillors chosen Yesterday being this day, agreeable to 
the Direction of the Royal Charter, presented to the Lieutenant Governor, 
His Honor was pleased to consent to the Election of the Gentlemen 
before-mentioned, except the Hon. JOHN HANCOCK, Esq., and JERATH 
MEEL BOWERS, Esq. JOSEPH GERRISH, Esq., declined going to the 
Board." The Massachusetts Gazette, Monday, June 4, 1770. 



DISCOURSE III 

AN ELECTION SERMON. 



HE THAT RULETH OVER MEN MUST BE JUST, RULING IN THE FEAR OP GOD. 
AND HE SHALL BE AS THE LIGHT OF THE MORNING WHEN THE SUN RISETH, 
EVEN A MORNING WITHOUT CLOUDS: AS THE TENDER GRASS SPRINGING 
OUT OF THE EARTH BY CLEAR SHINING AFTER RAIN. 2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4. 

THE solemn introduction to the words now read, re 
spectable hearers, is manifestly designed to engage your 
attention and regard, as given by inspiration from God, 
and as containing the last, the dying words of one of the 
greatest and best of earthly rulers, who, by ruling in the 
fear of God, had served his generation according to the 
divine will. Transporting reflection ! when his flesh and 
his heart failed, and his glory was consigned to dust. 

From this and many other passages in the sacred ora 
cles, it is evident that the Supreme Ruler, though he has 
directed to no particular mode of civil government, yet 
allows and approves of the establishment of it among 
men. 

The ends of civil government, in divine revelation, are 
clearly pointed out, the character of rulers described, and 
the duty of subjects asserted and explained ; and in this 
view civil government may be considered as an ordinance 
of God, and, when justly exercised, greatly subservient to 
the glorious purposes of divine providence and grace: 
but the particular form is left to the choice and determi 
nation of mankind. 

14 



158 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

In a pure state of nature, government is in a great 
measure unnecessary. Private property in that state is 
inconsiderable. Men need no arbiter to determine their 
rights; they covet only a bare support; their stock is but 
the subsistence of a day; the uncultivated deserts are their 
habitations, and they carry their all with them in their 
frequent removes. They are each one a law to himself, 
which, in general, is of force sufficient for their security in 
that course of life. 

It is far otherwise when mankind are formed into col 
lective bodies, or a social state of life. Here, their fre 
quent mutual intercourse, in a degree, necessarily leads 
them to different apprehensions respecting their several 
rights, even where their intentions are upright. Tempta 
tions to injustice and violence increase, and the occasions 
of them multiply in proportion to the increase and opu 
lence of the society. The laws of nature, though enforced 
by divine revelation, which bind the conscience of the 
upright, prove insufficient to restrain the sons of violence, 
who have not the fear of God before their eyes. 

A society cannot long subsist in such a state; their 
safety, their social being, depends upon the establishment 
of determinate rules or laws, with proper penalties to en 
force them, to which individuals shall be subjected. The 
laws, however wisely adapted, cannot operate to the public 
security unless they are properly executed. The execu 
tion of them remaining in the hands of the whole com 
munity, leaves individuals to determine their own rights, 
and, in effect, in the same circumstances as in a state of 
nature. The remedy in this case is solely in the hands of 
the community. 

A society emerging from a state of nature, in respect to 
authority, are all upon a level ; no individual can justly 
challenge a right to make or execute the laws by which it 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 159 

is to be governed, but only by the choice or general con 
sent of the community. The people, the collective body 
only, have a right, under God, to determine who shall ex 
ercise this trust for the common interest, and to fix the 
bounds of their authority; and, consequently, unless we 
admit the most evident inconsistence, those in authority, 
in the whole of their public conduct, are accountable to 
the society which gave them their political existence. 
This is evidently the natural origin and state of all civil 
government, the sole end and design of which is, not to 
ennoble a few and enslave the multitude, but the public 
benefit, the good of the people ; that they may be protected 
in their persons, and secured in the enjoyment of all their 
rights, and be enabled to lead quiet and peaceable lives in 
all godliness and honesty. While this manifest design of 
civil government, under whatever form, is kept in full 
view, the reciprocal obligations of rulers and subjects are 
obvious, and the extent of prerogative and liberty will be 
indisputable. 

In a civil state, that form is most eligible which is best 
adapted to promote the ends of government the benefit 
of the community. Reason and experience teach that a 
mixed government is most conducive to this end. In the 
present imperfect state, the whole power cannot with 
safety be entrusted with a single person ; nor with many, 
acting jointly in the same public capacity. Various 
branches of power, concentring in the community from 
which they originally derive their authority, are a mutual 
check to each other in their several departments, and 
jointly secure the common interest. This may indeed, in 
some instances, retard the operations of government, but 
will add dignity to its deliberate counsels and weight to 
its dictates. 

This, after many dangerous conflicts with arbitrary 



160 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

power, is now the happy constitution of our parent state. 
We rejoice in the gladness of our nation. May no weapon 
formed against it prosper ; may it be preserved inviolate 
till time shall be no more. This, under God, has caused 
Great Britain to exalt her head above the nations, restored 
the dignity of royal authority, and rendered our kings 
truly benefactors. The prince upon the British throne 
can have no real interest distinct from his subjects; his 
crown is his inheritance, his kingdom his patrimony, which 
he must be disposed to improve for his own and his fam 
ily s interest ; his highest glory is to rule over a free peo 
ple and reign in the hearts of his subjects. The Peers, 
who are lords of Parliament, are his hereditary council. 
The Commons, elected by the people, are considered as 
the grand inquest of the kingdom, and, while incorrupt, 
are a check upon the highest offices in the state. A con 
stitution thus happily formed and supported, as a late 
writer has observed, cannot easily be subverted but by the 
prevalence of venality in the representatives of the people. 
How far septennial parliaments 1 conduce to this, time may 
further show; or whether this is not an infraction upon 
the national constitution, is not for me to determine. But 
the best constitution, separately considered, is only as a 



1 The Septennial Bill of George I., extending the duration of Par 
liaments to seven years, was passed to defeat the intrigues of the Popish 
faction, whose " conspiracy against the House of Hanover continued," Sir- 
James Mackintosh says, " till the last years of the reign of George II., . 
. . . . and whose hostility to the Protestant succession was not extin 
guished till the appearance of their leaders at the court of George III. 
proclaimed to the world their hope that Jacobite principles might re- 
ascend the throne of England with a monarch of the House of Bruns 
wick." It was the effrontery of their propaganda in New England that 
roused Dr. Mayhew in 1750. See his Sermon on the " Martyrdom " of 
Charles I., p. 102. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 161 

line which marks out the enclosure, or as a fitly organized 
body without spirit or animal life. 1 

The advantages of civil government, even under the 
British form, greatly depend upon the character and con 
duct of those to whom the administration is committed. 
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; 
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. The 
Most High,. therefore, who is just in all his ways, good to 
all, and whose commands strike dread, has strictly enjoined 
faithfulness upon all those who are advanced to any place 
of public trust. Rulers of this character cooperate with 
God in his gracious dispensations of providence, and under 
him are diffusive blessings to the people, and are com 
pared to the light of morning, when the sun riseth, even a 
morning without clouds. 

O 

By the ruler in the text is intended not only the king as 
supreme, but also every one in subordinate place of power 
and trust, whether they act in legislative or executive 
capacity, or both. In whatever station men act for the 
public, they are included in this general term, and must 
direct their conduct by the same upright principle. Jus 
tice, as here expressed, is not to be taken in a limited 
sense, but as a general term, including every quality neces 
sary to be exercised for the public good by those who 

1 Pope s explanation of his two celebrated lines, 

" For forms of government let fools contest: 
Whate er is best administered is best," 

was, " that no form of gorernment, however excellent in itself, can be 
sufficient to make a people happy unless it be administered with integrity. 
On the contrary, the best sort of government, when the form of it is pre 
served and the administration corrupt, is most dangerous." When the 
political institutions of our fathers cease to be animated by their spirit 
and virtues, the forms only will remain, monuments of their wisdom, and 
not less of our folly. ED. 

14* 



162 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

accept the charge of it. Justice must be tempered with 
wisdom, prudence, and clemency, otherwise it will degen 
erate into rigor and oppression. 

This solemn charge given to rulers is not an arbitrary 
injunction imposed by God, but is founded in the most 
obvious laws of nature and reason. Rulers are appointed 
for this very end to be ministers of God for good. The 
people have a right to expect this from them, and to require 
it, not as an act of grace, but as their unquestionable due. 
It is the express or implicit condition upon which they were 
chosen and continued in public office, that they attend 
continually upon this very thing. Their time, their abil 
ities, their authority by their acceptance of the public 
trust are consecrated to the community, and cannot, in 
justice, be withheld ; they are obliged to seek the welfare 
of the people, and exert all their powers to promote the 
common interest. This continual solicitude for the com 
mon good, however depressing it may appear, is what 
rulers of every degree have taken upon themselves ; and, 
in justice to the people, in faithfulness to God, they must 
either sustain it with fidelity, or resign their office. 

The first attention of the faithful ruler will be to the sub 
jects of government in their specific nature. He will not 
forget that he ruleth over men, men who are of the 
same species with himself, and by nature equal, men 
who are the offspring of God, and alike formed after his 
glorious image, men of like passions and feelings with 
himself, and, as men, in the sight of their common Creator 
of equal importance, men who have raised him to power, 
and support him in the exercise of it, men who are 
reasonable beings, and can be subjected to no human 
restrictions which are not founded in reason, and of the 
fitness of which they may be convinced, men who are 
moral agents, and under the absolute control of the High 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 163 

Possessor of heaven and earth, and cannot, without the 
greatest impropriety and disloyalty to the King of kings, 
yield unlimited subjection 1 to any inferior power, men 
whom the Son of God hath condescended to ransom, and 
dignified their nature by becoming the son of man, men 
who have the most evident right, in every decent way, to 
represent to rulers their grievances, and seek redress. The 
people forfeit the rank they hold in God s creation when 
they silently yield this important point, and sordidly, like 
Issachar, crouch under every burden wantonly laid iipon 
them. And rulers greatly tarnish their dignity when they 
attempt to treat their subjects otherwise than as their 
fellow-men, men 2 who have reposed the highest confi 
dence in their fidelity, and to whom they are accountable 
for their public conduct, and, in a word, men among 
whom they must, without distinction, stand before the 
dread tribunal of Heaven. Just rulers, therefore, in making 
and executing the laws of society, will consider who ffliey 
are to oblige, and accommodate them to the state and con 
dition of men. 

Fidelity to the public requires that the laws be as plain 
and explicit as possible, that the less knowing may under 
stand, and not be ensnared by them, while the artful evade 
their force. Mysteries of law and government may be 
made a cloak of unrighteousness. The benefits of the 
constitution and of the laws must extend to every branch 
and each individual in society, of whatever degree, that 



1 " Three millions of people, so dead to all the feelings of liberty as 
voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to 
make slaves of the rest "of the nation. Pitt. "We have counted the 
cost of th is contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery." 
Dec. of Congress, July 6, 1775. ED. 

2 Perhaps the preacher here caught the eye of a Hutchinson or an 
Oliver. ED. 



164 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

every man may enjoy his property, and pursue his honest 
course of life with security. The just ruler, sensible he is 
in trust for the public, with an impartial hand will supply 
the various offices in society ; his eye will be upon the 
faithful ; merit only in the candidate will attract his atten 
tion. He will not, without sufficient reason, multiply 
lucrative offices in the community, which naturally tends 
to introduce idleness and oppression. Justice requires 
that the emoluments of every office, constituted for the 
common interest, be proportioned to their dignity and the 
service performed for the public ; parsimony, in this case, 
enervates the force of government, and frustrates the most 
patriotic measures. A people, therefore, for their own 
security, must be supposed willing to pay tribute to whom 
it is due, and freely support the dignity of those under 
whose protection they confide. 1 On the other hand, the 
people may apprehend that they have just reason to com 
plain of oppression and wrong, and to be jealous of their 
liberties, when subordinate public offices are made the 
surest step to wealth and ease. 2 This not only increases 
the expenses of government, but is naturally productive 
of dissipation and luxury, of the severest animosities among 
candidates for public posts, and of venality and corruption 
the most fatal to a free state. 



1 The preacher alludes to the standing controversy with the crown about 
fixed salaries to the crown appointees, which the colony persistently re 
fused, but voted such sums from year to year as seemed expedient, thus 
holding the officers to a certain dependence on the people. Beside, if 
they were freemen, their property was their own, and riot the king s; and 
they quoted John Hampden s case. " If the votes of the House are to be 
controlled by the direction of a minister, we have left us but a faint sem 
blance of liberty." ED. 

2 The reference is to the custom house and revenue officers, whose num 
bers and whose salaries were limited only by the " commissioners," who 
were as irresponsible to the people as is a slave-trader to his victim. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 165 

Rulers are appointed guardians of the constitution in 
their respective stations, and must confine themselves 
within the limits by which their authority is circumscribed. 
A free state will no longer continue so than while the con 
stitution is maintained entire in all its branches and con 
nections. If the several members of the legislative power 
become entirely independent of each other, it procluceth a 
schism in the body politic; and the effect is the same when 
the executive is in no degree under the control of the 
legislative power, 1 the balance is destroyed, and the exe 
cution of the laws left to arbitrary will. The several 
branches of civil power, as joint pillars, each bearing its 
due proportion, are the support, and the only proper sup 
port, of a political structure regularly formed. A consti 
tution which cannot support its own w eight must fall; it 
must be supposed essentially defective in its form or admin 
istration. 

Military aid 2 has ever been deemed dangerous to a free 
civil state, and often has been used as an effectual engine 

O 

to subvert it. Those who, in the camp and in the field of 
battle, are our glory and defence, from the experience of 
other nations, will be thought, in time of peace, a very 
improper safeguard to a constitution which has liberty, 
British liberty, for its basis. When a people are in sub 
jection to those who are detached from their fellow-citi 
zens, under distinct laws and rules, supported in idleness 
and luxury, armed with the terrors of death, under the 
most absolute command, ready and obliged to execute the 

1 The royal governors declared themselves absolutely bound by their 
ministerial instructions. ED. 

2 The partisans of despotism Bernard, Hutchinson, Oliver, and others 
had induced the crown to send troops, foreign troops, to enforce foreign 
laws, to dragoon the " subjects " into obedience, in violation of the charter 
and of the English constitution. ED. 



166 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

most daring orders what must, what has been the con- 
Inter arma silent leges. 



sequence ? 



Justice also requires of rulers, in their legislative ca 
pacity, that they attend to the operation of their own acts, 
and repeal 1 whatever laws, upon an impartial review, they 
find to be inconsistent with the laws of God, the rights of 
men, and the general benefit of society. This the commu 
nity hath a right to expect. And they must have mis 
taken apprehensions of true dignity who imagine they can 
acquire or support it by persisting in wrong measures, and 
thereby counteracting the sole end of government. It 
belongs to the all-seeing God alone absolutely to be of one 
mind. It is the glory of man, in whatever station, to per 
ceive and correct his mistakes. Arrogant pretences to 
infallibility, in matters of state or religion, represent human 
nature in the most contemptible light. We have a view 
of our nature in its most abject state when we read the 
senseless laws of the Medes and Persians, or hear the im 
potent thunders of the Vatican. Stability in promoting 
the public good, which justice demands, leads to a change 
of measures when the interest of the community requires 
it, which must often be the case in this mutable, imperfect 
state. 

The just ruler will not fear to have his public conduct 
critically inspected, but will choose to recommend himself 
to the approbation of every man. As he expects to be 
obeyed for conscience sake, he will require nothing incon 
sistent with its dictates, and be desirous that the most 
scrupulous mind may acquiesce in the justice of his rule. 
As in his whole administration, so in this, he will be am 
bitious to imitate the Supreme Ruler, who appeals to his 

1 As they had done in the case of the Stamp Act, for instance. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 167 

people "Are not my ways equal ? " Knowing, therefore, 
that his conduct will bear the light, 1 and his public char 
acter be established by being fully known, he will rather 
encourage than discountenance a decent freedom of speech, 
not only in public assemblies, but among the people. This 
liberty is essential to a free constitution, and the ruler s 
surest guide. As in nature we best judge of causes by 
their effects, so rulers hereby will receive the surest in 
formation of the fitness of their laws 2 and the exactness 
of their execution, the success of their measures, and 
whether they are chargeable with any mistakes from par 
tial evidence or human frailty, and whether all acting 
under them, in any subordinate place, express the fidelity 
becoming their office. This decent liberty the just ruler 
will consider not as his grant, but a right inherent in the 
people, without which their obedience is rendered merely 
passive; and though, possibly, under a just administra 
tion, it may degenerate into licentiousness, which in its 
extreme is subversive of all government, yet the history 
of past, ages and of our nation shows that the greatest 
dangers have arisen from lawless power. The body of a 
people are disposed to lead quiet and peaceable lives, and 
it is their highest interest to support the government 
under which their quietness is ensured. They retain a 
reverence for their superiors, and seldom foresee or suspect 
danger till they feel their burdens. 

1 The colony obtained copies of official correspondence with the British 
ministry, exposing the secrets and plots against their liberties. Six of 
Governor Bernardis and one of General Gage s letters had been sent by 
Mr. Bollan, the colonial agent, to the Council, in April, 1709. The disclo 
sures enraged the people, and made the writers odious. ED. 

a In his letter to England, OCT. 20, 1769, Hutchinson wrote: "I have been 
tolerably treated since the Governor s" Bernard "departure, no other 
charge being made against me in our scandalous newspapers except my 
bad principles in matters of government." ED. 



168 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

Rulers of every degree are in a measure above the fear 
of man, but are, equally with others, under the restraints 
of the divine law. The Almighty has not divested him 
self of his own absolute authority by permitting subordi 
nate government among men. He allows none to rule 
otherwise than under him and in his fear, and without a 
true fear of God justice will be found to be but an empty 
name. Though reason may in some degree investigate 
the relation and fitness of things, yet I think it evident 
that moral obligations are founded wholly in a belief of 
God and his superintending providence. This belief, 
deeply impressed on the mind, brings the most convincing 
evidence that men are moral agents, obliged to act accord 
ing to the natural and evident relation of tilings, and the 
rank they bear in God s creation ; that the divine will, 
however made known to them, is the law by which all 
their actions must be regulated, and their state finally de 
termined. 

Rulers may in a degree be influenced to act for the 
public good from education, from a desire of applause, 
from the natural benevolence of their temper; but these 
motives are feeble and inconstant without the superior 
aids of religion. They are men of like passions with 
others, and the true fear of God only is sufficient to con 
trol the lusts of men, and especially the lust of dominion, 
to suppress pride, the bane of every desirable quality in 
the human soul, the never-failing source of wanton and 
capricious power. " So did not I," said the renowned 
governor of Judah, "because of the fear of God." He 
had nothing to fear from the people. His commission he 
received from the luxurious Persian court, where the 
voice of distress was not heard, where no sad countenance 
might appear; but he feared his God. This moved him 
to hear the cries of his people, and without delay redress 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 169 

their wrongs. He knew this was pleasing to his God, and, 
while he acted in his fear, trusted he would think upon 
him for good. This fear doth not intend simply a dread 
of the Almighty as the Supreme Ruler and Judge of men, 
but especially a filial reverence, founded in esteem and 
superlative love implanted in the heart. This will natu 
rally produce a conformity to God in his moral perfections, 
an inclination to do his will, and a delight in those acts of 
beneficence which the Maker of all things displays through 
out his extended creation. This fear of God is the begin 
ning and also the perfection of human wisdom ; and, though 
dominion is not absolutely founded in grace, .yet a true 
principle of religion must be considered as a necessary 
qualification in a ruler. 

The religion of Jesus teacheth the true fear of God, and 
marvellously discloseth the plan of divine government. 
In his gospel, as through a glass, we see heaven opened, 
the mysteries of providence and grace unveiled, Jesus 
sitting on the right hand of God, to whom all power is 
committed, and coming to judge the world in righteous 
ness. Here is discovered, to the admiration of angels, the 
joy of saints, and the terror of the wicked, the government 
of the man Christ Jesus, founded in justice and mercy, 
which in his glorious administration meet together in 
perfect harmony. The sceptre of his kingdom is a right 
sceptre; he loveth righteousness and hateth wickedness. 
And though his throne is on high, prepared in the 
heavens, yet he makes known to the sons of men his 
mighty acts and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 
By him kings reign and princes decree justice, even all 
the nobles and judges of the earth. His eyes are upon 
the ways of men. His voice, which is full of majesty, to 
earthly potentates is, Be wise now, O ye kings ; be in 
structed, ye judges of the earth; serve the Lord with fear, 

15 



170 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

and rejoice in your exalted stations with submissive awe; 
embrace the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the 
way. 

The Christian temper, wrought in the heart by the 
divine Spirit, restores the human mind to its primitive 
rectitude, animates every faculty of the soul, directs every 
action to its proper end, extends its views beyond the 
narrow limits of time, and raises its desires to immortal 
glory. This makes the face of every saint to shine, but 
renders the ruler, in his elevated station, gloriously re 
splendent. This commands reverence to his person, 
attention to his counsels, respect to the laws, and author 
ity to all his directions, and renders an obedient people 
easy and happy under his rule ; which leads to the con 
sideration of the last thing suggested in the text, viz. : 
The glorious effects of a just administration of govern 
ment. 

"And he shall be as the light of the morning when the 
sun riseth, even a morning without clouds ; as the tender 
grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after 
rain." This includes both the distinguishing honor and 
respect acquired by rulers of this character, and the un 
speakable felicity of a people thus favored of the Lord. 
Justice and judgment are the habitation of the throne of 
the Most High, and he delighteth to honor those who rule 
over men in his fear. He has dignified them with a title 
of divinity, and called them, in a peculiar sense, the chil 
dren of the Highest. And we are not to wonder that, in 
the darker ages of the world, from worshipping the host 
of heaven the ignorant multitude were led to pay divine 
honors to their beneficent rulers, whom they esteemed as 
demi-gods. 

The light of divine revelation has dispelled these mists 
of superstition and impiety, and opened to the pious ruler s 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 171 

view the sure prospect of unfading glory in the life to 
come; and in the present state he is not without his 
reward. To find that his conduct meets with public 
approbation, that he is acceptable to the multitude of 
his brethren, greatly corroborates his internal evidence 
of integrity and impartiality, and especially of his ability 
for public action, and which is the height of his ambition 
in this state of probation enlarges his opportunity of 
doing good. The shouts of applause not from sordid 
parasites, but the grateful, the artless multitude the 
pious ruler receives as the voice of nature the voice 
of God. This is his support under the weight of govern 
ment, and fixes his dependence upon the aid of the Al 
mighty, in whose fear he rules. How excellent in the 
sight of God and man are rulers of this character ! 

Truly the light is good, and a pleasant thing it is to 
behold the sun. Thus desirable, thus benign, are wise 
and faithful rulers to a people. The beautiful allusion 
in the text naturally illustrates this. The sun, as the 
centre of the solar system, connects the planetary worlds, 
and retains them in their respective orbits. They all 
yield to the greater force of his attractive power, and thus 
with the greatest regularity observe the laws impressed 
upon the material creation. The ruler of the day, as on a 
throne, shining in his strength, nearly preserves his station, 
and under the prime Agent directs all their motions, im 
parting light and heat to his several attendants and the 
various beings which the Creator has placed upon them. 
His refulgent rays dispel the gloomy shades, and cause the 
cheerful light to arise out of thick darkness, and all nature 
to rejoice. The planets, with their lesser attendants, in 
conformity to their common head, mutually reflect with 
feebler beams their borrowed light for the common benefit; 



172 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

and all, in proportion to their distance and gravity, bear 
their part to support the balance of the grand machine. 

By this apposite metaphor the divine Spirit has repre 
sented the character and extensive beneficence of the 
faithful ruler, who, with a godlike ardor, employs his 
authority and influence to advance t^e common interest. 
The righteous Lord, whose countenance beholdeth the 
upright, will support and succeed rulers of this character, 
and it is an evidence of his favor to a people when such are 
appointed to rule over them. The natural effect of this is 
quietness and peace, as showers upon the tender grass, 
and clear shining after rain. In this case a loyal people 
must be happy, and fully sensible that they are so, while 
they find their persons in safety, their liberties preserved, 
their property defended, and their confidence in their 
rulers entire. The necessary expenses 1 of the govern 
ment will be borne by the community with pleasure while 
justice holds the balance and righteousness flows down 
their streets. 

Such a civil state, according to the natural course of 
things, must flourish in peace at home, and be respectable 
abroad ; private virtues will be encouraged, and vice 
driven into darkness ; industry in the most effectual man 
ner promoted, arts and sciences patronized, the true fear 
of God cultivated, and his worship maintained. This 
this is their only invaluable treasure. This is the glory, 
safety, and best interest of rulers the sure protection and 
durable felicity of a people. This, through the Redeemer, 
renders the Almighty propitious, and nigh unto a people 
in all they call upon him for. Happy must the people be 
that is in such a case ; yea, happy is the people whose 
God is the Lord. 

1 Seep. 164, note 1. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 173 

But the affairs of this important day demand our more 
immediate attention. 

With sincere gratitude to our Almighty Preserver, we 
see the return of this anniversary, and the leaders of this 
people assembled though not, according to the general 
desire, in the city * of our solemnities to ask counsel of 
God, and, as we trust, in the integrity of their hearts, and 
by the skilfulness of their hands, to lead us in ways of 
righteousness and peace. The season indeed is dark ; 
but God is our sun and shield. When we consider the 
days of old, and the years of ancient time, the scene 
brightens, our hopes revive. 2 Our fathers trusted in God ; 
he was their help and their shield. 

These ever-memorable worthies, nearly a century and a 
half since, by the prevalence of spiritual and civil tyranny, 
were driven from their delightful native land to seek a 
quiet retreat in these uncultivated ends of the earth ; and, 
however doubtful it might appear to them, or others, 
whether the lands they were going to possess were prop- 

1 At the Town-House, in Boston, from which usual place of legisla 
tion the arbitrary interference of the king excluded us. This show of 
despotism, rather than the inconvenience, is the real objection to sitting at 
Cambridge. ED. 

2 Here is a clear and beautiful reference to the principles and history of 
New England, and of "the glorious Revolution " of 1089 a reminis 
cence very profitable for Governor Hutchinson to reflect on, and very sug 
gestive to the Board of Councillors and House of Representatives who 
hear it, and to all people who may read it. Samuel Adams, Clerk, and 
now " the most active member of the House," will see that it is published 
and circulated. It suggests precedents for curing the present ills in our 
body politic, if gentler remedies, such as petitions and remonstrances, 
prove to be insufficient. Dr. Mayhcw, twenty years before this, considered 
in his pulpit " the extent of that subjection to the higher powers which 
is enjoined as a duty upon all Christians. Some," he said, " have thought 
it warrantable and glorious to disobey the civil powers in certain cases, 
and in cases of very great and general oppression," etc. See the passage 
on pages 02, 63. ED. 

15* 



174 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

erly under the English jurisdiction, yet our ancestors were 
desirous of retaining a relation to their native country, 
and to be considered as subjects of the same prince. They 
left their native land with the strongest assurances that 
they and their posterity should enjoy the privileges of 
free, natural-born English subjects, which they supposed 
fully comprehended in their charter. The powers of gov 
ernment therein confirmed to them they considered as 
including English liberty in its full extent ; and however 
defective their charter might be in form, a thing common 
in that day, yet the spirit and evident intention of it 
appears to be then understood. The reserve therein made, 
of passing no laws contrary to those of the parent state, 
was then considered as a conclusive evidence of their full 
power, under that restriction only, to enact whatever laws 
they should judge conducive to their benefit. 

Our fathers supposed their purchase of the aboriginals 
gave them a just title to the lands; that the produce of 
them, by their labor, was their property, which they had 
an exclusive right to dispose of; that a legislative power, re 
specting their internal polity, was ratified to them ; and that 
nothing short of this, considering their local circumstances, 
could entitle them or their posterity to the rights and 
liberties of free, natural-born English subjects. And it 
does not appear but that this was the general sentiment 
of the nation and Parliament. 1 They did not then view 
their American adventurers in the light ancient Rome did 

1 This was a complimentary and politic view, no doubt; but to Massa 
chusetts the price of her liberty had been eternal vigilance. Indifference 
to the colonies, the changes of government, the contests between liberty 
and despotism in England, each in turn were opportunities to our fathers 
for defeating the ceaseless intrigues of our enemies. The history of our 
charters, treated as a speciality, would be a proud monument to the pru 
dence, judgment, foresight, tact the statesmanship of the fathers of 
New England. ED. 



OP CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 175 

her distant colonies, as tributaries unjustly subjected to 
arbitrary rule by the dread or force of her victorious 
arms, but as sons, arrived to mature age, entitled to dis 
tinct property, yet connected by mutual ties of affection 
and interest, and united under the common supreme head. 
The New England charter was not considered as an act 
of grace, but a compact between the sovereign and the 
first patentees. Our fathers plead their right to the priv 
ilege of it in their address 1 to King Charles the Second, 
wherein they say "it was granted to them, their heirs, 
assigns, and associates forever ; not only the absolute use 
and propriety of the tract of land therein mentioned, but 
also full and absolute power of governing all the people 

1 After the restoration of monarchy, in 1G60, and the " Charles the Mar 
tyr" clergy and courtiers were reinstated, not by the aid of the Inde 
pendents, the old Laudian hate of New England became rampant, and 
we find abundant letters from their emissaries to Clarendon, to the Bishop 
of London, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the like, with a plenty of 
reports, of " articles of high misdemeanor," writs of quo warranto, dis 
courses of petty intrigue, and other spawn of such creatures as Andros, 
Randolph, and Maverick. The Revolution of 1089, simultaneous in Old 
England and New England, blasted their hopes. The four commissioners, 
Nichols, Cartwright, Carr, and Maverick, any two or three of them to 
be a quorum, were commissioned by Charles II., in 1004, to travel 
through New England to look out for " the reputation and credit of 
Christian religion, (!) as an evidence and manifestation of our fatherly 
affection towards all our subjects ... in New England, . . . their 
liberties and privileges." (!) "All complaints and appeals, in all causes 
and matters, as well military as criminal and civil," to be " determined 
. . . according to their good and sound discretions." Thus, by one 
dash of his pen, " Charles R." proposed to overthrow every institution of 
government in New England; and his commissioners one of them the 
most active and malicious, and a debased and brutal man, as his name 
then stood on the criminal records of Massachusetts arc simply, "from 
time to time, as they shall find expedient, to certify us, or our privy coun 
cil, of their actings and proceedings touching the premises." This was 
one of the occasions of the address to King Charles, October 25, 1004. 
Hutchinson s Massachusetts, Appendix, xv. xvi. ED. 



176 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

of this place by men chosen from among themselves, and 
according to such laws as they shall from time to time see 
meet to make and establish, not being repugnant to the 
laws of England ; they paying only the fifth part of the 
ore of gold and silver that shall be found here, for and in 
respect of all duties, demands, exactions, and services 
whatsoever." And, from an apprehension that the powers 
given by the crown to the four commissioners sent here 
were in effect subversive of their rights and government, 
they add: "We are carefully studious of all due subjec 
tion to your Majesty, and that not only for wrath, but for 
conscience sake." "But it is a great unhappiness to be 
reduced to so hard a case as to have no other testimony 
of our subjection and loyalty offered us but this; viz., to 
destroy our own being, which nature teacheth us to pre 
serve, or to yield up our liberties, which are far dearer to 
us than our lives ; and which, had we any fears of being 
deprived of, we had never wandered from our fathers 
houses into these ends of the earth, nor laid out our labors 
and estates therein." 

But all their humble addresses were to no purpose. As 
an honorable historian observes: "At this time Great 
Britain, and Scotland especially, was suffering under a 
prince inimical to civil liberty ; and New England, with 
out a miraculous interposition, must expect to share the 
same judgments." And, indeed, of this bitter cup, the 
dregs were reserved for this people, in that and the suc 
ceeding happily short but inglorious reign. Our charter 
was dissolved, 1 and despotic power took place. Sir Ed- 

1 On the 18th of June, 1084. James II. was proclaimed in Boston, 1G86, 
April 12th; and, May 15th, Dudley received a commission, as President, 
with a Council, to govern Massachusetts, which was superseded by the 
arrival of Andros, December 19, 1686, as Governor of New England. He 
reigned tilt 10th of April, 1680, when he was seized by the " sovereign" 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 177 

mund Andros, a name never to be forgotten, in imi 
tation of his royal master, in wanton triumph trampled 
upon all our laws and rights; and his government was 
only tolerable as it was a deliverance from the shocking 
terrors of the more infamous Kirk. 1 Sir Edmund at first 
made high professions of regard to the public good. But 
it has been observed "that Nero concealed his tyrannical 
disposition more years than Sir Edmund and his creatures 
did months." 

But the triumphing of the wicked is often short. 2 The 
glorious revolution, under the Prince of Orange, displayed 

people, and late in the year was " sent in safe custody" to England. 
Andros was a n t instrument for James II., who commended the atrocities 
of a Jeffries, and would sell his crown and his people to France. ED. 

1 He was colonel of the troops which assisted Judge Jeffries in his 
butcheries in the west of England, Avhich the " Catholic" James II. de 
lighted to relate to his foreign ambassadors. " Kirke would give his 
officers a grand dinner; on the removal of the cloth the health of the 
king and queen was drunk, and at this signal the executioners hanged, 
under the very eyes of the guests, and to the sound of military instru 
ments, the latest prisoners, whose dying agonies merely excited hideous 
mirth." He thus put to death nearly six hundred persons. "When 
closely pressed to become a Papist, he answered that he was preengaged; 
having promised the Emperor of Morocco, if he ever did change his reli 
gion, that he would turn Mohammedan." Randolph, the correspondent 
of Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter from Boston, in 1686, 
writes to his " Grace" that the colonists "have been struck with a panicke 
feare upon the apprehension of Col. Kurck s coming hither to be their 
governor," and entertains " his Grace" with petty scandal and unscrupu 
lous plottings about " the affaires of our church" in Massachusetts. This 
was in reply to the prelate s inquiries, who was anxious to "propagate 
the gospel in foreign parts." Carrel s Counter-Revolution in England, 
ed. 1857. 107, 213; Hutchinson s Collections, 549, 552. ED. 

2 Governor Hutchinson cannot have listened to this sermon, and its 
implied parallel of the times of Andros with his own official period, with 
out discomfort, and perhaps regret. His own pen had recorded, in liis 
History of Massachusetts, the infamy of the men of these times, and he 
himself was plainly on the high road to promotion or to perdition. 

ED. 



178 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

a brighter scene to Great Britain and her colonies ; and 
though no part of its extended empire did bear a greater 
part in the joy of that memorable event than this prov 
ince, yet it was then apprehended we were not the great 
est sharers in the happy effects of it. I trust we are not 
insensible of the blessings we then received, nor unthankful 
for our deliverance from the depths of woe. 

We- submitted to the form of government established 
under our present charter, 1 trusting, under God, in the 
wisdom and paternal tenderness of our gracious sovereign, 
that in all appointments reserved to the crown a sacred 
regard would be maintained to the rights of British sub 
jects, and that the royal ear would always be open to 
every reasonable request and complaint. It is far from 
my intention to determine whether there has been just 
reason for uneasiness or complaint on this account. But, 
with all submission, I presume the present occasion will 
permit me to say that the importance of his Majesty s 
Council to this people appears in a more conspicuous 
light since the endeavors which have been used to render 
this invaluable branch of our constitution wholly depend 
ent upon the chair. Should this ever be the case, which 
God forbid ! liberty here will case. This day of the 
gladness of our hearts will be turned into the deepest 
sorrow. 

The authority and influence of his Majesty s Council, 
in various respects, while happily free from restraints, is 

1 The "province" charter of October 7, 1691, was submitted to not 
without reluctance. By it the governor had the sole appointment of 
military officers, of officers of the courts of justice with the consent of the 
Council, and a negative on all others chosen by the General Court; so that, 
as the governor held his commission from the crown, they were, in effect, 
royal appointments, though not salaried by the crown. Under the former 
charter all were chosen by the General Court, and "So accountable to the 
people. See note 1, p. 164. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 179 

momentous ; our well-being greatly depends upon their 
wisdom and integrity. 1 The concern of electing to this 
important trust wise and faithful men belongeth to our 
honored fathers now in General Assembly convened. 
Men of this character, we trust, are to be found; and upon 
such, and only such, we presume will the eye of the electors 
be this day. It is with pleasure that we see this choice in 
the hands of a very respectable part of the community, 
and nearly interested in the effects of it. But our reliance, 
fathers, under God, is upon your acting in his fear. God 
standeth in the assembly of the mighty, and perfectly 
discerns the motives by which you act. May his fear rule 
in your hearts, and unerring counsel be your guide. You 



1 It was usual to elect the lieutenant-governor, provincial secretary, 
attorney-general, and one or more judges of the Supreme Court, to the 
Council. They were a sort of privy council. But, in 1766, their seats 
were filled by the opponents to the Stamp Act, and after this the governor 
found in each successive year fewer friends in council. The lieutenant- 
governor, Hutchinson, in his History of Massachusetts, published in 
the next year, 1707, treating of the Council, declared the government 
of Massachusetts, and of other provinces, defective, for want of a branch 
with " that glorious independence which makes the House of Lords the 
bulwark of the British constitution." Still he thought " the colonies not 
ripe for hereditary honors"! In a series of letters, in November and 
December, 1768, Governor Bernard urges that the king should appoint a 
royal council, instead of that elected by the people, and suggests an act of 
Parliament authorizing the king Governor Bernard being his repre 
sentative to supersede all commissions to improper persons; and Mr. 
Oliver, in February, 1769, in letters to England, objects to the Council 
" as altogether" too " dependent on their constituents .... to 
answer the idea of the House of Lords in the British Legislature." 

After 1766, the Council and the House harmonized in their measures, 
and the unhappy governors, left solitary and alone, sought relief by 
plotting for the overthrow of " this invaluable branch of our constitu 
tion." The schemes of these traitors to liberty names indelible on the 
darkest roll of political baseness were adopted by the British ministry 
four years later, in 1774; but the colonists "trusted in God and kept their 
pdwder dry." ED. 



180 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

have received a Sure token of respect by your being raised 
to this high trust; but true honor is acquired only by 
acting in character. Honor yourselves, gentlemen, 
honor the council-board, your country, your king, and 
your God, by the choice you this day make. You will 
attentively consider the true design of all true government, 
and, without partiality, give your voice for those you 
judge most capable and disposed to promote the public 
interest. Then you will have the satisfaction of having 
faithfully discharged your trust, and be sure of the appro 
bation of the Most High. 

The chief command in this province is now devolved 
upon one 1 of distinguished abilities, who knows our state, 
and naturally must care for us, one who, in early life, 
has received from his country the highest tokens of honor 
and trust in its power to bestow ; and we have a right 
to expect that the higher degrees of them conferred by 
our gracious sovereign will operate through the course of 
his administration to the welfare of this people. His 
Honor is not insensible that, as his power is independent 
of the people, their safety must depend, under* Providence, 
upon his wisdom, justice, and paternal tenderness in the 
exercise of it. It is our ardent wish and prayer that his 
administration may procure ease and quietness to himself 



1 Thomas Hutchinson, distinguished as the historian of the province, 
and excellent in private life, but whose ambition quickened his conscience 
only in his duty to the king, and made him an enemy to his country. 
Born September 9, 1711, of an ancient and honorable family, he graduated 
at Harvard College in 1727, at the early age of sixteen ; was of the Coun 
cil from 1749 to 17GG; lieutenant-governor from 1758 to 1771; in 1700 ap 
pointed Chief Justice, and was now at the head of the government, after 
the departure of Governor Bernard. Faithful to the British ministry in all 
its measures, some of which he suggested, he left his native country June 
1st, 1774, and died in England in June, 1780. Eliot and Allen have ample 
notices of him. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 181 

and the province ; and, having served his generation 
according to the Divine will, he may rise to superior 
honors in the kingdom of God. 

When the elections of this important day are deter 
mined, what further remains to be undertaken for the 
securing our liberties, promoting peace and good order, 
and, above all, the advancement of religion, the true fear 
of God through the land, will demand the highest attention 
of the General Assembly. We trust the Fountain of 
light, who giveth wisdom freely, will not scatter darkness 
in your paths, and that the day is far distant when there 
shall be cause justly to complain, The foundations are 
destroyed what can the righteous do? Our present 
distresses, civil fathers, loudly call upon us all, and you 
in special, to stir up ourselves in the fear of God. Arise ! 
this matter belongeth unto you; we also will be with 
you. Be of good courage, and do it. 

Whether any other laws are necessary for this purpose, 
or whether there is a failure in the execution of the laws 
in being, I presume not to say. But, with all due respect, 
I may be permitted to affirm that no human authority 
can enforce the practice of religion with equal success to 
your example. Your example, fathers, not only in your 
public administrations, but also in private life, will be the 
most forcible law the most effectual means to teach us 
the fear of the Lord, and to depart from evil. Then, and 
not till then, shall we be free indeed ; being delivered from 
the dominion of sin, we become the true sons of God. 

The extent of the secular power in matters of religion 
is undetermined ; but all agree that the example of those 
in authority has the greatest influence upon the manners of 
the people. We are far from pleading for any established 1 

1 " Civil rulers ought undoubtedly to be nursing fathers to the church, 

16 



182 THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

mode of worship, but an operative fear of God, the honor 
of the Redeemer, the everlasting King, according to his 
gospel. We, whose peculiar charge it is to instruct the 
people, preach to little purpose while those in an ad 
vanced state, by their practice, say the fear of God is not 
before their eyes ; yet will we not cease to seek the Lord 
till he come and rain down righteousness upon us. 

I trust on this occasion I may without offence plead the 
cause of our African slaves, and humbly propose the pur 
suit of some effectual measures at least to prevent the 
future importation of them. Difficulties insuperable, I 
apprehend, prevent an adequate remedy for what is past. 
Let the time past more than suffice wherein we, the patrons 
of liberty, have dishonored the Christian name, and de 
graded human nature nearly to a level with the beasts 
that perish. Ethiopia has long stretched out her hands to 
us. Let not sordid gain, acquired by the merchandise of 
slaves and the souls of men, harden our hearts against her 
piteous moans. 1 When God ariseth, and when he visiteth, 

by reproof, exhortation, and their own good and liberal example, as well 
as to protect and defend her against injustice and oppression; but the very 
notion of taxing all to support any religious denomination," etc. Address of 
the Baptists to the Congress at Cambridge, Nov. 22, 1776. 

By the amendment of the constitution, in 1833, the absolute separation 
of church and state was completed. On this subject see " Life and Times 
of Isaac Backus," by Rev. Dr. Hovey, 18-38. ED. 

1 The suggestion of the preacher was heeded. "A Bill to prevent the 
Importation of Slaves from Africa into this Province" was passed in the 
House, but an amendment was proposed by the Council, and it seems to 
have gone no further. In 1767 and 1774, Massachusetts passed laws 
against slavery, which were vetoed by express instructions from England. 
The inhabitants of Boston, at a town meeting, held May 26, 1766, for in 
structing their representatives, Otis, Gushing, Adams, and Hancock, 
charged them " to be very watchful ... for the total abolishing of 
slavery from among us; . . . to move for a law to prohibit the impor 
tation and purchasing slaves for the future." In the first draft of the 
Declaration of Independence was this paragraph: "He" the king 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 183 

what shall we answer? May it be the glory of this prov 
ince, of this respectable General Assembly, and, we could 
wish, of this session, to lead in the cause of the oppressed. 
This will avert the impending vengeance of Heaven, pro 
cure you the blessing of multitudes of your fellow-men 
ready to perish, be highly approved by our common Father, 
who is no respecter of persons, and, we trust, an example 
which would excite the highest attention of our sister 
colonies. May we all, both rulers and people, in this day 
of doubtful expectation, know and practise the things of 
our peace, and serve the Lord our God without disquiet 
in the inheritance which he granted unto our fathers. 
These adventurous worthies, animated by sublimer pros 
pects, dearly purchased this land with their treasure ; they 
and their posterity have defended it with unknown cost, a 
in continual jeopardy of their lives, and with their blood. 
Through the good hands of our God upon us, we have 
for a few years past been delivered from the merciless 
sword of the wilderness, 1 and enjoyed peace in our borders ; 
and there is in the close of our short summer the appear 
ance of plenty in our dwellings ; but, from the length of 



a " Be it far from me, O Lord," said the ancient hero, " that I should do this. 
Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? " There 
fore he would not drink it. Will not the like sentiments rise in a generous 
mind thrust into our possessions? 

" has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most 
sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who 
never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another 
hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. 
This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of 
the CHRISTIAN King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market 
where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for 
suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable 
commerce." ED. 

1 Not much troubled by French and Indians since the conquest of Can 
ada, in 1759-60, ED. 



THE TRUE PRINCIPLES 

our winters, our plenty is consumed, and the one half of 
our necessary labor is spent in dispersing to our flocks and 
herds the ingatherings of the foregoing season ; and it is 
known to every person of common observation that few, 
very few, except in the mercantile way, from one gener 
ation to another, acquire more than a necessary subsistence, 
and sufficient to discharge the expenses of government and 
the support of the gospel, yet content and disposed to lead 
peaceable lives. From misinformations only, we would 
conclude, recent disquiets have arisen. They need not be 
mentioned they are too well known ; their voice is 
gone out through all the earth, and their sound to the end 
of the world. The enemies of Great Britain hold us in 
derision while her cities and colonies are thus perplexed. 1 
America now pleads her right to her possessions, which 
she cannot resign while she apprehends she has truth and 
justice on her side. 

Americans esteem it their greatest infelicity that, 
through necessity, they are thus led to plead with their 
parent state, the land of their forefathers nativity, 
whose interest has always been dear to them, a and whose 
wealth they have increased by their removal more than 
their own. They have assisted in fighting her battles, and 
greatly enlarged her empire, and, God helping, will yet 
extend it through the boundless desert, until it reach from 
sea to sea. They glory in the British constitution, and 
are abhorrent, to a man, of the most distant thought of 
withdrawing their allegiance from their gracious sovereign 



a Their losses and private expenses, in watches, guards, and garrisons for their 
defence, and from continual alarms, in all their former wars, have greatly ex 
ceeded the public charges. 

i " The enemies of Great Britain " scorned the complaints of the colo 
nies against the arbitrary measures of the ministry as unavailing, and 
laughed at their supposed helplessness against wrong. ED. 



OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 185 

and becoming an independent state. And though, with 
unwearied toil, the colonists can now subsist upon the 
labors of their own hands, which they must be driven to 
when deprived of the means of purchase, yet they are 
fully sensible of the mutual benefits of an equitable com 
merce with the parent country, and cheerfully submit to 
regulations of trade productive of the corn in on interest. 
These their claims the Americans consider not as novel, 
or wantonly made, but founded in nature, in compact, in 
their right as men and British subjects ; the same which 
their forefathers, the first occupants, made and asserted as 
the terms of their removal, with their effects, into this 
wilderness,* and with which the glory and interest of their 
king and all his dominions are connected. May these 
alarming disputes be brought to a just and speedy issue, 
and peace and harmony be restored ! 

But while, in imitation of our pious forefathers, we are 
aiming at the security of our liberties, we should all be 
concerned to express by our conduct their piety and vir 
tue, and in a day of darkness and general distress care 
fully avoid everything offensive to God or injurious to 
men. It belongs not only to rulers, but subjects also, to 
set the Lord always before their face, and act in his fear. 
While under government we claim a right to be treated 
as men, we must act in character by yielding that subjec 
tion which becometh us as men. Let every attempt to 
secure our liberties be conducted with a manly fortitude, 
but with that respectful decency which reason approves, 

a It is apprehended a greater sacrifice of private interest to the public good, 
both of Great Britain and the colonies, hath at no time been made than that of 
the patriotic merchants of this and all the considerable colonies, by their non 
importation agreement. And whatever the effects may be, their names will be 
remembered with gratitude to the latest generations, by all true friends to 
Britain and her colonies. 

16* 



186 TRUE PRINCIPLES OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. 

and which alone gives weight to the most salutary meas 
ures. Let nothing divert us from the paths of truth and 
peace, which are the ways of God, and then we may be 
sure that he will be with us, as he was with our fathers, 
and never leave nor forsake us. 

Our fathers where are they ? They looked for another 
and better country, that is, an heavenly. They were but 
as sojourners here, and have long since resigned these 
their transitory abodes, and are securely seated in man 
sions of glory. They hear not the voice of the oppressor. 
We also are all strangers on earth, and must soon, without 
distinction, lie down in the dust, and rise not till these 
heavens and earth are no more. May we all realize the 
appearance of the Son of God to judge the world in 
righteousness, and improve the various talents committed 
to our trust, that we may then lift up our heads with joy, 
and, through grace, receive an inheritance which cannot 
be taken away, even life everlasting! AMEX. 



DISCOURSE 

PREACHED 

December 15th, 1774, 

BEING THE DAY RECOMMENDED 

By the Provincial Congrefs ; 

And Afterwards at ike BOSTON LECTURE. 

BY 

WILLIAM GORDON 

PASTOR OF THE THIRD CHURCH IN ROXBURY 



"And the King confulted with the old men that Itood before 
his father, vhile he yet lived, and faid, how do ye advife, 
that I may anfvver this people ? And they fpake unto him, 

* faying, if thuu wilt be a fervant unto this people this day, 
and wilt ferve them, and anfvver them, and Ipeak good 
words to them, then they will be thy fervants for ever. 1 

i Kings. 12. 6, 7. 

" I ardently wifh that the common enemies to both countries 
may fee to their difappointment, that thefe difputes be- 
tween the Mother country, and the colonies have termina- 
ted like the quarrels of lovers, and increafed the affe6Hon 

* which they ought to bear to each other." 

Governor Gage s Letter to the Hon. Peyton Randolph, Efq; 



THE SECOND EDITION. 



BOSTON: Printed for, and Sold by T H o M A s 
LEVERETT,in Corn-Hill. 1775. 



NOTE. 



The Boston Thursday Lecture, at which Mr. Gordon repeated this sermon, 
was founded by the Rev. John Cotton, in 1633, and yet retains a lingering 
existence, as an opportunity for ministerial gatherings. It was the occasion 
for presenting, and sometimes discussing, questions of general, social, or politi 
cal interest; and a collection of the Thursday lectures, or sermons, for the first 
hundred and fifty years, would be a faithful epitome of the current and progress 
of public opinion during that period. It would hardly be an exaggeration to 
say that much of the early colonial legislation was merely declaratory of what 
had fallen from oracular lips in the Thursday pulpit. So general was the in 
terest in the occasion, that it was established by authority as the " market day." 
The institution illustrates the politico-theological history of New England as 
stated in the Introduction to this volume. " The Shade of the Past " is the title 
of Rev. N. L. Frothiugham s sermon on "The close of the Second Century 
since the establishment of the Thursday Lecture." Rev. R. C. Waterston 
preached, December 14, 1843, " A Discourse in the First Church on the Occasion 
of Resuming the Thursday Lecture." ED. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

A BRIEF OF EVENTS FROM MARCH, 1770, TO DECEMBER, 1774. 



THE reasons which led to the repeal of the Stamp Act prevailed also 
against the act of 1767, which was repealed in March, 1770, excepting as to 
the duty on tea. The British ministry, with Governor Hutchinson and his 
fellow-conspirators, found that British bayonets were powerless against 
non-importation agreements, and that British merchants would not wil 
lingly lose their American commerce. Yet Lord North, with singular 
fatuity, Avhile making this second surrender to the spirit of the " rebel " 
colonies, said: " A total repeal cannot be thought of till America is pros 
trate at our feet"! an anomalous position, offering terms of capitulation, 
and in the same breath demanding unconditional submission! 

Mr. Pownall, who had a thorough knowledge of the colonies, moved for 
a total repeal. "If it be asked," he said, "whether it will remove the 
apprehensions excited by your resolutions and address of the last year for 
bringing to trial in England persons accused of treason in America, I 
answer, no. If it be asked, if this commercial concession would quiet the 
minds of the Americans as to the political doubts and fears which have 
struck them to the heart throughout the continent, I answer, no. So 
long as they are left in doubt whether the Habeas Corpus Act, whether 
the Bill of Rights, whether the Common Law as now existing in England, 
have any operation and effect in America, they cannot be satisfied. At 
this hour they know not whether the civil constitutions be not suspended 
and superseded by the establishment of a military force. The Americans 
think they have, in return to all their applications, experienced a temper 
and discipline that is unfriendly; that the enjoyment and exercise of the 
common rights of freemen have been refused to them. Never, with these 
views, will they solicit the favor of this House ; never more will they wish 
to bring before Parliament the grievances under which they conceive 



190 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

themselves to Labor. Deeply as they feel, they suffer and endure with a 
determined and alarming silence. For their liberty they are under no 
apprehensions. It was first planted under the genius of the constitution; 
it has grown up into a verdant and flourishing tree; and should any severe 
strokes be aimed at the branches, and fate reduce it to the bare stock, it 
would only take deeper root, and spring out again more hardy and durable 
than before. They trust to Providence, and wait with firmness and forti 
tude the issue." 

The House of Representatives, relying on the Massachusetts charter as 
a compact, in a message to Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, July 31, 1770, 
deny that " even his Majesty in Council has any constitutional authority 
to decide any controversies whatever that arise in this province, except 
ing only such matters as are reserved in the charter;" and they " are 
clearly of opinion that your Honor is under no obligation to hold the 
General Court at Cambridge, let your instructions be conceived in terms 
ever so peremptory, inasmuch as it is inconsistent and injurious to the 
province." The}" quote Mr. Locke on civil, government/in the matter of 
prerogative, that the people have "reserved that ultimate determination to 
themselves which belongs to all mankind where there lies no appeal on 
earth, viz., to judge* whether they have just cause to make their appeal to 
Heaven." They add : " We would by no means be understood to suggest 
that this people have occasion at present to proceed to such extremity." 
On June 19th, 1771, they again " protest against all such doctrines, prin 
ciples, and practices as tend to establish either ministerial or even royal 
instructions as laws within the province." Hutchinson replied that the 
charter was a mere grant of "privileges" from the crown, which might 
be cancelled at any time, and that he must act in conformity to his " in 
structions " or not at all. In a message to the governor, on July 5th, they 
say : " We know of no commissioners of his Majesty s customs, nor of 
any revenue his Majesty has a right to establish in North America; we 
know and feel a tribute levied and extorted from those who, if they have 
property, have a right to the absolute disposal of it." 

The apparent lull in public feeling in 1770-72 alarmed the patriot lead 
ers; but it was the calm before a storm. The sight of foreign soldiery 
and hostile fleets to enforce an odious despotism from another land, daily 
demonstrated that non-resistance was slavery. The capture and destruc 
tion of one of the British armed revenue vessels which lined our coasts 
the Gaspee, at Providence, R. I., on the night of June 10th, 1772 was 
the first overt act of resistance, and the people said Amen ! 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 191 

It would be difficult, perhaps, to assign to any one specially the idea of 
committees of correspondence as the most efficient means of unity and of 
concert of action. As already stated, 1 Dr. Mayhew had, in 1766, sug 
gested the thought to Mr. Otis. Gordon says that Mr. Samuel Adams 
visited Mr. James Warren, at Plymouth, to confer with him on the best 
plan for counteracting the misrepresentations of Governor Hutch inson 
that the discontented were a mere faction, and Mr. Warren proposed the 
committees of correspondence. Mr. Adams was pleased with it, and the 
machinery was put in operation at the first favorable opportunity. As 
the government and defence of a free people depend upon its own volun 
tary support, and Governor Hutchinson refused a salary from the province, 
and accepted it of the crown, the General Court did " most solemnly pro 
test that the innovation is an important change of the constitution, and 
exposes the province to a despotic administration of government." 

The Boston " Committee of Correspondence," appointed at this junc 
ture " to state the rights of the colonists ... as men, as Christians, 
and as subjects-; to communicate and publish the same to the several 
towns in this province, and to the world," made their report, at a town 
meeting in Faneuil Hall, on the 20th of November, 1772. They quote 
freely from " Locke on Government," of which there was a Boston edi 
tion published soon after. They declare that, "in case of intolerable 
oppression, civil or religious, men have a right to leave the society they 
belong to and enter into another." That in religion there should be 
mutual toleration of all professions " whose doctrines are not subversive 
of society," a principle which excludes the Papists, for they teach " that 
princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those they call heretics may 
be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so 
absolute a manner, in subversion of government, by introducing, as far 
as possible, into the states under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty, 
and property, that solecism in politics, Iniperium in imperio, leading di 
rectly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war, and blood 
shed. . . . That the right to freedom being the gift of GOD ALMIGHTY, 
it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become 
a slave." " The colonists," they say, " have been branded with the odious 
names of traitors and rebels only for complaining of their grievances. 
How long such treatment uill or ought to be borne, is submitted." They enu 
merate, among their grievances, the revenue acts, the presence of stand 
ing armies and of hosts of officers for their enforcement; the rendering 

l See page 44. 



192 



the governor, judges, 1 and other officers, independent of the people by 
salaries from the crown, " which will, if accomplished, complete our 
slavery; " the instructions to the governor whereby he " is made merely 
a ministerial engine ; " the surrender of the provincial fortress, Castle 
William, to the troops, beyond the provincial control; the suspension of 
the New York Legislature "until they should quarter the British troops; " 
" the various attempts which have been made, and are now made, to 
establish an American Episcopate," though " no power on earth can 
justly give either temporal or spiritual jurisdiction within this province 
except the great and general court. " 

The report, with " a letter of correspondence," was printed and sent to 
" the selectmen of every town in the province." It was like the match to a 
well-laid train, and there burst forth from every quarter responses of such 
spirit and severity against " these mighty grievances and intolerable 
wrongs," the change in the state of affairs was " so sudden and unex 
pected," as to greatly alarm and perplex the governor, now helpless and 
friendless, and his subsequent controversies with the House only tended 
to strengthen the colonial cause. Virginia approved of all this; the system 
of correspondence was extended to the colonies, and laid the foundation 
of that union which resulted in the general congress at Philadelphia, in 
September, 1774. 

The report of the proceedings of the Boston town-meetings was reprinted 
in London in 1773, with a preface, written by Dr. Franklin, to expose the 
misrepresentations of Lord Dartmouth and the ministry, that the discon 
tented were only a faction, and to show that the true causes of discontent 
might be well understood. This greatly irritated the ministry. The 
discovery and publication, in 1773, of the confidential letters of Oliver, 
Hutchinson, and other " government " men, exasperated the people against 
the authors. Then followed the destruction of the tea in Boston harbor, 
and similar conduct in Philadelphia and New York; and the sequence 
was, the Boston Port Bill, which recited " That the opposition to the 
authority of Parliament had always originated in the colony of Massa 
chusetts, and that the colony itself had ever been instigated to such 
conduct by the seditious proceedings of the town of Boston." It de 
stroyed the commerce of the port. Many were distressed for the neces 
saries of life; but the act operated as a bond of sympathy between the 



l "No tyranny so secure, none ao intolerable, none so dangerous, none so 
remediless, as that of executive courts." Josiah Quincy. Jr., 1772. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 193 

colonies, and excited a feeling of brotherhood and union against England. 
General Gage arrived at Boston May 13, 1774, as commander-in-chief 
of the king s forces, and as Governor of Massachusetts. " The Episcopal 
clergy" and others addressed Governor Hutchinson, just before he sailed 
for England, June 1st, "expressing their approbation of his public conduct, 
and their affectionate wishes for his prosperity," though he was execrated 
by all others. On his arrival there he found that the ministry had 
adopted the policy advised in his letters of 1768-9, and annulled the 
charter, as to the executive and judicial powers, and thus he saw the ruin 
of his country, if it could be effected, the work of his own ingrati 
tude and selfish ambition. And, as if intended for a beacon, and an 
exemplar to the other colonies of the animus and real principles of their 
enemies, another act established in Canada the Papal Church and a civil 
despotism in harmony with the history and genius of that hierarchy. 

In one of their letters, the patriots say, " that a people long inured to 
hardships lose by degrees the very notions of liberty; they look upon 
themselves as creatures, at mercy, and that all impositions laid on by 
superior hands are legal and obligatory; so debased that they even rejoice 
at being subject to the caprice and arbitrary power of a tyrant, and kiss 
their chains. But, thank Heaven! this is not yet verified in America. We 
have yet some share of public virtue remaining. We are not afraid of 
poverty, but disdain slavery. The fate of nations is so precarious, and 
revolutions in states so often take place at an unexpected moment, when 
the hand of power has secured every avenue of retreat, and the mind of 
the subject so debased to its purpose, that it becomes every well-wisher 
to his country, while it has any remains of freedom, to keep an eagle 
eye upon every innovation and stretch of power in those that have the 
rule over us. . . . Let us disappoint the men who are raising themselves 
on the ruin of this country." 

The rapid course of events in 1774 electrified the Sons of Liberty. The 
arrogance of the ministry, and the severity and abruptness of their acts in 
Parliament, were met by a spirit of stern defiance, and there swept along 
the Atlantic shores of the American colonies such a chorus for liberty as 
was never heard before in national tragedy. The Provincial Congress, 
representatives of freemen, assembled now, not by virtue of paltry 
parchments from blasphemous "sacred Majesty," but by charter from 
the ALMIGHTY, to whom they make solemn appeal, "assumes every 
power of a legal government; for" says General Gage "their edicts 
are implicitly obeyed throughout the continent." They "resolve," and 

17 



194 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

the treasury is supplied; to their call for "immediate defence," minute- 
men, armed hosts, come with alacrity from peaceful life, the artisan from 
his shop, 1 the farmer from his plough, the fisherman from his shallop, 
the lawyer from his brief, the merchant from his ledger, and the chaplain 
from his parish from field and flood they proffer all for liberty, and mat 
ron and maid, with eager hands and hearts, help them to their holy duty. 

Dr. Joseph Warren wrote to Josiah Quincy in November, 1774 : " It is 
the united voice of America to preserve their freedom, or lose their lives 
in defence of it. Their resolutions are not the effects of inconsiderate 
rashness, but the sound result of sober inquiry and deliberation. I am 
convinced that the true spirit of liberty was never so universally diffused 
throughout all ranks and orders of people, in any country on the face of 
the earth, as it now is through all North America." Of the state docu 
ments of the General Congress at Philadelphia, Chatham, in the House 
of Lords, said: "For myself, I must declare and avow, that in all my 
reading and observation, I have read Thucydides, and have studied 
and admired the master states of the world, that for solidity of reason 
ing, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such complication 
of circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to 
the General Congress at Philadelphia." 

The Provincial Congress, assembled at the meeting-house in Concord, 
October 13, 1774, in a message to Governor Gage, signed by John Han 
cock, President, said, " that the sole end of government is protection and 
security of the people. Whenever, therefore, that power which was 
originally instituted to effect these important and valuable purposes is 

1 The Blacksmiths Convention of Worcester County, Massachusetts, November 
8, 1774, illustrates the fervid determination of the people. They resolved that, 
"deeply impressed with a sense of our duty to our country, paternal affection 
for our children and unborn millions, as also for our personal rights and lib 
erties, we solemnly covenant . . . that we will not ... do or perform any 
blacksmith s work, or business of any kind, . . . . for any person or persons 
.... commonly known by the name of tories, . . . mandamus coun 
sellors, . . . for every person who addressed Governor Hutchinson at his 
departure from this province; . . . all of whom should be held in contempt, 
and those who are connected with them ought to separate from them, laborers 
to shun their vineyards, merchants, husbandmen, and others, to withhold their 
commerce and supplies." This, signed by forty-three of the best men, with 
strong arms and great hearts, Ross WYMAN, of Shrewsbury, President, and 
TIMOTHY BIGELOW, of Worcester, Clerk, was widely distributed in handbills, 
and published in the newspapers. 

Lincoln s History of Worcester, chapters vi. ix., admirably illustrates the 
spirit of the Revolution. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 195 

employed to harass, distress, or enslave the people, in this case it becomes 
a curse rather than a blessing; .... and we request that yon imme 
diately desist from the fortress now constructing at the south entrance into 
the town of Boston, and restore the pass to its natural state." To which 
the governor answered: "The fortress, unless annoyed, will annoy no 
body; , . . and I warn you of the rock you are upon, and require you 
to desist from such illegal and unconstitutional proceedings." 

Letters of the famous tory churchman, Peters, of Connecticut, were 
laid on the President s table. One, dated September 28, said: "Six 
regiments are coming over from England, and sundry men-of-war. So 
soon as they come, HANGING WORK will go on. DESTRUCTION will 

attend first the seaport towns The lintel sprinkled on the 

sidepost will preserve the faithful," i. e., the Episcopalians. On the first 
of October he wrote to Rev. Dr. Auchmuty, of New York: "The" 
Episcopal " churches in Connecticut must fall a sacrifice, very soon, 
to the rage of the Puritan mobility, if the old serpent, that dragon, is not 
bound. . . . Spiritual iniquity rides in high places, with halberts, 
pistols, and swords. See the proclamation I sent you by my nephew, 
on their pious Sabbath day, the fourth of last month, when the preachers 
and magistrates left the pulpit, etc., for the gun and drum, and set off for 
Boston, cursing the king and Lord North, General Gage, the bishops and 
their cursed curates, and the Church of England." 

The occasion of the discourse appears in the following " Resolve recom 
mending to the people of this province" Massachusetts " to observe a 
day of public THANKSGIVING throughout the same," passed by the 
First Provincial Congress, held in the meeting-house, at Cambridge, 
October 22, 1774 : 

" From a consideration of the continuance of the gospel among us, and 
the smiles of Divine Providence upon us with regard to the seasons of the 
year, and the general health which has been enjoyed; and in particular, 
from a consideration of the union which so remarkably prevails, not only 
in this province, but throughout the continent, at this alarming crisis, it 
is resolved, as the sense of this Congress, that it is highly proper that a 
day of public thanksgiving should be observed throughout this province; 
and it is accordingly recommended to the several religious assemblies 
in the province, that Thursday, the fifteenth day of December next, be 
observed as a day of thanksgiving, to render thanks to Almighty God for 
all the blessings we enjoy. And, at the same time, we think it incumbent 
on this people to humble themselves before God, on account of their sins, 



196 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

for which he hath been pleased, in his righteous judgment, to suffer so 
great a calamity to befall us as the present controversy between Great 
Britain and the colonies; as also to implore the Divine blessing upon 
us, that, by the assistance of his grace, we may be enabled to reform 
whatever is amiss among us; that so God may be pleased to continue to 
us the blessings we enjoy, and remove the tokens of his displeasure, by 
causing harmony and union to be restored between Great Britain and 
these colonies, that we may again rejoice in the smiles of our sovereign, 
and in possession of those privileges which have been transmitted to us, 
and have the hopeful prospect that they shall be handed down entire 
to posterity under the Protestant succession in the illustrious House of 
Hanover. JOHN HANCOCK, PRESIDENT." 

The preacher, Mr. Gordon, born at Hitchin, in England, pastor of an 
Independent church at Ipswich, removed to America in 1770, and was 
ordained pastor of the Jamaica Plain Church, in Roxbury, July 6, 1772. 
" His soul was engaged in " the American cause. He was chaplain to the 
Provincial Congress; and several sermons on public occasions during the 
struggle show his zeal and prudence as a Son of Libei ty. He improved 
his excellent opportunities for fulness and fidelity in his "History of 
the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United 
States of America: including an account of the late war, and of the 
thirteen colonies from their origin to that period," first published in 
1788, a candid and impartial work, of. which there have been several 
editions. He returned to England in 1780, and died at Ipswich, October 
19, 1807, aged 77. Allibone, Allen. 

This sermon excited the indignation of " the king s friends," one of 
whom, "a friend to peace and good order," published "observations" 
upon it as "daring and treasonable, . . . absurd and impertinent, 
. . . a firebrand of sedition, . . . audacious and wicked;" so awful 
to "every honest man, every virtuous citizen," that " to let it pass disre 
garded would argue an inattention to the welfare of the public wholly 
inexcusable." " Where could this reverend politician, . . clerical 
disclaimer, . . Christian sower of sedition, . . notable empiric, 
. . warfaring priest, . . ordained leader, . . this church-militant 
general, . . have learnt to preach up doctrines of sedition, rebellion, 
carnage, and blood? Not, I am sure, from the merciful divulger of his 
religion, for he only taught the precepts of peace and forgiveness. . . . 
I most heartily wish, for the peace of America, that he and many others 
of his profession would confine themselves to gospel truths." 



DISCOURSE IV. 

A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 



IT IS OF THE LORD S MERCIES THAT WE ARE NOT CONSUMED, BECAUSE HIS 

COMPASSIONS FAIL NOT. Lam. iii. 22. 



THE pulpit is devoted, in general, to more important 
purposes than the fate of kingdoms, or the civil rights of 
human nature, being intended to recover men from the 
slavery of sin and Satan, to point out their escape from, 
future misery through faith in a crucified Jesus, and to 
assist them in their preparations for an eternal blessed 
ness. But still there are special times and seasons when 
it may treat of politics. And, surely, if it is allowable for 
some who occupy it, by preaching up the doctrines of 
non-resistance and passive obedience, 1 to vilify the prin 
ciples and to sap the foundations of that glorious revolu 
tion that exalted the House of Hanover to the British 
throne, it ought to be no transgression in others, nor to 
be construed into a want of loyalty, to speak consistently 
with those approved tenets that have made Qeorge the 
Third the first of European sovereigns, who otherwise, 

1 The publications of the period abound in such finger-points to these 
" missionaries," who were considered as simply ecclesiastical corps of 
sappers and miners, busy among the people, disguised as teachers of reli 
gion, disseminating doctrines subversive of liberty, and who were secrptly 
in heart as zealous for the British ministry as were their more honorable 
brethren, the chaplains of the mercenary armies, who took the hazards of 
open war. Perhaps the sacrifices of the former were the greater. ED. 

17* 



198 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

with all his personal 1 virtues, might have lived an obscure 
Elector. 

Having, then, the past morning of this provincial 
thanksgiving, accommodated the text to the case of indi 
viduals, I shall now dedicate it, according to its original 
intention, to the service of the public, the situation of 
whose affars is both distressing and alarming. 

The capital of the colony is barbarously treated, pre- 
tendedly for a crime, but actually for the noble stand she 
has made in favor of liberty against the partisans of sla 
very. She has distinguished herself by her animated oppo 
sition to arbitrary and unconstitutional proceedings, and 
therefore has been marked out, by ministerial vengeance, 1 



1 Official insolence and ignorance never received a quicker or more dig 
nified rebuke than in the united and decisive voice of the colonies for 
Boston and against the ministry. In the debates on the Boston bills, Col. 
Barre said to the ministry: "You point all your revenge at Boston alone; 
but I think you will very soon have the rest of the colonies on your back." 
Salem nobly resented and refused the proffered bribe of the diverted com 
merce of Boston to her port. The newspapers published numerous ac 
knowledgments of such substantial tokens of " aid and comfort" as this: 
"On Tuesday morning last came to town," Boston, "from Marble- 
head, eight cart-loads of salt fish ; a generous donation from our sympa 
thizing brethren of that small town." 

The people of Massachusetts refusing any supplies for the British 
troops, Gen. Gage sent a vessel to Baltimore for a load of flour, for 
blankets, etc., but "the committee of correspondence of that place re 
fused to furnish any of the articles until they heard from the General Con 
gress, where they had sent an express to receive directions how they 
should act on the occasion;" yet that same committee were then freely 
contributing to. the necessities of the Boston patriots. Poor Gage s sup 
plies from England and elsewhere were intercepted and captured by 
"Yankee" privateers, and he was often reduced to predatory incursions. 

A letter from Alexandria, Virginia, of July Gth, 1774, said: "All Vir 
ginia and Maryland are contributing for the relief of Boston, of those 
who, by the late cruel act of Parliament, arc deprived of their daily 
labor and bread, to prevent the inhabitants sinking under the oppres 
sion, or migrating, to keep up that manly spirit that has made them dear 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 199 

to be made an example of, whereby to terrify other Amer 
ican cities into a tame submission. She is an example, 
and, thanks to Heaven ! an example of patience and forti- 

to every American." Enclosed was a list of the cargo of "Schooner 
Nassau," corn, flour, wheat, etc., " consigned to the Hon. John Han 
cock and James Bowdoin, Esqrs., Mr. Samuel Adams, Isaac Smith, Esq., 
and the Gentlemen Committee " of Boston, for distribution. The " Ga 
zette/ which published this letter, says : " Every part of this extensive 
continent, so far as we have yet heard, appears to be deeply interested in 
the fate of this unhappy town. Many and great are the donations we 
have already received, and many more we have good reason to expect." 
The same paper contains "Resolutions unanimously entered into by the 
Inhabitants of South Carolina, at a General Meeting held at Charlestown," 
in July, 1774, which declare " that not only the dictates of humanity, but 
the soundest principles of true policy and self-preservation, make it 
necessary for the inhabitants of all the colonies in America to assist and 
support the people of Boston." 

Now was to be realized the splendid thought of the Rev. Dr. Mayhew s 
"Lord s-day Morning" meditations 1 "a communion of the colonies." 
" Letters of friendship and regard a desire to cement and perpetuate 
union among ourselves " flew like winged messengers of love from col 
ony to colony, and from heart to heart; and on the seventh of October, 
1774, George III. saw, not Boston and Massachusetts crushed beneath his 
German foot, not the fratricidal discord of base men in sordid haste to 
fatten upon the ruin of sister colonies despoiled by despotism, for so 
low was his avowed policy, and so brutal the hope of his kingly breast; 
but, thank God! there was too little of Oxford " obedience," and too few 
of its minions in America, for such thrift; he saw not that, but a Conti 
nental Congress in session at Philadelphia, composed of " the representa 
tives of his Majesty s faithful subjects in all the colonies from Nova Sco 
tia to Georgia" a new power in the world. Their committee Thomas 
Lynch, of South Carolina, Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, and Edmund 
Pendlcton, of Virginia prepared a letter to Gen. Gage, representing " that 
the town of Boston and province of Massachusetts Bay are considered by 
all America as suffering in the common cause for their noble and spirited 
opposition to oppressive acts of Parliament, calculated to deprive us of 
our most sacred rights and privileges," and remonstrating against his 
hostile military preparations in that town. His Majesty called them 
" rebels," and they soon declared and proved themselves to be neither 
subjects nor rebels, but a free people. ED. 

1 See his letter on pages 44,45. 



200 A THANKSGIVING SERMON 



tude, to the no small mortification of her enemies, whose 
own base feelings led them to imagine that she would 
immediately become an abject supplicant for royal favor, 
though at the expense of natural and chartered rights. 
May some future historian, the friend of mankind and 
citizen of the world, have to record in his faithful and 
ever-living page that she never truckled, though British 
sailors and soldiers, contrary to their natural affection for 
the cause of liberty, were basely employed to intimidate 
her, but perseveringly held out through the fiery trial till 
a revolution of men and measures brought on her deliver 
ance ! 

But it is not the capital alone that suffers. The late 
venal Parliament, in compliance with the directions of 
administration, have, under the false color of regulating 
the government of the colony, mutilated its charter, and 
conveyed dangerous powers to individuals for the enforc 
ing and maintaining those encroachments that they have 
ventured, in defiance of common equity, to make upon the 
rights of a free people ; and had not the calmness and 
prudence of others supplied their lack of wisdom, the 
country might by this time have become an Aceldama.* 



a I take this opportunity of making my public acknowledgments to his Excel 
lency the governor for not having precipitated the country into a civil war an 
event which, as appears by his letter,! he ardently wishes may never exist. 
Should the continent be exercised with so great an evil, I promise myself, from 
the known humanity the constant attendant of true bravery the known hu 
manity of the British officers and troops, that they will not add barbarity to 
the unavoidable calamities of war. But should any hellish policy order its being 
done, the colonies, tis to be supposed, will dread all less than slavery to those 
cruel masters that can issue such savage edicts. 

i General Gage, in his reply of October 20th, 1774, to the letter of the 
Continental Congress just cited, wrote: "I ardently wish that the com 
mon enemies to both countries may see, to their disappointment, that 
these disputes between the mother country and the colonies have termi 
nated like the quarrels of lovers, and increased the affection which they 
ought to bear to each other." ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 201 

Upon the principles which the British Legislature have 
adopted, in their late extraordinary proceedings, I see not 
how we can be certain of any one privilege, nor what hin 
ders our being really in a state of slavery to an aggregate 
of masters, whose tyranny may be worse than that of a 
single despot ; nor that a man can with propriety say his 
soul is his own, and not the spring to move his bodily 
machine in the performance of whatever drudgery his 
lords may appoint; nor that the public have a permanent 
and valuable constitution. If the British Legislature is the 
constitution, or superior to the constitution, Magna Charta, 
the Bill of Rights, and the Protestant Succession, these 
boasts of Britons are toys to please the vulgar, and not 
solid securities. 

The operation of the late unconstitutional acts of the 
British Parliament would not only deprive the colony of 
invaluable privileges, but introduce a train of evils little 
expected by the generality, and give the British ministry 
such an ascendency in all public affidrs as would be to the 
last dangerous/ 

a In support of this paragraph I shall quote the following passages from the 
protest of the Lords against the regulating act, viz. : 

" The new constitution of judicature provided by this bill is improper and 
incongruous with the plan of the administration of justice in Great Britain. 

" The Governor and Council, thus instituted with powers with which the British 
constitution has not trusted his Majesty and his privy-council, have the means 
of returning such a jury in each particular cause as may best suit with the grati 
fication of their passions and interests. The lives, liberties, and properties of the 
subject are put into their hands without control, and the invaluable right of 
trial by jury is turned into a snare for the people, who have hitherto looked upon 
it as their main security against the licentiousness of power. 

" We see in this bill the same scheme of strengthening the authority of the 
officers and ministers of state, at the expense of the rights and liberties of the 
subject, which was indicated by the inauspicious act for shutting up the harbor 
of Boston. 

" By that act, which is immediately connected with this bill, the example was 
set of a large, important city (containing vast multitudes of people, many of 
whom must be innocent, and all of whom are unheard), by an arbitrary sentence, 
deprived of the advantage of that port upon which all their means of livelihood 
did immediately depend. 

"This proscription is not made determinable on the payment of a line for an 



202 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

The spirited behavior of the country, under these inno 
vations, has charmed arid affrighted numbers, and, should 

offence, or a compensation for an injury, but is to continue until the ministers of 
the crown shall think n t to advise the king in council to revoke it. 

" The legal condition of the subject (standing unattainted by conviction for 
treason or felony) ought never to depend upon the arbitrary will of any person 
whatsoever." 

I would add, also, the clause in the regulating act respecting town meetings * 
leaves it in the power of a governor to prevent them all at pleasure, those only 
excepted for the choice of town officers in March, and for the choice of repre 
sentatives. Neither the most trifling nor the most important business can be 
legally transacted, so as to be binding upon the inhabitants, even in the most 
distant towns of the government, without leave first had and obtained of the 
governor, in writing, expressing such special business, though.it should happen 
that if not done within less time than necessary for the obtaining of that leave 
it cannot be done at all. The townsmen can neither lay out a new road nor 
raise moneys for mending an old one, nor can they settle a minister, without 
obtaining the express written leave of the governor. Yea, they are forbid so 
much as to talk; for they are not to treat of any other matter at their March 
meeting except the election of their officers, nor at any other meeting except the 
business expressed in the leave given by the governor, or, in his absence, by the 
lieutenant-governor If this is not to establish slavery by legislative authority, 
I beg to know what is. The arbitrary mandates of the grand monarch, enjoin 
ing his slaves silence when state affairs are disagreeable to the public, will scarce 
be thought by many so great an attack upon the rights of mankind, as an at 
tempt to perpetuate something of the like nature by a permanent law. Should 
the favorite of a governor have embezzled the town s money, how shall a meet 
ing be obtained to vote and order a prosecution against him? Should a candi 
date be reported as a warm friend to the liberties of the people, how shall leave 
be had for his being settled, though unanimously approved of and admired? 
Should an oppressed town be desirous of stating its grievances and praying a 
redress, how shall the inhabitants do it in a corporate capacity, should the com- 
mander-in-chief be prejudiced against them? Should the electors be inclined to 
instruct their representatives upon matters of the highest concern to them, how 
shall they do it without violating the law, when the ruler s interest prevents his 
giving them leave? A thousand other events are made to depend upon the arbi 
trary will of a governor by the clause before us. And why are all the towns 
of the colony to be reduced to such a slavish dependence? Because, as the Brit 
ish legislative asserts, "a great abuse has been made of calling town meetings, 
and the inhabitants have, contrary to the design of their institution, been misled 
to treat upon matters of the most general concern, and to pass many dangerous 
and unwarrantable resolves." Oh, abominable! that a people should be de 
prived of their precious and long-enjoyed liberties, not for any wilfully perverse 
known crime, but because of their being foolishly misled. Why did not the wise 
ministry ease themselves of the opposition given them by the city of London, by 

i The towns were so many commonwealths, petty democracies, and the 
British ministers could not have adopted any device which would more 
keenly touch the people than this interference with their wonted assem 
blies. ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 203 

it be continued with prudence, urn-emitted zeal, and true 
fortitude, will produce monuments of praise, more lasting 
than brass, even though it should not prove successful, 
which is scarce supposable. 

The distresses that the late acts have already occa 
sioned are many and great, and too well known to require 
an enumeration ; and yet, could we be secure of a speedy 
relief in the permanent redress of our grievances, we 
should soon forget them. But we have our fears lest they 
should be only the beginning of sorrows, and are in doubt 
whether we pay not be called to experience the horrors 
of a civil war, unless we will disgrace our descent, meanly 
submit to the loss of our privileges, and leave to posterity 
the many millions that shall people this continent in 
less than a century bonds and fetters. 

The important day is now arrived that must determine 
whether we shall remain free, or, alas ! be brought into 
bondage, after having long enjoyed the sweets of liberty. 
The event will probably be such as is our ow r n conduct. 
Will we conform to the once exploded but again courtly 
doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance, rather 
than hazard life and property we may have the honor 
of burning under the heats of summer and freezing under 
the colds of winter in providing for the luxurious entertain 
ment of lazy, proud, worthless pensioners and placemen. 51 



a like regulation of their charter, upon the ground of the citizens having been 
misled? Why do they not. upon the same ground, prevent all corporation and 
county meetings in Great Britain, that so they may not be pestered with any 
future petitions or remonstrances? But, should the operation of the regulating 
act be secured, who can tell how long it will be ere the British legislative will 
assign the solid reason of having been misled to treat upon matters of the most 
general concern, and to pass many dangerous and unwarrantable resolves for 
suspending all the American assemblies, or, at least, for reducing the members 
of each to the more convenient number of the Yorkers? 

I decline, as wholly unnecessary, all remarks upon the miscalled act for the 
impartial administration of justice, etc. 

a There are some honorable exceptions to this general intimation, but they are 



204 



Will we make our appeal to Heaven against the in 
tended oppression venture all upon the noble principles 
that brought the House of Hanover into the possession of 
the British diadem, and not fear to bleed freely in the 
cause, not of a particular people, but of mankind in gen 
eral we shall be likely to transmit to future generations, 
though the country should be wasted by the sword, the 
most essential part of the fair patrimony received from 
our brave and hardy progenitors the right of possessing 
and of disposing of, at our own option, the honest fruits 
of our industry. However, it is alarming to think that, 
through the mistaken policy of Great Britain, and the ab 
surd notion of persisting in wrong measures for the honor 
of government, we may be obliged to pass through those 
difficulties, and to behold those scenes, and engage in 
those services that are shocking to humanity, and would 
be intolerable but for the hope of preserving and perpet 
uating our liberties. Our trade ruined, our plantations 



so few that they can save themselves only, and not the list, from deserved re 
proach. 

In the year 1697 the pensions amounted only to seven thousand and seventy- 
seven pounds sterling, but in the year 1705 they amounted to eighteen thousand 
one hundred and eleven pounds. Since then they have increased to a most 
enormous sum. A late publication informs us that about ten years back there 
was a million of debt contracted on the sixpence per pound tax laid on pensions. 
The interest of a million at four per cent, being forty thousand pounds per an 
num, the pensions, to have answered for it, must have amounted to one million 
six hundred thousand pounds per annum; if at three per cent., to one million 
two hundred thousand. There might, possibly, have been a deficiency in this 
fund; but it cannot be thought that the financier would have proposed it had it 
been very considerably deficient. 

I heartily wish that some who have leisure, and can procure the necessary 
materials, would inform the public, as near as possible, what sums are exhausted 
by places and pensions. As to the numerous expenditures in the secret services 
of rewards, bribery and corruption, jobs and contracts, they must remain among 
the arcana imperil. But, were a virtuous, patriotic administration to close a41 
those unnecessary drains whereby the wealth of Great Britain is carried off, they 
would, in a few years of peace, greatly reduce the national debt, and have no 
temptation to gull the people under a pretence of easing them by American 
taxes, when they design only to provide for their numerous dependents, and to 
increase the power of the crown, alias the ministry. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 205 

trodden down, our cattle slain or taken away, our property 
plundered, our dwellings in flames, our families insulted 
and abused, our friends and relatives wallowing and our 
own garments rolled in blood, are calamities that we are 
not accustomed to, and that we cannot realize but with 
the utmost pain ; and yet we must expect more or less of 
these should we be compelled to betake ourselves to the 
sword in behalf of our rights. It is not a little grievous 
to be alarmed with the apprehension of such severe trials, 
unless we will in our conduct resemble those simple ones 
that, for the sake of indulging themselves in present ease 
and plenty, barter away their whole interest in future hap 
piness.* 

But, though the situation of our public affairs is both 
distressing and alarming, it is by far better than we have 
deserved from the Sovereign of the universe ; it would 
have been much worse had we been dealt with according 
to our demerits. " It is of the Lord s mercies that we are 
not consumed ; because his compassions fail not." Some 
may, at first hearing, object against this, as being too strong 
an expression, and may think, considering the morals of the 
people when compared with the inhabitants of other places, 
that it is misapplied. I am ready to allow that the morals 
of this people, taken collectively, are superior to those of 
other places, Connecticut excepted, where, I suppose, 
they are nearly the same, whether in the New or the 
Old World, all things considered ; and I cannot but view 



a It may be objected that the points in dispute are too trifling to justify the 
hazard of such severe trials. It will be answered that it is the principles the con 
tinent is opposing in its attempts to prevent the establishment^ precedents. 
The real dispute is, whether the long-enjoyed constitution of these American 
colonies, when they are not consenting to it, shall be liable to every alteration 
that a legislative three thousand miles off shall think convenient and profitable 
to themselves, and whether a House of Commons at that distance, to which they 
neither do nor can send a single representative, shall dispose of their property 
at pleasure. Obstaprincipiis. 

18 



206 



as i strong proof hereof the order that prevails through 
the country now that the execution of the laws, because 
of the peculiarity of the times, is suspended. And yet, 
after all, I must hold to the text ; and, that we may be 
fully convinced, and be duly aifected with the truth of it, 
shall make some remarks upon this people considered as 
the subjects of God s moral government. 

I. In the first place, I remark, that the prevalency of 
any vices and immoralities among this people must be 
peculiarly provoking. 

Circumstances aggravate or alleviate the crimes of soci 
eties no less than of single persons; and far more and 
other is expected from some than from many others in a 
very different situation and condition. 

1 The ministry sought not only " to beggar the colonies into submis 
sion" by ruinous restraints on trade, but to reduce them to anarchy by 
paralyzing their governments, whose life was supposed to emanate from 
the crown, and then necessity would compel submission; but the result 
astonished all. New governments sprang directly from the people, and 
the people obeyed. " Obedience is what makes government," said Burke, 
commenting on this phenomenon, " and not the names by which it is 
called; not the name of governor, as formerly, or committee, as at pres 
ent. . . . We wholly abrogated the ancient government of Massachu 
setts. We were confident that the first feeling, if not the very prospect of 
anarchy, would instantly enforce a complete submission. The experiment 
was tried. A new, strange, unexpected face of things appeared. An 
archy is found tolerable. A vast province has now subsisted, and sub 
sisted in a considerable degree of health and vigor, for nearly a twelve 
month, without governor, without public council, without judges, without 
executive magistrates. ... In effect, we sutfcr as much at home by 
this loosening of all ties, arid this concussion of all established opinions, as 
we do abroad. For, in order to prove that the Americans have no right 
to their liberties, we are every day endeavoring to subvert the maxims 
which preserve the whole spirit of our own. To prove that the Americans 
ought not to be free, we are obliged to depreciate the value of freedom 
itself; and we never seem to gain a paltry advantage over them in debate 
without attacking some of those principles, or deriding some of those feel 
ings, for which our ancestors have shed their blood." ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 207 

Now, it should be remembered that this is but a young 
people, not a hundred and fifty years old ; for they were 
not a people for the few first years of their settlement in 
this wilderness no more than a small company, who must 
have soon perished by the hands of the native Indians had 
not God interposed. Their youth is an aggravation to the 
crimes committed by them. For a young person to be 
given to vice, though he has a corrupted nature the same 
as others, is highly offensive : we look for a decent, modest, 
and orderly behavior in him. 

In like manner a young state should be pure in its 
morals; should be addicted to no particular vices; should 
observe the utmost regularity of behavior, and should not 
even think of, much less practise, the crimes too generally 
to be met with in countries of long standing, when at 
tained to their height in power and affluence. There is 
an utter unfit-ness in the former s attempting to imitate the 
latter. Can we say that this rising young state is clear as 
to this matter; that it has not copied the corrupt manners 
of its aged parent ; and that it hath not its particular vices 
that are a reproach to it ? However willing we may be, 
through self-love and native fondness, to apologize for it, 
we cannot conscientiously pronounce it not guilty while 
we know how notorious intemperance, uncleanness, luxury, 
and irreligion are among us. 

But another thing that makes the vices and immoralities 
of this people peculiarly provoking is, their descent and 
education. The sins of a youth descended from pious 
parents, who has had good examples set him, and who has 
been carefully educated, are worse than those of a common 
youth that has not enjoyed such advantages. 

Now, the ancestors of this people were eminently godly ; 
it was the strength of their zeal for true, unadulterated 
religion, and the ardor of their love to God and Christ, 



208 



that prevailed upon them to venture over the great deep, 
and to seek an abode in this then inhospitable and danger 
ous country, and that reconciled them to the numberless 
difficulties that they had long to encounter without ever 
attaining to the various comforts that we enjoy. They 
were concerned to perpetuate the same spirit of piety 
which they were actuated by ; paid great attention to the 
rising generation, and wisely provided for the good instruc 
tion of succeeding ones. Wherein can we charge them 
with want either of wisdom or faithfulness to posterity? 
Do we not still reap the fruits of their contrivance and 
foresight, though not in so ample a manner as might be, 
through our own faultiness ? Judge ye, what could have 
been done more through their instrumentality for this part 
of the Lord s vineyard than what has been done? Where 
fore, then, hath it brought forth so many wild and bad 
grapes, when it should have yielded the choicest fruit? 
Is not this people strangely degenerated, so as to possess 
but a faint resemblance of that godliness for which their 
forefathers were eminent ? And could these last appear 
for a while again in this colony, with the common passions 
and sentiments of human nature, would they not stand 
amazed at the sinfulness of the present generation, and 
be ready to disown them for their posterity? Is it -not 
another generation of professors, very different both as to 
sentiments and practice from that which, by their emigra 
tions for conscience sake, first planted the gospel in New 
England? Would not the like zeal for the leading doc 
trines of Christianity, and the like strictness in morals that 
prevailed in the first settlers, be severely censured and be 
stigmatized by some reproachful epithet, as in their day, 
by the generality among us, though through the spirit of 
the times the persecution might not be more than that of 
the tongue? They that will divest themselves of preju- 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 209 

dice, and judge impartially, will be obliged, I apprehend, 
to acknowledge that this people do not answer to the hon- 
orableness of their descent, any more than to the care that 
was taken by their predecessors for their being well edu 
cated in the principles and practices of religion ; the full 
benefit of which care though they may not enjoy, through 
the censurable faultiness of some in neglecting their duty, 
yet is so far enjoyed as that people in general, including 
all ranks, are not better instructed and educated anywhere, 
it is probable, than in this country. But certainly the 
more honorable their religious descent, and the better their 
education, the more provoking must their vices and immo 
ralities be ; and nothing can be more worthy of their par 
ticular consideration, especially in these threatening times, 
than those words in Amos iii. 2, wherein the Lord ad 
dresses the children of Israel, saying: "You only have I 
known of all the families of the earth ; therefore I will 
punish you for all your iniquities." I might add more 
particulars to this first remark, but choose to make them 
distinct ones of themselves. 

II. I therefore proceed to mention, in the second place, 
that the obligations this people are under to holiness are 
special, from the many appearances of God in their favor, 
and his having so multiplied and exalted them. 

How oft has the Supreme Governor of the universe 
wonderfully, next to miraculously, interposed for their 
deliverance when in the utmost danger! Their enemies 
expected to swallow them up, and were upon the point 
of doing it, when Providence hath critically interposed, so 
that they have escaped like a bird out of a snare that has 
been thrown over it. When their eagerness to cooperate 
With the parent state, in reducing the power of the com 
mon enemy, led them into a bold and dangerous enter 
prise, in which, if they had miscarried, they would have 

18* 



210 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

been subject to an almost irreparable damage, and which 
must have miscarried, according to the usual course of 
human and military affairs, had not special events, carry 
ing in them the evident marks of providential appoint 
ment, 1 though in the account of the unbeliever purely 
casual, I say, which must have miscarried had not special 
events turned up, it pleased God to order the existence 
of them, and, by crowning the expedition with success, not 
only to avert the train of evils that must otherwise have 
followed, but to give this people, then indeed in their in 
fancy, a ]VAME 2 among the warlike veteran states of Europe, 
and to show the world what a few raw provincials could 
do, under the smiles and care of Heaven, against fortifica 
tions and batteries really strong, and defended by regulars, 
though not by Britons. May they never lose that name, nor 
blast the laurels gained at Louisburg by any future cow 
ardly conduct, when it is not conquest, but liberty and 
property, that are at stake ! 

God hath not only appeared for this people, but hath 
greatly multiplied and exalted them. They were at first 
a few men in number, yea, very few, and strangers in the 
land. They came from a well-cultivated kingdom to a 
savage people and a wild country, enough to discourage 
the stoutest. However, they ventured to take up their 



1 The French ship Vigilant, of sixty-four guns, and six hundred men, 
when within two hours sail of Louisburg, Cape Breton, May 19th, was led 
off in pursuit of smaller craft, and captured. Her arrival would have been 
fatal to the enterprise. The New England men, being in want of balls, were 
supplied by those sent by the French guns, which they put into their own 
cannon, and fired back again. Prince s Thanksgiving Sermon, 1745; Par- 
sons s Life of Sir Wm. Pepperell, Bart. ED. 

2 Perhaps the capture of Louisburg, in 1745, as a proof of the military 
prowess of New England, may be taken as the point of time when the 
colonies became conscious of their strength, and when England became 
jealous of their dependence. ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 211 

abode in it, and, through the original blessing of Heaven 
upon them, which, perhaps, never displayed itself and 
wrought more effectually, except in the instance of the 
Jews, they are become a considerable nation, 1 possess a 
tolerable share of wealth, and would enjoy much public 
happiness were the painful disputes between them and the 
parent country comfortably terminated. The face of the 
colony is not less changed for the better since first settled 
than what is set forth in the language of Isaiah s prophecy: 
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; the 
desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blos 
som abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; 
the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it ; the excel 
lency of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of 
the Lord, and the excellency of our God." a These enumer 
ated are special obligations on this people to holiness. But 
does their holiness correspond with them ? Are the fruits 
yielded by them suited to such benefits? Are they that 
manner of people that might have been expected, and that 
they engaged to be when under difficulties, and in great 
perplexity through threatening appearances ? or have 
they not, like the Jews of old, after singing the divine 
praises, forgot the works of God and the wonders he hath 
showed them ? And hath not the cast of their after-con 
duct evidenced that, in renewing their engagements with 

a Isaiah xxxv. 1, 2. 

1 An estimate, made in 1775, by the American Congress : 

State. People. State. People. 

Massachusetts, . . . 400,000 Pennsylvania, . . . 350,000 

New Hampshire, . . 150,000 Maryland, . . . 320,000 

Rhode Island, . . . 59,678 Virginia, . 650,000 

Connecticut, -. . . 192,000 North Carolina, . . 300,000 

New York,, / . . 250,000 South Carolina, . . 225,000 

New Jersey, . . . 130,000 TO^ . . . 3,026,678 

ED. 



212 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

him in the clay of their affliction, "they did flatter him with 
their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongues; and 
that their heart was not right with him ; " for " they have 
not been steadfast in his covenant," have not walked agree 
able to the design and purport of God s covenant of grace, 
with which they have in much mercy been made ac 
quainted. 

III. I shall now remark, in the third and last place, that 
though the appearances of religion among this people are 
great and many, yet it is to be feared that real religion is 
scarce, that the power of godliness is rare, and that while 
there is much outward show of respect to the Deity, there 
is but little inward heart conformity to him. 

Individuals are justly entitled to the benefit of an excep 
tion, notwithstanding which it may be applied with too 
much truth to the community as a body, "This people 
draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth 
me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." a What 
is religion, with the generality, more than being baptized, 
attending public worship statedly on the Lord s day, own 
ing the covenant, coming to the Lord s table, and then 
being orderly in the outward deportment ? If, besides all 
now mentioned, there is a strict attendance upon private 
prayer, and the further addition of family, though the 
prayers shall consist of nothing more than the repeating 
of a certain set of words that the tongue has been habitu 
ated to, the goodness of such religion must not be ques 
tioned, though not proceeding from a work of regenera 
tion, not produced originally by any special influences of 
the Holy Spirit, not accompanied with any saving illumi 
nations from above, with any spiritual view of the divine 
glories, any true hatred to sin, any sense of the beauty of 
holiness, any soul-sanctifying love to God and the Lord 

a Matthew xv. 8. 






PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 213 

Jesus. Is there not a great though unhappy affinity be 
tween the case of this people, religiously considered, and 
that of the Laodicean church, as described by the Alpha 
and Omega in Revelation iii. 15 18? 

The above remarks upon this people, considered as the 
subjects of God s moral government, being duly weighed, 
shall we not be brought to own with humility and grati 
tude that it is of the Lord s mercies that we are not con 
sumed, because his compassions fail not? As yet we are 
not consumed. 

Though, when we look down from the adjoining hills, 
and behold the capital, we cannot but lament, saying, 
" How is the gold become dim ! how is the most fine gold 
changed ! how does her port mourn, because her shipping 
come not to her as formerly ; all her wharves are deso 
late ; how is she possessed and surrounded by an armed 
force, as though in the hands of an enemy ! yet, blessed 
be God, she doth not sit solitary; she is full of people; 
she is honorable among the nations ; she is as a princess 
among the provinces, seeing that she hath not meanly 
become tributary. She weepeth sore in the night, and 
her tears are on her cheeks ; but, like beauty in distress, 
she is the more engaging. She hath many lovers to com 
fort her, and her friends have not dealt treacherously with 
her, so far from having become her enemies. Her inhabit 
ants are suffering, but not starving. Her priests and her 
elders have not given up the ghost while seeking meat 
to relieve their soul. The tongue of the sucking child 
cleaveth not to the roof of his mouth for thirst. The 
young children ask not bread without any man s offering 
to break it unto them. We see not her dwellings and 
public buildings, both civil and sacred, in flames, and the 
whole becoming, by a speedy destruction, a horrid heap 
of ruins." 



214 



Though, when we survey the country, we bemoan the 
attempts that have been made upon the ancient founda 
tions of its civil government, which, if successful, will in all 
probability, after a time, undermine and destroy its reli 
gious liberties ; yet we are thankful that no dwelling has 
been destroyed, that none of any party have as yet 
perished by the shocks they have occasioned in the state, 
that the sword hath not been commissioned by Heaven 
to destroy, and the way to an accommodation been ren 
dered still more inaccessible through the shedding of 
blood. We adore the goodness of God, which has kept 
us from being consumed by the ravages of war. It is 
of the Lord s mercies that we are not consumed, because 
his compassions fail not. And much more so that, in the 
distressing and alarming situation of our public affairs, 
there have been so many favorable circumstances to pre 
serve us from fainting, to hearten us up, and to encourage 
our hopes in expecting that we shall at length, in the 
exercise of prudence, fortitude, arid piety, get well through 
our difficulties. 

Here allow me to run through a brief summary of these 
favorable circumstances, composed of the following par 
ticulars : The rising and growing consistency of sentiments 
in the friends of liberty, which hath led one assembly and 
another on this continent to attempt preventing the fur 
ther introduction of slaves 1 among them, though herein 

1 One of the carticlcs of the " American Association," formed by the 
Congress at Philadelphia, in September, pledged entire abstinence from 
the slave trade, and from any trade with those concerned in it. The pre 
vailing sentiment was expressed by Mr. Jefferson in the original draft of 
the Declaration of Independence : " Determined to keep open a market 
where MEN should be bought and sold, he" George III. "has pros 
tituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or 
restrain this execrable commerce." On the ministerial plan to excite a 
slave insurrection, Mr. Burke said, 1774: "An offer of freedom from Eng- 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 215 

they have been counteracted by governors, and which 
the American Congress has with so much wisdom and 
justice adopted ; the increasing acquaintance with the 
rights of conscience in matters of religion, as belonging 
equally alike to men of all parties and denominations, 
while they conduct as good members of civil society, with 
out endeavoring to injure their neighbors of different or 
opposite sentiments ; the blundering policy of the British 
ministry in giving so cruel a cast to the Boston Port Bill, 
taking away by it private property, and subjecting its res 
titution to the pleasure of the sovereign ; in following that 
so hastily with other acts, equally unjust and more exten 
sively pernicious, affecting the whole colony, and built 
upon principles and claims that rendered every dwelling, 
plantation, and right through the continent precarious, 
dependent on the will of the Parliament, or, rather, of the 
junto or individual that hath the power of managing it ; 
in declaring openly, while supporting the bills, that their 
design was not against a single town or colony, but against 
all America ; in presuming that the other towns and colo 
nies, upon receiving the dreadful news, would turn pale 
and tremble, conceal their spirit of resentment and oppo 
sition in sneaking professions of tame submission, and 
abandon the distressed, though their own ruin must have 
followed upon it, however slowly ; and, upon such pre 
sumption, neglecting to divide in time the different colo 
nies by flattering promises suited to their several situa 
tions, and by secret purchases, ere they could form a 
general union; the reestablishment of arbitrary power and 

land would come rather oddly, shipped to them " the slaves " in an 
African vessel, which is refused an entry into the ports of Virginia or Carolina 
with a cargo of three Angola negroes. It would be curious to sec the Guinea 
captain attempting at the same instant to publish his proclamation of lib 
erty and to advertise his sale of slaves." ED. 



216 



a despotic government in a most extensive and purposely 
enlarged country, 1 contrary to the royal declaration given 
a few years before, qualified somewhat to the inhabitants 
by that formal security of their religious liberty which 
was noways wanting, but, as is generally, I fear justly 
taught, with the base, diabolical design of procuring their 
assistance, if required, in quelling the spirit of freedom 
among the natural arid loyal subjects of Great Britain; 11 



a I have no objection to the Canadians being fully secured in the enjoyment 
of their religion, however erroneous and anti-Christian it may appear to me as a 
Protestant, but to the British legislative s not having given a universal estab 
lishment to the rights of conscience among them. The rights of conscience are 
too sacred for any civil power on earth to interdict, wherein they produce not 
overt acts against the necessary and essential rights of civil society. J say neces 
sary and essential, to guard against the reasonings of interested, designing priests 
of every denomination, who are for forming unnatural alliances between church 
and state, the sword of the Spirit and the sword of the magistrate. Arguments 
drawn from the ancient Jewish theocracy are of no avail till the existence of a 
Christian theocracy is proved, in direct opposition to the words of our great 
Leader, who has said, " My kingdom is hot of this world." 

Should the necessity of our affairs convene another congress, hope, among 
other things, it will be agreed upon, as the proper solid basis for the firmest and 
most extensive union, that every colony should retain, while the majority of it 
are so pleased, whatever is its prevailing form of religion, and admit of a uni 
versal toleration to all other persuasions, whether professors of Christianity or 
not. 

Twas a special pleasure to me, on my first arrival in America [in 1770], 
among the friendly 1 hiladelphians, to observe how Papists, Episcopalians, Mo 
ravians, Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists, and Quakers, could pass each other 
peaceably and in good temper on the Sabbath, after having broke up their re 
spective assemblies, which 1 could not but take notice of in an early letter to my 
native country, 

Jt may be said that, notwithstanding this apparent regard for the rights of 
conscience, I am really unfriendly to them unless I will admit of an American 
episcopate. Though some may be prejudiced against it from the fibbing, ran 
corous, and abusive opposition that certain D.D. s are continually making to 
measures for preserving the civil rights of this continent (whose conduct I can 
easily account for, and who have doubtless received intelligence, as well as my 
self, that the design of sending a bishop to America, as soon as circumstances will 
permit, is certainly kept in view, and that is intended for the see; and men 

1 This was one of the " causes " set forth in the Declaration of Inde 
pendence : " For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbor 
ing province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging 
its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for 
introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies." ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 217 

the speedy arrival of the Port Bill in the common way of 
conveyance, whereby some difficulties were avoided and 
some advantages enjoyed, while administration was not so 
merciful as to attempt giving us the earliest intelligence 



whose ambitious hopes of a deanery, arch-deaconship, or crosier, are likely to 
be disappointed by the public manoeuvres in favor of liberty, will be out of 
humor, and should be patiently borne with, though they vent their spleen against 
liberty itself), yet the rights of Episcopalians are not thereby forfeited, and 
whenever the majority of them, laity included (and not a few of the leading 
clergy, who are for more homage than the present equality admits), are desirous 
of an American episcopate, and will see to its being with security that the bishop 
and every other dignitary shall be confined purely to spiritual matters, shall 
have no more rule in civil concerns than the parochial priest, shall be maintained 
by no kind of tax, but by voluntary contributions, or from legacies given a 
full year before the death of a testator when coming out of a real estate, and 
shall be deprived of all power to injure or interrupt other denominations, let 
them be gratified. It will have a good effect, and will prevent our young men s 
making a trip to England for orders, which generally proves dangerous to their 
love of freedom. But it will be long enough ere some who have been arduously 
laboring to establish a Protestant American episcopate will, with all their con 
scientious attachment to and zeal for it, agree to its existence in this !New World 
upon such equitable conditions, as may be inferred from the little attention paid 
to what Lord Sterling mentioned to them at or in the neighborhood of Amboy. 
As to the civil establishment given to the Canadians by the Quebec Bill,l the 
slavery of it has been admirably exposed in the address of the Congress ; and yet, 
was it a fact that the body of the French inhabitants preferred it to every other 
form, I am of Lord Littleton s opinion, that they should have it while they re 
quested it. We have reason, how r ever, to believe that the mode of trial by juries 
was desired by the bulk of the people, and that it was taken away to gratify the 
petty noblesse of the country, who were for enjoying, as when under France, the 
power of oppressing their inferiors. But, surely, care ought to have been taken, 
by provisos in the act, that Britons should not have been shut out from settling 
in a country for the conquest of which they did and do contribute, without giv 
ing up their liberties and commencing slaves; and that a British gentleman, 
were he pleased to make the tour of Canada, might not be exposed to an impris 
onment by a lettre de cachet from a governor in consequence of secret instruc 
tions from home, should he have unhappily fallen under the high displeasure of 
a British ministry. 

1 The debates in the House of Commons, in the year 174 1, on the Bill 
for the Government of Quebec, were not given to the public till 1839, when 
they were edited .and published by Mr. Wright from manuscript notes 
of Sir Henry Cavendish, Bart., M. P. They justify the worst apprehen 
sions of our fathers, and demonstrate the servile and unmanly spirit of 
the thirteenth Parliament of Great Britain May 17G8 to June 1774 
perhaps the worst in British history. The splendor of the great names in 
it friends to law and liberty only sets forth in stronger light the wick 
edness of the government and its tools. ED. 

19 



218 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

of what had been done ; its arrival at Boston, New York, 
and Virginia nearly at the same time ; the firmness that 
the Bostonians showed upon the occasion ; the indigna 
tion with which it was received, as the news flew through 
the continent; the spirited behavior 1 of the noble Vir 
ginian Assembly,* 1 whereby they hastened their own disso 
lution ; the accounts from different places and colonies 
forwarded to the capital for her encouragement under her 
distress, and to assure her of assistance and support, and 
that they considered hers in the true light of a common 
cause not in consequence of, but ere they had received 
her applications for advice and direction, with the state of 
her situation ; the forwardness which showed itself every 
where to contribute to her relief, and to adopt measures 
that might in the issue recover and secure the liberties 
of this and the other colonies ; the surprising agreement 



a Many political ministerial writers have, with a malicious cunning, attributed 
to Massachusetts more merit in opposing the attempts against American rights 
than it is entitled to. The Episcopal colony 2 of Virginia bravely led in the 
movements at the time of the Stamp Act, and was the first that, by their assem 
bly, declared against the Boston Port Bill in the strongest terms of an honest 
indignation. 

1 They resolved to keep June 1st the day when the Port Bill was to 
take effect in fasting, humiliation, and prayer. On this the governor 
dissolved them; but, before separating, they proposed an annual congress 
of the colonies, and declared that an attack on one colony was an attack 
on all, and demanded " the united wisdom of the whole." See page 193. 
ED. 

2 At this time Virginia could hardly be considered as in fact an Episco 
pal colony. Baptist missionary communities from New England had 
undermined the Established Church, so that fully two-thirds of the people 
were dissenters. Patrick Henry became illustrious as their advocate, and 
Mr. Jefferson received his first clear conceptions of a free civil constitution 
from the practical exhibition of religious liberty and equality in a Baptist 
church in his neighborhood. The power of " lords spiritual and tem 
poral " had been already overturned in Virginia by the verdict in the 
famous tobacco case, making the colonial law supreme. Curtis s Prog 
ress of Baptist Principles, pp. 49-52, 354-57. 1857. ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 219 

in opinion that has prevailed in persons at a great distance 
from each other while consulting for the general good, 
whereby they have been led to transmit by letters nearly 
the same proposals to each other as though the inspiration 
of the Most High gave them the like understanding ; the 
fixing upon a general congress, and choosing delegates, 
although in several places governmental chicanery was 
used to prevent it ; the tender, compassionate feelings 
that every delegate, of whatsoever denomination, without 
party distinctions, discovered for the Bostonians, under 
the free and affecting prayer of a worthy Episcopalian,* 
when, at the opening of the congress, they had been 
alarmed with the false rumor that Boston had been 
attacked by the military and navy ; the amazing conse 
quences that this false alarm did, and continues to pro 
duce. It proved the means of showing that the colonists 
were not to be intimidated, though martial appearances 
were to terminate in actual hostilities ; that they would 
be volunteers in the cause of liberty ; and that they 
meant not to avoid fighting, whenever it became neces 
sary. It put many thousands upon boldly taking them 
selves to arms, and marching forward, as they apprehended, 
to the assistance of their oppressed fellow-subjects. It 
kindled a martial spirit, that has spread through various 

a The Rev. Mr. Duche.l 

1 The Rev. Jacob Duche, an Episcopal clergyman of Philadelphia, of 
brilliant talents, distinguished by making the prayer at the opening of the 
first congress at Philadelphia. He was invited to officiate, on motion of 
Mr. Samuel Adams. Mr. John Adams wrote to his wife: "Mr. Duche 
unexpectedly struck out into an extemporary prayer, which filled the 
bosom of every man present." He was opposed to independence, and 
wrote to Washington proposing his resignation of the command of the 
army. Washington transmitted the letter to Congress, and Mr. Duche 
found it well to leave for England, in 1776. He died in January, 1798, aged 
about sixty. Allen s Biog. Diet. ED. 



220 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

colonies, and put the inhabitants upon perfecting them 
selves in the military exercise, that so they may be early 
prepared for the worst. To that it has been owing, in a 
great measure, that the continent has put on such a war 
like appearance ; that companies have been formed, and 
are continually training, as far down as to and even in 
Virginia, if not further ; a and that they will be better 
prepared than was ever before the case to repel all inva 
sions that may be made upon their natural and constitu 
tional rights, even though supported by a British army. 
Should British officers and troops wrongly imagine that 
their commissions and oaths oblige them to act, though in 
opposition to those very principles of the constitution that 
supports them and empowers the king to give them their 
commissions, instead of recollecting that all obligations 
entered into must necessarily be attended with this pro 
viso, that they are not contrary to and subversive of the 
constitution, and that it is a reverence for and love to the 
constitution that distinguishes the soldier from the mer 
cenary, still, they would have no inclination to fight 
with fellow-subjects whose only fault was an excessive 
love of freedom, and a fixed determination not to submit 
to what they really believed were designed attacks upon 
their most precious liberties. In such circumstances, may 
we not hope that the former would rather wish to escape 
with honor than to disgrace themselves with conquest, 
and that the men of might will not find their hands? 
But should it be otherwise, and their native bravery be 
sacrificed in support of a bad cause, yet it might be too 
hard a task for them to subdue their brethren when fight 
ing, pro aris et focis, for all that is dear, and who almost 
universally excel in the art of striking a mark, by which 

a We are informed of the like in South Carolina. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 221 

the waste of ammunition will be greatly prevented. 51 The 
want of field artillery 1 will not be much nor long felt 
under a commander that has skill to avoid being attacked, 
and to choose his ground for attacking, in a country with 
which he is perfectly acquainted, and where every inhabi 
tant, even the children, are standing spies upon all the 
motions of an adversary. But, as I earnestly beg of Heaven 
that the redress of our grievances may be obtained without 
fighting, I shall not dwell longer upon this point, and 
proceed to mention those other favorable circumstances, 
of a pacific kind, that remain to be specified, such as tjie 
generous donations made for the poor of Boston ; 2 the 
union of the colonies ; the prevailing harmony and una- 

a Mr. Knoch, then lieutenant in the first regiment of Orange-Nassau, in a trea 
tise on " The Insufficiency of Fire-arms for Attack or Defence, demonstrated from 
Facts," etc., written in about 1759, proves "that, at a medium taken from any 
number of battles fought somewhat before that period, not more than, one man 
could have been killed or wounded by eighty shot discharged. "3 

1 Four cannon constituted the whole train of artillery of the British 
colonies in North America at the opening of the war, April 19, 1775; two 
of which, belonging to the province of Massachusetts, wcr.e taken by the 
enemy. The other two were the property of citizens of Boston. They 
were constantly in service through the war. In 1788, by order of Con 
gress, they were delivered to the Governor of Massachusetts, John Han 
cock. On one was inscribed, " The Hancock, sacred to Liberty ; " and on 
the other, "The Adams." Holmes s Annals, ii. 309. ED. 

2 The Continental Congress resolved, September 17, 1774, that all the 
colonies ought to continue their contributions for " the distresses of our 
brethren at Boston, so long as their occasions may require; " and, October 
8th, that " all America ought to support Massachusetts in their opposition 
to the late acts of Parliament." ED. 

3 " This reverend gentleman has found a method of doing without much 
ammunition; for certain it is that there is at present no appearance of 
great quantities, and much less prospect of procuring more in future. How 
marvellous is sacerdotal invention, when set to work! . . . What 
American has experience enough to cope with" General Gage "a 
commander-in-chief, bred an officer, and highly distinguished? . . . . 
Where could he possibly have acquired his knowledge? . . . Not in a 
review before a governor; ... not by turn-out every now and then, 

19* 



222 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

nimity among the individuals composing the grand con 
gress ; their approbation of the opposition given by this 
colony to the acts for altering their ancient form of gov 
ernment ; their association respecting trade, and the like ; a 
the readiness of the people to conform to it; and the 
intrepid conduct of the southern inhabitants in preventing 
the introduction of any more teas among them. These are 
favorable circumstances, beyond what the most sanguine 
friends of liberty expected ; that appear to be of the 
Lord s doing, and are marvellous in our eyes ; that, if 
foretold, would have been deemed morally impossible by 
those who are still inimical to them, though evidencing a 
wonderful interposition of Providence ; and that may justly 
encourage us, as well as keep us from fainting, especially 
when taken in connection with that spirit of prayer and 
humiliation which has discovered itself in different places 
on occasion of the times. Would to God there was more 
of this ! Did it abound universally, we should have greater 
ground of encouragement by much ; for the fervent prayers 
of the humble, penitent, and returning avail with God, 
through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. However, from 
what there is, and the other favorable circumstances, we 
are warranted to expect that at length, in the exercise of 
prudence, fortitude, and piety, we shall get well through 
our difficulties. 



a The resolve of an embodied people, in a contest for liberty, when the voice 
of the majority has been fairly obtained, to interrupt, and, where necessary, forci 
bly to prevent a trade that would ruin the common cause, and cannot be carried 
on without subjecting them to slavery, notwithstanding the great injury it may 
occasion to individuals, I apprehend, will, on the same principles that justify 
a proscribing a traffic that would hazard the introduction of the pestilence, 
admit of as much stronger a vindication as slavery is the greater plague. 

with a few facetious parsons and new-fangled minute-men, to make a ridicu 
lous parade of arms for the amusement and scoff of every woman and 
child in the village." Tory "Observations," quoted before on p. 195. 
ED. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 223 

We must prudently fall in with the measures recom 
mended by the congress, that so we may not be reported 
to other colonies as disregarders of them, whereby first a 
jealousy may be produced, and then a disunion effected. 
We must promote unanimity among ourselves, peace and 
good order, that we may not be represented as desir 
ous of confusion in hopes of making an advantage of it. 
We should let the laws of honor and honesty have their 
full weight with us, that we may fall under no reproach 
for abusing the present suspension of human laws. We 
should diligently provide for the worst, and be upon our 
guard, that we may not be suddenly stripped of those 
appurtenances, 1 the loss of which will be severely felt 
should we be called upon, by a dire necessity, to make 
our appeal to Heaven. 

I have been ready at tynes to infer, from the military 
spirit that hath spread through the continent, that though 
we are to be saved, it is not to be without the sword, or, at 
least, the strong appearance of it, unless Infinite Wisdom 
(which we shall heartily rejoice to find is the case) should 
be in this way preparing the colonies for cooperating with 
the parent state, after that matters in dispute have been 
settled to satisfaction, in some important struggle with a 
common enemy; and therein, by giving her effectual as 
sistance, for wiping away the reproaches that interested 
calumny and malice have thrown upon them, and for con 
firming an eternal friendship. But is it the awful determi 
nation of Heaven that we shall not retain our liberties 
without fighting, let no one despair. The continent, after 

1 General Gage s seizure of the province powder, at Charlestown, Sep 
tember 1st, was the "first indication of hostile intention;" and in his 
attempt to destroy the magazines at Concord, in April, the British troops 
shed the first blood in the war of independence. Frothingham a Siege of 
Boston, 1317, 5164. ED. 



224 A THANKSGIVING SERMON, 

having discovered consummate wisdom, can never conduct 
so absurdly as to leave a single colony alone in the dis 
pute. Their own security will constrain them to support 
whichsoever is attacked. They will rather assist at a dis 
tance than have a war upon or within their own borders, 
and will be sensible that whoever fights on the side of 
American liberty hazards his life in their battles. Should 
it be allowed, for argument s sake, that some one province 
or other, through selfishness or timidity, should basely 
slink from the common danger, yet would the rest have 
greater probability of succeeding than had the Dutch when 
they began to emerge from slavery and to acquire their 
liberties.* Let us be but brave, and we may promise our- 



a "The whole country of the seven United Provinces is not as large as one-half 
of Pennsylvania, and when they began their contest with Philip the Second for 
their liberty, contained about as many inhabitants as are now in the province of 
Massachusetts Bay.i Fhilip s empire then comprehended, in Europe, all Spain 
and Portugal, the two Sicilies, and such provinces of the Low Countries as ad 
hered to him; many islands of importance in the Mediterranean; the Milanese 
and many other valuable territories in Italy, and elsewhere; in Africa and Asia, 
all the dominions belonging to Spain and Portugal; in America, the immense 
countries subject to those two kingdoms, with all their treasures and yet unex 
hausted mines; and the Spanish West Indies. His armies were numerous and 
veteran, excellently officered, and commanded by the most renowned generals. 
So great was their force, that, during the wars in the Low Countries, his com- 
mander-in-chicf, the Prince of Parma, marched twice into France, and obliged 
that great general and glorious king, Henry the Fourth, to raise at one time the 
siege of Paris, and at another that of lioan. So considerable was the naval 
power of Philip, that, in the midst of the same wars, he fitted out his dreadful 
armada to invade England. Yet seven little provinces, or counties, as we should 
call them (says that eminent Pennsylvania!!), inspired by one general resolution 
to die free rather than live slaves, not only baffled, but brought down into the 
dust, that enormous power that had contended for universal empire, and for 
half a century w r as the terror of the world. Such an amazing change indeed 
took place, that those provinces afterward actually protected Spain against the 
power of France." 

1 The history of the name of "Massachusetts Bay," as it appears on the 
title-page, leads back to the beginning of the colony. " Massachusets, 
alias Mattachuscts, alias Massatusets bay/ as it is called in the charter 
4th Charles I., originally designating only what is now Boston harbor, was, 
by force of the royal charters, applied to the colony and to the province, 
and by custom to the sea within the headlands of Cape Ann and Cape Cod. 



PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1774. 225 

selves success. Do we join piety to our prudence and for 
titude; do we confess and repent of our sins, justify God 
in his so trying us, accept of our punishment at his hands 
without murmuring or complaining; do we humble our 
selves, amend our ways and doings, give up ourselves to 
God, become a holy people, and make the Most High our 
confidence, we may hope that he will be on our side; 
and "if the Lord is for us, what can men do unto us?" 
Have we the God of hosts for our ally, we might bid 
adieu to fear, though the world was united against us. 

Let us, then, be pious, brave, and prudent, and we shall 
some of us, at least have room for thanksgivings, not 
merely for promising appearances, but for actual deliver 
ance out of present difficulties, though it should not be 
till we have been conversant with the din of arms and the 
horrors of war. But should the country be wasted for a 
few years, and a number of its inhabitants be destroyed, 
ere the wished-for salvation is granted, how soon, after 
having secured its liberties, will it regain its former pros 
perity; yea, become far more glorious, wealthy, and popu 
lous than ever, through the thousands and ten thousands 
that will flock to it, with riches, arts, and sciences, ac 
quired by them in foreign countries ! And how will the 
surviving inhabitants and their posterity, together with 
refugees who have fled from oppression and hardships, 
whether civil or sacred, to our American sanctuary, daily 



It was the Indian name of the hill at Squantum, on the southern shore 
of Boston harbor. 

" Thence Massachusetts took her honored name." 1 

The affix of " Bay " was discontinued in the constitution of 1780. This 
was the origin of the popular names, "The Bay People," "The Bay 
State," "The Old Bay State." 

l From the beautiful poem, by Wm. P. Lunt, D.D., at the laying of the corner 
stone of the " Sailors Snug Harbor " at Quincy. ED. 



226 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

give thanks to the Sovereign of the universe that this gen 
eral asylum was not consumed ! How oft will they, with 
raptures, think upon that noble exertion of courage that 
prevented it, celebrate the praises of those that led and 
suffered in the common cause, and with glowing hearts 
bless that God who owned the goodness of it, and at 
length crowned it with success! Hallelujah. The Lord 
God omnipotent reigneth. 



The way to escape an attack is to be in readiness to 
receive it. While administration consists of those that 
have avowed their dislike to the principles of this conti 
nent, and the known friends of America are excluded, 
there should be no dependence upon the fair speeches or 
actual promises of any, but the colonies should pursue the 
means of safety as vigorously as ever, that they may not 
be surprised. T is the most constant maxim of war, that 
a man ought never to be more upon his guard than while 
he is in treaty ; for want of attending to it, King Edward 
the Fourth was suddenly attacked, defeated, and made 
prisoner, by the Earl of Warwick, in 1470. 



Government cot tufted by Vice^ and recovered by 
Righteoufnefs. 



SERMON 

PREACHED 

BEFORE THE HONORABLE 

CONGRESS 

Of the Colony 

Of the Maffacbufetts-Bay 

IN NE W-ENGLAND, 

AiTembled at WdTERTOffN, 

On Wednefday the 3lft Day of May ^ 1/75. 

Being the Anniverfary fixed by CHARTER 

For the Eledtion of COUNSELLORS. 

By SAMUEL LANGDON, D. D. 

Prefident of Harvard College in CAMBRIDGE. 

As a roaring Lion and a ranging Bear, fo is a 
wicked Ruler over the poor People. Prov. 28. 15. 

W A r E R TO W N: 

Printed and Sold by BENJAMIN EDES, 

MDCCLXXV. 



IN PROVINCIAL CONGRESS, WATER-TOWN, May 31, P.M., 1775. 

Ordered, That Mr. Gill, Dr. Whiting, Mr. Pitts. Mr. Jewet, ana Col. Lincoln 
be a Committee to return the thanks of this Congress to the Rev. Dr. Langdon 
for his excellent Sermon delivered to the Congress in the forenoon; and to 
request a copy of it for the press. 

A true extract from the Minutes. 

SAMUEL FREEMAN, Secretary. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



THE last few months in Massachusetts developed a temper in the 
people, and a persistent policy on the part of Governor Gage, which, 
manifestly to both parties, must before long end in collision. On the 
1st of September, 1774, Governor Gage issued precepts for "the Great 
and General Court" to be convened at Salem, October 5th; on the 
28th of September he issued his " proclamation," that, " from the many 
tumults and disorders which had since taken place, the extraordinary 
resolves which had been passed in many of the counties, the instructions 
given by the town of Boston, and some other towns, to their representa 
tives, and the present disordered and unhappy state of the province," he 
then thought it highly inexpedient that it should be so convened. But 
ninety of the representatives did meet at Salem on the 5th, and on the 
next day, Thursday, organized a convention John Hancock, Chairman, 
and Benjamin Lincoln, Clerk. On Friday they "resolved themselves into 
a Provincial Congress," which, after several sessions, was dissolved, De 
cember 10th, having first " recommended " the election of delegates to 
another congress, February 1st ensuing, to " consult, deliberate, and resolve 
upon such further measures as, under God, shall be effectual to save this 
people from impending ruin, and to secure those inestimable liberties 
derived to us from our ancestors, and which it is our duty to preserve 
for posterity." The third Provincial Congress assembled at Watcrtown, 
May 31, 1775; and before that body President Langdon delivered this 
Sermon, it being the day fixed by charter for the election of councillors, 
" election-day," and this was the usual " Election Sermon." 

The first blood of the war of the Revolution was shed at Lexington, on 
the 19th of April, 1775. The fire of British guns gleamed over the 
colonies, and beneath its flash every heart throbbed, and every soul felt 
that the die was cast. Yet it was not Englishmen who were in fratricidal 

20 



230 



war with their American brethren, but England, palsied by the church 
"gospel "of unlimited submission, and corrupted by her German king. 
Even then, though shocked, there yet lingered in the American breast 
the old yearning towards " home," the mother-land, and the fond pride 
of British nationality, which might have been rekindled, and the dissolu 
tion of the political bands deferred; but German obstinacy smothered 
the flame, and resistance " rebellion " became a revolution. Happily, 
time heals the wounds and dissipates the asperities of political separation; 
and in the indissoluble unity of the nations in blood, in language, and in 
faith, there remains a nobler brotherhood, dear to every manly heart and 
Christian hope. 

The resistance and union of the colonies were the very opposite of the 
results expected by the ministry. Severity defeated its ends. Colonial 
non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption agreements were 
met by government prohibition of the fisheries and commerce, though 
it involved a sacrifice of British interests; for it was shown that New 
England only could successfully prosecute the fisheries, and the table of 
the House of Commons was loaded with statistics of their enormous value 
and importance to trade. The sword was two-edged; but with George III. 
personal feelings were superior to national interests. 

The Provincial Congress voted, May 5th, that General Gage " ought to 
be considered and guarded against as an unnatural and inveterate enemy 
to the country." One hundred thousand pounds lawful money were 
voted; and thirteen thousand six hundred men, from Massachusetts 
alone, enlisted, as a superior force was the " only means left to stem 
the rapid progress of a tyrannical ministry." Force must be met by 
force; and the colonial militia men with souls in them, ardent for their 
own firesides and rights were ready for the king s mercenary troops. 
" In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress" was 
authority enough. Proclamations from royal governors were as the idle 
wind. Gage was master of Boston only. The trembling tories detained 
the wives and children of the patriots in Boston, for the security of the 
town, though in violation of General Gage s faith for their removal. The 
inhabitants of the seaports, exposed to the enemy by sea, fled from their 
homes to the interior, and were in want and suffering. " How much 
better," said the preacher, oppressed by the sight of all this misery, " for 
the inhabitants to have resolved, at all hazards, to defend themselves 
by their arms against such an enemy ! " The day at Lexington and 
Concord, and other principal events, are referred to in the Sermon. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 231 

Such, in brief, was the face of affairs on this 31st of May, when the 
Provincial Congress was convened at Watertown. The old formula of 
proceedings was observed as far as possible. It was 

"Ordered, That Mr. Brown, Doct. Taylor, and Colonel Sayer be [a] 
committee to wait on the commanding officer of the militia of this 
town, to thank him for his polite offer to escort the Congress to the 
meeting-house, and to inform him that, as this Congress are now sitting, 
the Congress think it needless to withdraw for that purpose : but will, 
with the reverend gentlemen of the clergy, attend them to Mrs. Coolidge s, 
if they please to escort them thither, when the Congress adjourns." 

By a special vote, Dr. Langdon s Sermon was sent to each minister in 
the colony, and to each member of the Congress. 

The preacher, SAMUEL LANGDON, D. D., born in Boston, in the year 
1722, graduated at Harvard College, 1740, and chaplain of a regiment 
in the crusade against Louisburg, 1745, was pastor of a church in Ports 
mouth, N. H., from 1747 till 1774, when, by reason of his eminent talents, 
learning, and piety, and of his bold and zealous patriotism, he was 
appointed to the presidency of Harvard College. 

He was moderator of the annual convention of the ministers, held, by 
special invitation of the Provincial Congress, at Watertown, June 1st, 
following election-day, when he signed the following letter: 

"To the Hon. JOSEPH WARREN, Esq., President of the Provincial Con 
gress of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, etc. 

" SIR: W T e, the pastors of the Congregational churches of the Colony 
of the Massachusetts Bay, in our present annual convention/ at Water- 
town, June 1, 1775, " gratefully beg leave to express the sense we have 
of the regard shown by the Honorable Provincial Congress to us, and the 
encouragement they have been pleased to afford to our assembling as a 
body this day. Deeply impressed with sympathy for the distresses of 
our much-injured and oppressed country, we are not a little relieved in 
beholding the representatives of tins people, chosen by their free and 
unbiassed suffrages, now met to concert measures for their relief and 
defence, in whose wisdom and integrity, under the smiles of Divine Provi 
dence, we cannot but express our entire confidence. 

" As it has been found necessary to raise an army for the common 
safety, and our brave countrymen have so willingly offered themselves to 
this hazardous service, we are not insensible of the vast burden that 
their necessary maintenance must" devolve " upon the people. We 



232 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

therefore cannot forbear, upon this occasion, to offer our services l to 
the public, and to signify our readiness, with the consent of our several 
congregations, to officiate, by rotation, as chaplains to the army. 

" We devoutly commend the Congress, and our brethren in arms, to 
the guidance and protection of that Providence which, from the first 
settlement of this country, has so remarkably appeared for the preserva 
tion of its civil and religious rights. 

" SAMUEL LANGDON, MODERATOR." 

After an able administration, in a period of peculiar embarrassment, he 
resigned the presidency of the college, and became pastor of the church 
at Hampton Falls. 

In the New Hampshire State Convention of 1788 he was prominent in 
securing the adoption of the Federal Constitution. He died, November 
29th, 1797, beloved and revered for his private and public life. 2 



1 See Address to the Clergy, p. xxxvii. 

2 Rev. Rufus W. Clark s sketch in Sprague s Annals of the American Pulpit, 
i. 455459. 



DISCOURSE V. 

AN" ELECTION SERMON. 



AND I WILL RESTORE THY JUDGES AS AT THE FIRST, AND THY COUNSELLORS 
AS AT THE BEGINNING; AFTERWARD THOU SHALT BE CALLED THE CITY 

OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE FAITHFUL CITY. Isaiah i. 26. 



SHALL we rejoice, my fathers and brethren, or shall we 
weep together, on the return of this anniversary, which 
from the first settlement of this colony has been sacred to 
liberty, to perpetuate that invaluable privilege of choosing 
from among ourselves wise men, fearing God and hating 
covetousness, to be honorable counsellors, to constitute one 
essential branch of that happy government which was 
established on the faith of royal charters ? 

On this day the people have from year to year assem 
bled, from all our towns, in a vast congregation, with glad 
ness and festivity, with every ensign of joy displayed in 
our metropolis, which now, alas ! is made a garrison of 
mercenary troops, the stronghold of despotism. But how 
shall I now address you from this desk, remote from the 
capital, and remind you of the important business which 
distinguished this day in our calendar, without spreading 
a gloom over this assembly by exhibiting the melancholy 
change made in the face of our public affairs ? 

We have lived to see the time when British liberty is 
just ready to expire, when that constitution of govern 
ment which has so long been the glory and strength of 
the English nation is deeply undermined and ready to 

20* 



234 THE ELECTION SERMON 

tumble into ruins, when America is threatened with cruel 
oppression, and the arm of power is stretched out against 
New England, and especially against this colony, to com 
pel us to submit to the arbitrary acts of legislators who 
are not our representatives, and who will not themselves 
bear the least part of the burdens which, without mercy, 
they are laying upon us. The most formal and solemn 
grants of kings to our ancestors are deemed by our op 
pressors as of little value ; and they have mutilated the 
charter of this colony, in the most essential parts, upon 
false representations, and new-invented maxims of policy, 
without the least regard to any legal process. We are no 
longer permitted to fix our eyes on the faithful of the land, 
and trust in the wisdom of their counsels and the equity of 
their judgment; but men in whom we can have no confi 
dence, whose principles are subversive of our liberties, 
whose aim is to exercise lordship over us, and share among 
themselves the public wealth, men who are ready to serve 
any master, and execute the most unrighteous decrees for 
high wages, whose faces we never saw before, and whose 
interests and connections may be far divided from us by 
the wide Atlantic, are to be set over us, as counsellors 
and judges, at the pleasure of those who have the riches 
and power of the nation in their hands, and whose noblest 
frtan is to subjugate the colonies, first, and then the whole 
nation, to their will. 

That we might not have it in our power to refuse the 
most absolute submission to their unlimited claims of au 
thority, they have not only endeavored to terrify us with 
fleets and armies sent to our capital, and distressed and put 
an end to our trade, particularly that important branch 
of it, the fishery, 1 but at length attempted, by a sudden 

1 Mr. Sabine s learned " Report on the Principal Fisheries of the Amer 
ican Seas," 1853, is an invaluable contribution to American history. It is 



AT WATERTOWJST, MAY 31,1775. 235 

march of a body of troops in the night, 1 to seize and 
destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely 
for their security, if, after such formidable military prep 
arations on the other side, matters should be pushed to an 
extremity. By this, as might well be expected, a skirmish 
was brought on ; and it is most evident, from a variety of 
concurring circumstances, as well as numerous depositions 
both of the prisoners taken by us at that time and our own 
men then on the spot only as spectators, that the fire 
began first on the side of the king s troops. At least five 
or six of our inhabitants were murderously killed by the 
regulars at Lexington before any man attempted to return 
the fire, and when they were actually complying with the 
command to disperse ; and two more of our brethren were 
likewise killed at Concord bridge, by a fire from the king s 
soldiers, before 2 the engagement began on our side. But, 
whatever credit falsehoods transmitted to Great Britain 
from the other side may gain, the matter may be rested 
entirely on this : that he that arms himself to commit a 
robbery, and demands the traveller s purse by the terror 
of instant death, is the first aggressor, though the other 
should take the advantage of discharging his weapon first, 
and killing the robber. 

The alarm was sudden, but in a very short time spread 
far and wide. The nearest neighbors in haste ran together 
to assist their brethren and save their country. Not more 
than three or four hundred met in season, and bravely 

essential to a correct knowledge of American colonization, and of much 
of our subsequent history. ED. 

1 April 18-19. ED. 

2 Mr. Frothingham presents the results of an able and con scientious 
study of these events in his " History of the Siege of Boston," " The best 
of our historic monographs." Bancroft in Allibone. Sec also Mr. Henry 
B. Dawson s elaborate pages in " The Battles of the United States." 
ED. 



236 THE ELECTION SERMON 

attacked and repulsed the enemies of liberty, who re 
treated with great precipitation. But, by the help of a 
strong reinforcement, notwithstanding a close pursuit and 
continual loss on their side, they acted the part of rob 
bers and savages, by burning, 1 plundering, and damaging 
almost every house in their way to the utmost of their 



1 Rev. Isaac Mansfield, Jr., chaplain to General Thomas s regiment, in 
his Thanksgiving Sermon " in the camp at Roxbury, November 23, 1775," 
says of the event of April 19th : " What but the hand of Providence pre 
served the school of the prophets from their ravage, who would have 
deprived us of many advantages for moral or religious improvement?" 
To this he adds the note following : " General Gage, as governor of this 
province, issued his precepts for convening a General Assembly at Boston, 
designing to enforce a compliance with Lord North s designing motion; 
they were to be kept as prisoners in garrison, till, under the mouth of can 
non and at the point of the bayonet, they should be reduced to a mean and 
servile submission. To facilitate this matter, he was to send out a party 
to take possession of a magazine at Concord. Presuming that this might 
be done without opposition, the said party, upon their return from Con 
cord, were to lay waste till they should arrive at Cambridge common; 
there, after destroying the colleges" seminaries of sedition " and other 
buildings, they were to throw up an entrenchment upon the said common, 
their number was to be increased from the garrison, and the next morning 
a part of the artillery to be removed and planted in the entrenchment 
aforesaid. This astonishing manoeuvre, it was supposed, would so effect 
ually intimidate the constituents, that the General Assembly, by the com 
pliance designed, would literally represent their constituents. The author 
is not at liberty to publish the channel through which he received the fore 
going, but begs to assure the reader that it came so direct that he cannot 
hesitate in giving credit to it. He recollects one circumstance which ren 
ders it highly probable: Lord Percy (on April 19), suspicious his progress 
to Concord might be retarded by the plank of the bridge at Cambridge 
being taken away, brought out from Boston several loads of plank, with 
a number of carpenters; not finding occasion to use them, he carried them 
on his way to Concord, perhaps about a mile and a half from the bridge; 
about an hour after the jpkuik were returned. If he had intended to 
repass that river at night, he must have reserved the plank; if he designed 
to stop in Cambridge, the plank must be an incumbrance. This conduct, 
in returning the plank, may be accounted for upon supposition of the 
foregoing plan of operation." ED. 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 237 

power, murdering the unarmed and helpless, and not re 
garding the weaknesses of the tender sex, until they had 
secured themselves beyond the reach of our terrifying 
arms.* 

That ever-memorable day, the nineteenth of April, is 
the date of an unhappy war openly begun by the minis 
ters of the king of Great Britain against his good subjects 
in this colony, and implicitly against all the other colonies. 
But for what ? Because they have made a noble stand 
for their natural and constitutional rights, in opposition to 
the machinations of wicked men who are betraying their 
royal master, establishing Popery in the British dominions, 
and aiming to enslave and ruin the whole nation, that 
they may enrich themselves and their vile dependents 
with the public treasures and the spoils of America. 

We have used our utmost endeavors, by repeated hum 
ble petitions and remonstrances, by a series of unanswer 
able reasonings published from the press, in which the 
dispute has been fairly stated, and the justice of our 
opposition clearly demonstrated, and by the mediation 
of some of the noblest and most faithful friends of the 
British constitution, who have powerfully plead our cause 
in Parliament, to prevent such measures as may soon re 
duce the body politic to a miserable, dismembered, dying 
trunk, though lately the terror of all Europe. But our 



a Near the meeting-house in Menotomy 1 two aged, helpless men, who had not 
been out in the action, and were found unarmed in a house where the regulars 
entered, were murdered without mercy. In another house, in that neighborhood, 
a woman, in bed with a new-born infant about a week old, was forced by the 
threats of the soldiery to escape, almost naked, to an open outhouse; her house 
was then set on fire, but was soon extinguished by one of the children which 
had laid concealed till the enemy was gone. In Cambridge, a man of weak 
mental powers, who went out to gaze at the regular army as they passed, with 
out arms or thought of danger, was wantonly shot at and killed by those inhu 
man butchers as he sat on a fence. 

1 Now West Cambridge. ED. 



238 THE ELECTION SERMON 

king, as if impelled by some strange fatality, is resolved to 
reason with us only by the roar of his cannon and the 
pointed arguments of muskets and bayonets. Because 
we refuse submission to the despotic power of a minis 
terial Parliament, our own sovereign, to whom we have 
been always ready to swear true allegiance, whose au 
thority we never meant to cast off, who might have con 
tinued happy in the cheerful obedience of as faithful sub 
jects as any in his dominions, has given us up to the 
rage of his ministers, to be seized at sea by the rapacious 
commanders of every little sloop of war and piratical cut 
ter, and to be plundered and massacred by land by mer 
cenary troops, who know no distinction betwixt an enemy 
and a brother, between right and wrong, but only, like 
brutal pursuers, to hunt and seize the prey pointed out by 
their masters. 

We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme govern 
ment of the Eternal King, as directing all events, setting 
up or pulling down the kings of the earth at his pleasure, 
suffering the best forms of human government to degen 
erate and go to ruin by corruption, or restoring the de 
cayed constitutions of kingdoms and states by reviving 
public virtue and religion, and granting the favorable 
interpositions of his providence. To this our text leads 
us ; and, though I hope to be excused on this occasion 
from a formal discourse on the words in a doctrinal way, 
yet I must not wholly pass over the religious instruction 
contained in them. 

Let us consider that for the sins of a people God 
may suffer the best government to be corrupted or en 
tirely dissolved, and that nothing but a general reforma 
tion can give good ground to hope that the public happi 
ness will be restored by the recovery of the strength and 
perfection of the state, and that Divine Providence will 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 239 

interpose to fill every department with wise and good 
men. 

Isaiah prophesied about the time of the captivity of the 
Ten Tribes of Israel, and about a century before the cap 
tivity of Judah. The kingdom of Israel was brought to 
destruction because its iniquities were full ; its counsellors 
and judges were wholly taken away because there re 
mained no hope of reformation. But the sceptre did not 
entirely depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between 
his feet, till the Messiah came ; yet greater and greater 
changes took place in their political affairs : their govern 
ment degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, 
till few faithful men were left in any public offices ; and at 
length, when they were delivered up for seventy years 
into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarce any re 
mains of their original excellent civil polity appeared 
among them. 

The Jewish government, according to the original con 
stitution which was divinely established, if" considered 
merely in a civil view, was a perfect republic. The heads 
of their tribes and elders of their cities were their coun 
sellors and judges. They called the people together in 
more general or particular assemblies, took their opin 
ions, gave advice, and managed the public affairs accord 
ing to the general voice. Counsellors and judges compre 
hend all the powers of that government ; for there was no 
such thing as legislative authority belonging to it, their 
complete code of laws being given immediately from God 
by the hand of Moses. And let them who cry up the 
divine right of kings consider that the only form of gov 
ernment which had a proper claim to a divine establish 
ment was so far from including the idea of a king, that it 
was a high crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like 
other nations ; and when they were gratified, it was rather 



240 THE ELECTION SERMON 

as a just punishment of their folly, that they might feel 
the burdens of court pageantry, of which they were 
warned by a very striking description, than as a divine 
recommendation of kingly authority. 

Every nation, when able and agreed, has a right to set 
up over themselves any form of government which to 
them may appear most conducive to their common wel 
fare. x The civil polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent 
general model, allowing for some peculiarities; at least, 
some principal laws and orders of it may be copied to 
great advantage in more modern establishments. 

When a government is in its prime, the public good 
engages the attention of the whole ; the strictest regard is 
paid to the qualifications of those who hold the offices of 
the state ; virtue prevails ; everything is managed with 
justice, prudence, and frugality ; the laws are founded on 
principles of equity rather than mere policy, and all the 
people are happy. But vice will increase with the riches 
and glory of an empire ; and this gradually tends to cor 
rupt the constitution, and in time bring on its dissolution. 
This may be considered not only as the natural effect of 
vice, but a righteous judgment of Heaven, especially upon 
a nation which has been favored with the blessings of 
religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them, 
and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust. 

In this chapter the prophet describes the very corrupt 
state of Judah in his day, both as to religion and common 
morality, and looks forward to that increase of wicked- 

1 " Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers 
from the consent of the governed; .... it is the right of the people to 
alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its founda 
tions on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to 
them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." Dec. 
of Ind., July 4th, 1776. ED. 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 241 

ness which would bring on their desolation and captivity/ 
They were "a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, 
a seed of evil-doers, children that were corrupters, who 
had forsaken the Lord, and provoked -the Holy One of 
Israel to anger." The whole body of the nation, from head 
to foot, was full of moral and political disorders, without 
any remaining soundness. Their religion was all mere cere 
mony and hypocrisy ; and even the laws of common justice 
and humanity were disregarded in their public courts. 
They had counsellors and judges, but very different from 
those at the beginning of the commonwealth. Their 
princes were rebellious against God and the constitution 
of their country, and companions of thieves, giving 
countenance to every artifice for seizing the property of 
the subjects into their own hands, and robbing the public 
treasury. Every one loved gifts, and followed after re 
wards ; they regarded the perquisites more than the duties 
of their office ; the general aim was at profitable places and 
pensions ; they were influenced in everything by bribery ; 
and their avarice and luxury were never satisfied, but hur 
ried them on to all kinds of oppression and violence, so 
that they even justified and encouraged the murder of 
innocent persons to support their lawless power and in 
crease their wealth. And God, in righteous judgment, 
left them to run into all this excess of vice, to their own 
destruction, because they had forsaken him, and were 
guilty of wilful inattention to the most essential parts of 
that religion which had been given them by a well-attested 
revelation from heaven. 

The Jewish nation could not but see and feel the un 
happy consequences of so great corruption of the state. 
Doubtless they complained much of men in power, and 
very heartily and liberally reproached them for their noto 
rious misconduct. The public greatly suffered, and the 

21 



242 THE ELECTION SERMON 

people groaned and wished for better rulers and better 
management; but in vain they hoped for a change of men 
and measures and better times when the spirit of religion 
was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal. 
The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no 
rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but 
rather of its ruin, which accordingly came on in Jeremiah s 
time. Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals 
had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their 
sins, if they had again recovered the true spirit of their 
religion, God, by the gracious interpositions of his prov 
idence, would soon have found out methods to restore the 
former virtue of the state, and again have given them men 
of wisdom and integrity, according to their utmost wish, 
to be counsellors and judges. This was verified in fact 
after the nation had been purged by a long captivity, and 
returned to their own land humbled and filled with zeal 
for God and his law. 

By all this we may be led to consider the true cause of 
the present remarkable troubles which are come upon Great 
Britam and these colonies, and the only effectual remedy. 

We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true 
spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward pro 
fession and form of it. We have neglected and set light 
by the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his 
holy commands and institutions. The worship of many 
is but mere compliment to the Deity, while their hearts 
are far from him. By many the gospel is corrupted into 
a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better 
than ancient Platonism ; and, after all the pretended re 
finements of moderns in the theory of Christianity, very 
little of the pure practice of it is to be found among those 
who once stood foremost in the profession of the gospel. 
In a general view of the present moral state of Great 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 243 

Britain it may be said, " There is no truth, nor mercy, nor 
knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, 
and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery," their 
wickedness breaks out, and one murder after another is 
committed, under the connivance and encouragement even 
of that authority by which such crimes ought to be 
punished, that the purposes of oppression and despotism 
may be answered. As they have increased, so have they 
sinned ; therefore God is changing their glory into shame. 
The general prevalence of vice has changed the whole face 
of things in the British government. 

The excellency of the constitution has been the boast 
of Great Britain and the envy of neighboring nations. 
In former times the great departments of the state, and 
the various places of trust and authority, were filled with 
men of wisdom, honesty, and religion, who employed all 
their powers, and were ready to risk their fortunes and 
their lives, for the public good. They were faithful coun 
sellors to kings; directed their authority and majesty to 
the happiness of the nation, and opposed every step by 
which despotism endeavored to advance. They were 
fathers of the people, and sought the welfare and prosperity 
of the whole body. They did not exhaust the national 
wealth by luxury and bribery, or convert it to their own 
private benefit or the maintenance of idle, useless officers 
and dependents, but improved it faithfully for the proper 
purposes for the necessary support of government and 
defence of the kingdom. Their laws were dictated by 
wisdom and equality, and justice was administered with 
impartiality. Religion discovered its general influence 
among all ranks, and kept out great corruptions from 
places of power. 

But in what does the British nation now glory? In a 
mere shadow of its ancient political system, in titles of 



244 THE ELECTION SERMON 

dignity without virtue, in vast public treasures continu 
ally lavished in corruption till every fund is exhausted, 
notwithstanding the mighty streams perpetually flowing 
in, in the many artifices to stretch the prerogatives of 
the crown beyond all constitutional bounds, and make the 
king an absolute monarch, while the people are deluded 
with a mere phantom of liberty. What idea must we 
entertain of that great government, if such a one can be 
found, which pretends to have made an exact counter 
balance of power between the sovereign, the nobles and 
the commons, so that the three branches shall be an 
effectual check upon each other, and the united wisdom of 
the whole shall conspire to promote the national felicity, 
but which, in reality, is reduced to such a situation that it 
may be mannged at the sole will of one court favorite ? 
What difference is there betwixt one 1 man s choosing, at 
his own pleasure, by his single vote, the majority of those 
who are to represent the people, and his purchasing in such 
a majority, according to his own nomination, with money 
out of the public treasury, or other effectual methods of 
influencing elections ? And what shall we say if, in the 
same manner, by places, pensions, and other bribes, a 
minister of the crown can at any time gain over a nobler 
majority likewise to be entirely subservient to his purposes, 
and, moreover, persuade his royal master to resign himself 
up wholly to the direction of his counsels? If this should 

i Mr. Burke, in his "Thoughts on the Present Discontents," 1770, said: 
" The power of the crown, almost rotten and dead as prerogative, has 
grown up anew, with much more strength, and far less odium, under the 
name of influence," intrigue, and favoritism; and a few years later he 
refers to the " not disavowed use which has been made of his Majesty s 
name for thfc purpose of the most unconstitutional, corrupt, and dishon 
orable influence on the minds of the members of this Parliament that 
ever was practised in this kingdom. No attention even to exterior de 
corum," etc. ED. 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 245 

be the case of any nation, from one seven years end to 
another, the bargain and sale being made sure for such a 
period, would they still have reason to boast of their ex 
cellent constitution ? l Ought they not rather to think it 
high time to restore the corrupted, dying state to its origi 
nal perfection ? I will apply this to the Roman senate 
under Julius Caesar, which retained all its ancient for 
malities, but voted always only as Caesar dictated. If the 
decrees of such a senate were urged on the Romans, as 
fraught with all the blessings of Roman liberty, we must 
suppose them strangely deluded if they were persuaded 
to believe it. 

The pretence for taxing America has been that the na 
tion contracted an immense debt for the defence of the 
American colonies, and that, as they are now able to con 
tribute some proportion towards the discharge of this debt, 
and must be considered as part of the nation, it is rea 
sonable they should be taxed, and the Parliament has a 
right to tax and govern them, in all cases whatever, by its 
own supreme authority. Enough has been already pub 
lished on this grand controversy, which now threatens a 
final separation of the colonies from Great Britain. But 
can the amazing national debt be paid by a little trifling 
sum, squeezed from year to year out of America, which is 
continually drained of all its cash by a restricted trade 
with the parent country, and which in this way is taxed 
to the government of Britain in a very large proportion? 
Would it not be much superior wisdom, and sounder pol 
icy, for a distressed kingdom to retrench the vast unneces- 

1 This contemporary observation of the English government of that 
period shows the watchful eye of the colonists on the administration; and 
by it we can better appreciate their masterly conduct of public affairs, and 
their superiority over the British statesmen. England knew not her 
colonists, but she was known of them. ED. 

21* 



246 THE ELECTION SERMON 

sary expenses continually incurred by its enormous vices; 
to stop the prodigious sums paid in pensions, and to num 
berless officers, without the least advantage to the public; 
to reduce the number of devouring servants in the great 
family; to turn their minds from the pursuit of pleasure 
and the boundless luxuries of life to the important inter 
ests of their country and the salvation of the common 
wealth? Would not a reverend regard to the authority 
of divine revelation, a hearty belief of the gospel of the 
grace of God, and a general reformation of all those vices 
which bring misery and ruin upon individuals, families, and 
kingdoms, and which have provoked Heaven to bring the 
nation into such perplexed and dangerous circumstances, 
be the surest way to recover the sinking state, and make it 
again rich and flourishing? Millions might annually be 
saved if the kingdom were generally and thoroughly re 
formed ; and the public debt, great as it is, might in a few 
years be cancelled by a growing revenue, which now 
amounts to full ten millions per annum, without laying 
additional burdens on any of the subjects. But the 
demands of corruption are constantly increasing, and will 
forever exceed all the resources of wealth which the wit 
of man can invent or tyranny impose. 

Into what fatal policy has the nation been impelled, by 
its public vices, to wage a cruel war with its own chil 
dren in these colonies, only to gratify the lust of power 
and the demands of extravagance ! May God, in his great 
mercy, recover Great Britain from this fatal infatuation, 
show them their errors, and give them a spirit of reforma 
tion, before it is too late to avert impending destruction ! 
May the eyes of the king be opened to see the ruinous 
tendency of the measures into which he hns been led, and 
his heart inclined to treat his American subjects with jus 
tice and clemency, instead of forcing them still further to 



AT WATEKTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 247 

the last extremities ! God grant some method may be 
found out to effect a happy reconciliation, so that the col 
onies may again enjoy the protection of their sovereign, 
with perfect security of all their natural rights and civil 
and religious liberties. 

But, alas! have not the sins of America, and of New 
England in particular, had a hand in bringing down upon 
us the righteous judgments of Heaven? Wherefore is all 
this evil come upon us ? Is it not because we have forsaken 
the Lord ? Can we say we are innocent of crimes against 
God ? No, surely. It becomes us to humble ourselves 
under his mighty hand, that he may exalt us in due time. 
However unjustly and cruelly we have been treated by 
man, we certainly deserve, at the hand of God, all the 
calamities in which we are now involved. Have we not 
lost much of that spirit of genuine Christianity which so 
remarkably appeared in our ancestors, for which God dis 
tinguished them with the signal favors of providence 
when they fled from tyranny and persecution into this 
western desert? Have we not departed from their virtues? 
Though I hope and am confident that as much true reli 
gion, agreeable to the purity and simplicity of the gospel, 
remains among us as among any people in the world, yet, 
in the midst of the present great apostasy of the nations 
professing Christianity, have not we likewise been guilty 
of departing from the living God ? Have we not made 
light of the gospel of salvation, and too much affected the 
cold, formal, fashionable religion of countries grown old in 
vice, and overspread with infidelity? Do not our follies 
and iniquities testify against us ? Have we not, especially 
in our seaports, gone much too far into the pride and lux 
uries of life? Is it not a fact, open to common observation, 
that profaneness, intemperance, unchastity, the love of 
pleasure, fraud, avarice, and other vices, are increasing 



248 THE ELECTION SERMON 

among us from year to year? And have not even these 
young governments been in some measure infected with 
the corruptions of European courts? Has there been no 
flattery, no bribery, no artifices practised, to get into 
places of honor and profit, or carry a vote to serve a par 
ticular interest, without regard to right or wrong? Have 
our statesmen always acted with integrity, and every 
judge with impartiality, in the fear .of God ? In short, 
have all ranks of men showed regard to the divine com 
mands, and joined to promote the Redeemer s kingdom 
and the public welfare ? I wish we could more fully justify 
ourselves in all these respects. If such sins have not been 
so notorious among us as in older countries, we must 
nevertheless remember that the sins of a people who have 
been remarkable for the profession of godliness, are more 
aggravated by all the advantages and favors they have 
enjoyed, and will receive more speedy and signal punish 
ment ; as God says of Israel : " You only have I known 
of all the families of the earth, therefore will I punish you 
for all your iniquities.* 

The judgments now come upon us are very heavy and 
distressing, and have fallen with peculiar weight on our 
capital, where, notwithstanding the plighted honor of the 
chief commander of the hostile troops, many of our breth 
ren are still detained, as if they were captives ; l and those 
that have been released have left the principal part of 
their substance, which is withheld, by arbitrary orders, 
contrary to an express treaty, to be plundered by the 
army. b 

a Amos iii. 2. 

b Soon after the battle at Concord, General Gage stipulated, with the select 
men of Boston, that if the inhabitants would deliver up their arms, to be depos- 

i One apology for this bad faith was, that if only tory interests remained 
in Boston the patriots would fire the town. It occasioned extreme anxi 
ety and suffering. Frothin^ham, 93-96. ED. 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 249 

Let me address you in the words of the prophet : "O 
Israel ! return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen 
by thine iniquity." My brethren, let us repent, and implore 
the divine mercy ; let us amend our ways and our doings, 
reform everything which has been provoking to the Most 
High, and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interposi 
tions of Providence for our deliverance. 

If true religion is revived by means of these public 
calamities, and again prevails among us, if it appears in 
our religious assemblies, in the conduct of our civil affairs, 
in our armies, in our families, in all our business and con 
versation, we may hope for the direction and blessing 
of the Most High, while we are using our best endeavors 
to preserve and restore the civil government of this colony, 
and defend America from slavery. 

Our late happy government is changed into the terrors 
of military execution. Our firm opposition to the estab 
lishment of an arbitrary system is called rebellion, and we 
are to expect no mercy, but to yield property and life at 
discretion. This we are resolved at all events not to do, 
and therefore we have taken up arms in our own defence, 
and all the colonies are united in the great cause of liberty. 

But how shall we live while civil government is dis- 



ited in Fanueil Hall, and returned when circumstances would permit, they 
should have liberty to quit the town, and take with them their effects. They 
readily complied, but soon found themselves abused. With great difficulty, and 
very slowly, they obtain passes, but are forbidden to carry out anything besides 
household furniture and wearing apparel. Merchants and shopkeepers are 
obliged to leave behind all their merchandise, and even their cash is detained. 
Mechanics are not allowed to bring out the most necessary tools for their work. 
Not only their family stores of provisions are stopped, but it has been repeat 
edly and credibly affirmed that poor women and children have had the very 
smallest articles of this kind taken from them, which were necessary for their 
refreshment while they travelled a few miles to their friends; and that even 
from young children, in their mothers 1 arms, the cruel soldiery have taken the 
morsel of bread given to prevent their crying, and thrown it away. How much 
better for the inhabitants to have resolved, at all hazards, to defend themselves 
by their arms against such an enemy, than suffer such shameful abuse! 



250 THE ELECTION SERMON 

solved? What shall we do without counsellors and 
judges? A state of absolute anarchy is dreadful. Sub 
mission to the tyranny of hundreds of imperious masters, 
firmly embodied against us, and united in the same cruel 
design of disposing of our lives and subsistence at their 
pleasure, and making their own will our law in all cases 
whatsoever, is the vilest slavery, and worse than death. 

Thanks be to God that he has given us, as men, natural 
rights, independent on all human laws whatever, and that 
these rights are recognized by the grand charter of British 
liberties. By the law of nature, any body of people, desti 
tute of order and government, may form themselves into 
a civil society, according to their best prudence, and so 
provide for their common safety and advantage. When 
one form is found by the majority not to answer the grand 
purpose in any tolerable degree, they may, by common con 
sent, put an end to it and set up another, only, as all 
such great changes are attended with difficulty and danger 
of confusion, they ought not to be attempted without 
urgent necessity, which will be determined always by the 
general voice of the wisest and best members of the com 
munity. 

If the great servants of the public forget their duty, 
betray their trust, and sell their country, or make Avar 
against the most valuable rights and privileges of the 
people, reason and justice require that they should be 
discarded, and others appointed in their room, without 
any regard to formal resignations of their forfeited power. 

It must be ascribed to some supernatural influence on 
the minds of the main body of the people through this 
extensive continent, that they have so universally adopted 
the method of managing the important matters neces 
sary to preserve among them a free government by corre 
sponding committees and congresses, consisting of the 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 251 

wisest and most disinterested patriots in America, chosen 
by the unbiased suffrages of the people assembled for that 
purpose in their several towns, counties, and provinces. 
So general agreement, through so many provinces of so 
large a country, in one mode of self-preservation, is unex 
ampled in any history ; and the effect has exceeded our 
most sanguine expectations. Universal tumults, and all 
the irregularities and violence of mobbish factions, natu 
rally arise when legal authority ceases. But how little 
of this has appeared in the midst of the late obstructions 
of civil government! nothing more than what has often 
happened in Great Britain and Ireland, in the face of the 
civil powers in all their strength ; nothing more than 
what is frequently seen in the midst of the perfect regula 
tions of the great city of London ; and, may I not add, 
nothing more than has been absolutely necessary to carry 
into execution the spirited resolutions of a people too 
sensible to deliver themselves up to oppression and 
slavery. The judgment and advice of the continental 
assembly of delegates have been as readily obeyed as if 
they were authentic acts of a long-established Parliament. 
And in every colony the votes of a congress have had 
equal effect with the laws of great and general courts. 

It is now ten months since 1 this colony has been de 
prived of the benefit of that government which was so 
long enjoyed by charter. They have had no General 
Assembly for matters of legislation and the public revenue ; 
the courts of justice have been shut up, 2 and almost the 



1 Since July 17, 1774, when the General Court at Salem closed the door 
against the secretary sent by Governor Gage to dissolve the Assembly, 
chose Thomas dishing, Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine, James Bow- 
doin, and John Adams, delegates to a congress of the colonies, passed 
resolves, and separated. ED. 

2 The power of public opinion in preserving order and safety during the 



252 THE ELECTION SERMON 

whole executive power has ceased to act ; yet order among 
the people has been remarkably preserved. Few crimes 



period from the time when the king s courts and magistrates all legal 
authority ceased to act, till the accession of constitutional authority, 
a phenomenon which excited the admiration of the world, is finely illus 
trated in Mr. Freeman s account of the proceedings in Barnstable county, 
"on the first Tuesday of September," 1774. As there might be appeals 
from the Court of Common Pleas to the Superior Court, the Chief Justice 
of which, Hutchinson, had accepted a salary from the crown, the people 
suppressed the sessions of that court throughout the province, except in 
Boston, where they were not in power. Fifteen hundred of the people of 
Barnstable, Plymouth, and Bristol counties, thoroughly organized, met in 
front of the court-house, at Barnstable, and, through their conductor-in- 
chief, Dr. Nathaniel Freeman, of Sandwich, addressed Colonel Otis, the 
venerable Chief Justice: ..." Our safety, all that is dear to us, and 
the welfare of unborn millions, have directed this movement topi-event the 
court from being opened or doing any business. We have taken all the con 
sequences into consideration; we have weighed them well, and have 
formed this resolution, which we shall not rescind." The Chief Justice then 
calmly but firmly replied: "This is a legal and a constitutional court; it 
has suffered no mutations; the juries have been drawn from the boxes as 
the law directs; and why would 3 7 ou interrupt its proceedings? why 
do you make a leap before you get to the hedge?" Dr. Freeman re 
sponded : "All this has been considered. We do not appear out of any dis 
respect to this honorable court, nor do we apprehend that if you proceed to 
business you will do anything that we could censure. But, sir, from all 
the decisions of this court, of more than forty shillings amount, an appeal 
lies; an appeal to what? to a court holding office during the king s 
pleasure, a court over which we have no control or influence, a court 
paid out of the revenue that is extorted from us by the illegal and unconsti 
tutional edict of foreign despotism, and there the jury will be appointed 
by the sheriff. For this reason we have adopted this method of stopping the 
avenue through which business may otherwise pass to that tribunal, well 
knowing that if they have no business they can do us no harm." The 
Chief Justice then said: "As is my duty, I now, in his Majesty s name, 
order you immediately to disperse, and give the court the opportunity to per 
form the business of the county." Dr. Freeman replied : " We thank your 
Honor for having done YOUR duty : WE SHALL CONTINUE TO PERFORM 
OURS." The court then turned and repaired to the house where they had 
put up. 
This was supposed to be the first overt act of TREASON, done deliber- 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 253 

have been committed, punishable by the judge ; even for 
mer contentions betwixt one neighbor and another have 



ately, in the face of day. The solemnity and sense of right which gov 
erned the people, and which was a characteristic of the revolutionary 
period, was grandly exhibited in their code of regulations adopted on this 
occasion. We give their own words : 

" Whereas a strict adherence to virtue and religion is not only well- 
pleasing in the sight of Almighty God, and highly commendable before 
men, but hath a natural tendency to good order, and to lead mankind in 
the paths of light and truth: 

" Therefore, Resolved, That we will . . . avoid all kinds of intemper 
ance by strong liquors, and no otherwise frequent the taverns than for 
necessary entertainment and refreshment; that we Avill not swear pro 
fanely, or abuse our superiors, equals, or inferiors, by any ill or opprobri 
ous language; that we will not invade the property of any, or take of their 
goods or estate without their leave or consent; that we will not offer violence 
to any persons, or use any threatening words, otherwise than such as shall 
be approved of and accounted necessary by our community for the accom 
plishing the errand we go upon;~and that we will carefully observe an 
orderly, circumspect, and civil behavior, as well towards strangers and 
all others as towards those of our own fellowship. 

" Resolved, That Messrs. Aaron Barlow, Nathaniel Briggs, James Foster, 
Joseph Haskell, 3d, John Doty, Judah Sears, Jr., Stephen Wing, and 
John Pitcher, be a committee to hear and determine all offences against 
morality, decency, and good manners, that shall be complained of, . . . 
with power to call before them, examine, acquit, or punish, according to 
the nature and circumstances of the offence 

" Resolved, That we will, during the time of our said enterprise, aid, 
protect, and support our said committee in the full and free discharge of 
their duty and office, and use our most careful endeavors for the punish 
ment of all offenders. 

"And, forasmuch as these our public transactions are of a public nature, 
and, as we apprehend, laudable; and as we have no private interest to 
serve, or anything in view but the good of our country and its common 
cause : 

" Therefore, Voted, That these resolves be read once every day, at some 
convenient time and place, during our transitory state and temporary fel 
lowship, so that our righteousness may plead our cause, and bear a pub 
lic testimony that we are neither friends to mobs, or riots, or any other 
wickedness or abomination. 

"And, lastly, we Resolve, That we will yield all due respect and obedi- 

22 



254 THE ELECTION SERMON 

ceased ; nor have fraud and rapine taken advantage of the 
imbecility of the civil powers. 

The necessary preparations for the defence of our liber 
ties required not only the collected wisdom and strength 
of the colony, but an immediate, cheerful application of 
the wealth of individuals to the public service, in due 
proportion, or a taxation which depended on general con 
sent. Where was the authority to vote, collect, or receive 
the large sums required, and make provision for the utmost 
extremities? A Congress succeeded to the honors of a 

O 

General Assembly as soon as the latter was crushed by 
the hand of power. It gained all the confidence of the 
people. Wisdom and prudence secured all that the laws 
of the former constitution could have given ; and we now 
observe with astonishment an army of many thousands 
of well-disciplined troops suddenly assembled, and abun 
dantly furnished with all necessary supplies, in defence of 
the liberties of America. 

But is it proper or safe for the colony to continue much 
longer in such imperfect order? Must it not appear 
rational and necessary, to every man that understands the 
various movements requisite to good government, that the 
many parts should be properly settled, and every branch 
of the legislative and executive authority restored to that 
order and vigor on which the life and health of the body 



encc to those persons whom we shall choose and appoint for our officers 
and leaders," etc. " History of Cape Cod," by Rev. Frederick Freeman, 
Boston, 1800; a work of great value and interest, of which chapters "xix. 
xx. are additional to previous materials, and supply a passage in the moral 
history of the people the most difficult to be preserved. 

Mr. Burke, in March, 1775, reflecting on this singular spectacle of a 
people remaining in perfect order without a public council, judges, or ex 
ecutive magistrates, said: "Obedience is what makes government, and 
not the names by which it is called; not the name of governor, as for 
merly, or committee, as at present." ED. 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 255 

politic depend ? To the honorable gentlemen now met 
in this new congress as the fathers of the people, this 
weighty matter must be referred. Who knows but in the 
midst of all the distresses of the present war to defeat the 
attempts of arbitrary power, God may in mercy restore 
to us our judges as at the first, and our counsellors as at 
the beginning ? 

On your wisdom, religion, and public spirit, honored 
gentlemen, we depend, to determine what may be done as 
to the important matter of reviving the form of govern 
ment, and settling all necessary affairs relating to it in the 
present critical state of things, that we may again have 
law and justice, and avoid the danger of anarchy and con 
fusion. May God be with you, and by the influences of 
his Spirit direct all your counsels and resolutions for the 
glory of his name and the safety and happiness of this 
colony. We have great reason to acknowledge with 
thankfulness the evident tokens of the Divine presence 
with the former congress, that they were led to foresee 
present exigencies, and make such effectual provision for 
them. It is our earnest prayer to the Father of Lights 
that he would irradiate your minds, make all your way 
plain, and grant you may be happy instruments of rnnny 
and great blessings to the people by whom you are consti 
tuted, to New England, and all the united colonies. 

Let us praise our God 1 for the advantages already given 
us over the enemies of liberty, particularly that they have 
been so dispirited by repeated experience of the efficacy 
of our arms; and that, in the late action at Chelsea, when 
several hundreds of our soldiery, the greater part open to 

1 Governor Gage, in his proclamation of June 12, 1775, a few days after 
Dr. Langdon s sermon was preached, said: " To complete the horrid pro 
fanation of terms and of ideas, the name of God has been introduced in 
the pulpits to excite and justify devastation and massacre." ED. 



256 THE ELECTION SERMON 

the fire of so many cannon, swivels, and muskets, from a 
battery advantageously situated, from two armed cutters, 
and many barges full of marines, and from ships of the 
line in the harbor, not one man on our side was killed, 
and but two or three wounded ; when, by the best intelli 
gence, a great number were killed and wounded on the 
other side, and one of their cutters was taken and burnt, 
the other narrowly escaping with great damage/ 

If God be for us, who can be against us ? The enemy 
has reproached us for calling on his name, and professing 
our trust in him. They have made a mock of our solemn 
fasts, and every appearance of serious Christianity in the 
land. On this account, by way of contempt, they call us 
saints ; and that they themselves may keep at the greatest 
distance from this character, their mouths are full of horrid 
blasphemies, cursing, and bitterness, and vent all the rage 
of malice and barbarity. And may we not be confident 
that the Most High, who regards these things, will vindi 
cate his own honor, and plead our righteous cause against 
such enemies to his government, as well as our liberties? 
O, may our camp be free from every accursed thing ! May 
our land be purged from all its sins ! May we be truly a 
holy people, and all our towns cities of righteousness ! 



a This action was in the night following the twenty-seventh current, after our 
soldiery had been taking off the cattle from some islands in Boston harbor. By 
the best information we have been able to procure, about one hundred and five 
of the king s troops were killed, and one hundred and sixty wounded, in the 
engagement.i 

1 Frothingham, pp. 109, 110, says this was magnified into a battle, and 
dwelt upon with great exultation throughout the colonies. The loss of the 
enemy was probably exaggerated. Gordon, Letter xiv. 

Mr. Mansfield, in his Thanksgiving Sermon at Roxbury, November 23, 
1775, said: " Providence has likewise smiled upon the camp, in permitting 
so few fatal accidents, and evidently been its safeguard." He says: "I 
am informed that by means of upwards two thousand balls that have 
been thrown from the opposite lines, five men only have been taken off! 



AT WATERTOWN, MAY 31, 1775. 257 

Then the Lord will be our refuge and strength, a very 
present help in trouble, and we shall have no reason to 
be afraid though thousands of enemies set themselves 
against us round about, though all nature should be 
thrown into tumults and convulsions. He can command 
the stars in their courses to fight his battles, and all the 
elements to wage war with his enemies. He can destroy 
them with innumerable plagues, or send faintness into 
their hearts, so that the men of might shall not find their 
hands. In a variety of methods he can work salvation for 
us, as he did for his people in ancient days, and according 
to the many remarkable deliverances granted in former 
times to Great Britain and New England when popish 
machinations threatened both countries with civil and 
ecclesiastical tyranny. a 



a When we consider the late Canada Bill, which implies not merely a tolera 
tion of the Iloman Catholic religion (which would be just and liberal), but a tirm 
establishment of it through that extensive province, now greatly enlarged to 
serve political purposes, by which means multitudes of people, subjects of Great 
Britain, which may hereafter settle that vast country, will be tempted, by all the 
attachments arising from an establishment, to profess that religion, or be dis 
couraged from any endeavors to propagate reformed principles, have we not 
great reason to suspect that all the late measures respecting the colonies have 
originated from popish schemes of men who would gladly restore the race of 
Stuart, and who look on Popery as a religion most favorable to arbitrary 
power? It is a plain fact that despotism has an establishment in that province 
equally with the Roman Catholic Church. The governor, with a council very 
much under his power, has by his commission almost unlimited authority, free 
from the clog of representatives of the people. However agreeable this may be 
to the genius of the French, English subjects there will be discouraged from con 
tinuing in a country where both they and their posterity will be deprived of 
the greatest privileges of the British constitution, and in many respects feel the 
effects of absolute monarchy. 

Lord Littleton, in his defence of this detestable statute, frankly concedes that 

I perceive likewise that by means of about three hundred balls, etc., thrown 
into this place" Roxbury " in the course of one month, viz., from 
September 3 to October 3, but two were wounded (one but slightly; the 
other died, after some time, of his wound), and no man was immediately 
killed! It is to be remarked further, that not one person was hurt, in the 
course of above three hundred shells being thrown to a fortress erected 
upon Ploughed Hill," in Charlestown. ED. 

22* 



258 THE ELECTION SERMON AT WATERTOWN, 1775. 

May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble, and the 
name of the God of Jacob defend us, send us help from 
his sanctuary, and strengthen us out of Zion ! We will 
rejoice in his salvation, and in the name of our God we 
will set up our banners. Let us look to him to fulfil all 
our petitions. 



it is an establishment of the Roman Catholic religion, and that part of the pol 
icy of it was to provide a check upon the New England colonies. And the 
writer of an address of the people of Great Britain to the inhabitants of Amer 
ica, just published, expresses himself with great precision when he says "that 
statute gave toleration to English subjects." l 

1 See page xxxi. ED. 



SERMON 

PREACHED BEFORE THE 

HONORABLE COUNCIL, 



AND THE HONORABLE 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

OF THE 

COLONY of the MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, 

IN 

NEW-ENGLAND. 

MAY 2 9 th, 1776. 

BEING THE ANNIVERSARY FOR THE ELECTION OF 
THE HONORABLE COUNCIL FOR THE COLONY. 

BY SAMUEL WEST, A.M. 

PASTOR OF A CHURCH IN DARTMOUTH. 

And I will reftore thy judges as at the firft, and thy coun- 
fellors as at the beginning : afterward thou fhalt be 
called the city of righteoufnefs, the faithful city, ISA. 
4. 26 Their children alfo fhall be as aforetime, and 
their congregations fhall be eftablifhed before me, and 
I will punifh all that opprefs them : and their nobles 
, fhall be of themfelves, and their governor fhall proceed 
from the midlt of them, JERE. 30. 20. 21. As free 
and not ufing your liberty for a cloak of malicioufnefs, 
but as the fervants of G O D, i PETER 2 16. The 
beaft that thou faweft, fhall afcend out of the bottomlefs 
pit, and go into perdition : and they that dwell on the 
earth fhall wonder, whofe names were not written in 
the book of life from the foundation of the world, 
when they behold the beaft, REV. 17. ver. 8. 

BOSTON: 

PRINTED BY JOHN GILL, in QUEEN-STREET. 

1776. 



IT? COUNCIL, May 30, 1776. 

On motion, Ordered, That Thomas Gushing, Benjamin Lincoln, and Moses 
Gill, Esquires, be a Committee to wait on Rev. Mr. West, and return him the 
thanks of the Board for his Sermon delivered yesterday before both Houses of 
Assembly j and to request a copy thereof for the press. 

PEHEZ MORTON, D. Secretary. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



THE "Provincial Congress," or provisional government, after General 
Gage was renounced, October 7, 1774, and before which President Lang- 
don preached in 1775, was dissolved, by its own act, July 19, 1775, and 
on the same day was convened the new government, " The Honorable 
Council and the Honorable House of Representatives," before which the 
Rev. Mr. West now preached. This step in political progress was in 
itiated in this way : In an address, May 16, 1775, to the American Con 
gress at Philadelphia, " the representative body of the continent," 
the Massachusetts " Congress" said : " We have made all the preparation 
for our necessary defence that our confused state would admit of; and, as 
the question equally affected our sister colonies and us, we have declined, 
though urged thereto by the most pressing necessity, to assume the reins 
of civil government without their advice and consent. ... We are 
now compelled to raise an army, which, with the assistance of the other 
colonies, we hope, under the smiles of Heaven, will be able to defend us, 
and all America, from the further butcheries and devastations of our im 
placable enemies. . . . We hope you will favor us with your most 
explicit advice respecting the taking up and exercising the powers of civil 
government. ... As the sword should, in all free states, be subser 
vient to the civil powers, ... we beg leave to suggest to your con 
sideration the propriety of your taking the regulation and general direction 
of the army." 

Upon consideration of this application, the Continental Congress, June 
9, 1775, recommended to Massachusetts " to conform as near as may 
be to the spirit and substance of the charter; " to choose an assembly 
who should elect councillors, " which assembly and council should exercise 
the powers of government until a governor of his Majesty s appointment 
will consent to govern the colony according to its charter." This form 



262 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

was continued till the present constitution was adopted, in 1780, and John 
Hancock chosen governor. Their political ideas were happily expressed 
by the device on the bills of public credit, of August 18, 1775, which was 
the figure of an American, with a sword in his right hand, bearing Alger 
non Sydney s celebrated line, "Ense petit placidam sub libertafe quietem," 
and in his left hand Mayna Charta ; around the figure, " Issued in Defence 
of American Liberty." This, modified, is emblazoned on the shield of 
the " Commonwealth ; " the motto is still retained ; and thus Massachusetts 
displays in her state arms a memento of the cost of her liberty, and in 
the legend a perpetual memorial of her historical and political fellowship 
with that eminent school of republican statesmen of which Sydney, with 
Russell, was the glory, and whose " Discourses on Government " was, next 
after the Bible, the political text-book of the fathers of the Republic. 

On the 2d of July, "Washington entered Cambridge as commander-in- 
chief. The speech from the throne, October 26, 1775, announced to Par 
liament actual "rebellion" 1 in the colonies, and that the naval and land 
forces had been greatly augmented, and set forth the necessity of suf 
ficient force to suppress it. A bill was introduced interdicting all trade 
with the thirteen united colonies, and authorizing the capture of their 
property on the ocean. The Continental Congress retaliated by issuing 
letters of marque to cruise against the subjects of Great Britain, and by 
permitting trade with all the world but Great Britain and Ireland. 

The New England " Thanksgiving" the glad observance of which is 
now extended to nearly all the States in the Union, even to the Pacific 
was not omitted even in the gloomiest days of the struggle. The proc 
lamation for that anniversary in Massachusetts, intervening half way 
between the "election-days" of 1775 and 1770, is here given, as the object 
of this volume is to reproduce the facts, thoughts, and emotions of the 
days of the Revolution, as then expressed, for contemporary pictures 
are always the most faithful. 

A PROCLAMATION 

FOR A PUBLIC THANKSGIVING. 

Although, in consequence of the unnatural, cruel, and barbarous Meas 
ures adopted and pursued by the British Administration, great and dis 
tressing Calamities are brought upon our oppressed Country, and on this 

l See pp. 75, note 1, and 9395, 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 263 

Colony in particular; we feel the dreadful Effects of Civil War, by which 
America is stained with the Blood of her valiant Sons, who have bravely 
fallen in the laudable Defence of our Rights and Privileges; Our Cap 
ital, once the Scat of JUSTICE, Opulence, and Virtue, is unjustly wrested 
from its proper Owners, who are obliged to flee from the Iron Hand of 
Tyranny, or are held in the unrelenting Anns of Oppression; Our Sea 
ports greatly distressed, and Towns burnt by the Foes, who have acted 
the Part of barbarous Incendiaries. And although the wise and holy 
Governor of the World has in his righteous Providence sent Droughts 
into this Colony, and wasting Sickness into many of our Towns, yet we 
have the greatest Reason to adore and praise the Supreme Disposer of 
Events, who deals infinitely better with us than we deserve; and, amidst 
all his judgments, hath remembered Mercy, by causing the Voice of 
Health again to be heard amongst us : Instead of Famine, affording to an 
ungrateful People a Competency of the Necessaries and Comforts of Life; 
in remarkably preserving and protecting our Troops when in apparent 
Danger, while our Enemies, with all their boasted Skill and Strength, have 
met with Loss, Disappointment, and Defeat; and, in the Course of his 
good Providence, the Father of Mercies hath bestowed upon us many 
other Favors, Avhich call for our grateful Acknowledgments. 

Therefore, We have thought fit, with the Advice of the Council and 
House of Representatives, to appoint THURSDAY, the Twenty-third Day 
of November Instant, to be observed as a Day of Public THANKSGIV 
ING, throughout this Colony ; hereby calling upon Ministers and People 
to meet for religious Worship on said Day, and devoutly to offer up their 
unfeigned Praises to Almighty GOD, the Source and benevolent Bestower 
of all Good, for his affording the necessary Means of Subsistence, though 
our Commerce has been prevented, and the Supplies from the Fishery 
been denied us; That such a Measure of Health is enjoyed among us; 
That the Lives of our Officers and Soldiers have been so remarkably pre 
served, while our Enemies have fell before them ; That the vigorous 
Efforts which have been used to excite Savage Vengeance of the Wilder 
ness, and rouse the Indians to Arms, that an unavoidable Destruction 
might come upon our Frontiers, have been almost miraculously defeated; 
That our unnatural Enemies, instead of Ravaging the Country with un 
controlled Sway, are confined within such narrow Limits, to their own 
Mortification and Distress, environed by an American Army, brave and 
determined; That such a Band of Union, founded upon the best Prin 
ciples, unites the American Colonies ; That our Rights and Privileges, 



264 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

both Civil and Religious, are so far preserved to us, notwithstanding all 
the Attempts of our barbarous Enemies to deprive us of them. 

And to oifer up humble and fervent Prayers to Almighty GOD, for the 
whole British Empire, especially for the UNITED AMERICAN COLO 
NIES : That he would bless our Civil Rulers and lead them into wise 
and Prudent Measures in this dark and difficult Day : That he would 
endow our General Court with all that Wisdom which is profitable to 
direct: That he would graciously Smile upon our Endeavors to restore 
Peace, preserve our Rights and Privileges, and hand them down to 
Posterity : That he would give Wisdom to the American Congress equal 
to their important Station: That he would direct the Generals and the 
American Armies, wherever employed, and give them Success and Vic 
tory: That he would preserve and strengthen the harmony of the 
UNITED COLONIES: That he would pour out his Spirit upon all 
Orders of Men through the Land, bring us to a hearty Repentance and 
Reformation; purify and sanctify all his Churches: That he would 
make Ours Emanuel s Land: That he would spread the Knowledge 
of the Redeemer through the whole Earth, and fill the World with his 
Glory. All servile Labor is forbidden on said Day. 

GIVEN under our hands at the Council Chamber in WATERTOWN, this 
Fourth Day of November, in the Year of the LORD One Thousand Seven 
Hundred and Seventy-five. 

By their Honors Command, 

PEREZ MORTON, DEP Y SEC RY. 
JAMES OTIS, BENJAMIN LINCOLN, 

W. SPOONER, MICHAEL FARLEY, 

CALEB GUSHING, JOSEPH PALMER, 

JOSEPH GERRISH, SAMUEL HOLTON, 

JOHN WHITCOMB, JABEZ FISHER, 

JEDEDIAH FOSTER, MOSES GILL, 

JAMES PRESCOTT, BENJAMIN WHITE. 

ELDAD TAYLOR, 

tint 19t0gle. 



So the clouds of war gathered rapidly and heavily, and the Declaration 
of July Fourth sundered the colonies from the mother country, and they 
became a nation. 



265 



Boston having been evacuated by General Howe, March 17th, the 
present Legislature was convened, as in former days, in the old Town 
House, or State House, as it then began to be called. The sermon was 
preached, as of old, in the "old brick meeting-house" near by, on the 
site which had been dedicated to the worship of God ever since 1640. 
It is now occupied by " Joy s Building." 

The preacher, Samuel West, minister of Dartmouth, was not behind 
his professional brethren in zeal for the welfare and liberty of his country, 
nor in vigorous defence of her rights, both in the pulpit and by the press. 
He was an able and acute reasoner, and distinguished in metaphysical 
speculations with the Edwardses, father and son. The pi esent Discourse 
was specially devoted to a consideration of the true principles of govern 
ment, and a close application of them to Britain and her colonies. He 
was a member of the convention for forming the Constitution of Massa 
chusetts, and of that of 1788, which ratified the constitution of the 
United States. With him the patriot Otis 

" Favored man, by touch ethereal slain" 

resided for a while after his retirement. Dr. West was born at Yarmouth, 
on Cape Cod, March 4, 1730, a subject of George II., graduated at Harvard 
College in 1754, and died September 24, 1807, aged seventy-seven, a 
citizen of the United States. 

The texts on the title-page of the sermon admirably exhibit the political 
hopes of that day, the wish for reconciliation and the reestablishment of 
the old relations to the mother country, and the intensity of the times. 

The councillors elected for the memorable year 1770 were 

For the late Colony of MASSACHUSETTS BAY : 

Hon. JAMES BOWDOIN, Esq.; Hon. BENJAMIN LINCOLN, Esq.; 

ARTEMAS WARD, Esq.; SAMUEL HOLTON, Esq.; 

BENJ. GREENLEAF, Esq.; JABEZ FISHER, Esq.; 

CALEB CUSHING, Esq.; MOSES GILL, Esq.; 

JOHN WINTHROP, Esq.; BENJ. WHITE, Esq.; 

RICH. DERBY, JUN., Esq.; WM. PHILLIPS, Esq.; 

THOMAS GUSHING, Esq.; BENJ. AUSTIN, Esq.; 

JOHN WHITCOMB, Esq.; EBEN. THAYER, JUN., Esq.; 

ELDAD TAYLOR, Esq.; FRANCIS DANE, Esq. 

23 



266 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

For the late Colony of NEW PLYMOUTH : 
Hon. WM. SEVER, Esq.; Hon. DAN. DAVIS, Esq.; 

WALTER SPOONER, Esq.; Jos. CUSHING, Esq. 

For the Province of MAINE : 

Hon. JERE. POWELL, Esq.; Hon. DAVID SEWELL, Esq.; 

Hon. BENJ. CHADBOURN, Esq. 

For SAGADAHOCK : 
Hon. JOHN TAYLOR, Esq. 

AT LARGE: 
Hon. HENRY GARDNER, Esq. ; Hon. DANIEL HOPKINS, Esq. 

Previous to the election the following gentlemen, who were of the 
last Council, resigned their seats at the Board, viz. : 

Hon. JAMES OTIS, Esq.; Hon. ENOCH FREEMAN, Esq.; 

JOHN ADAMS, Esq.; CHARLES CHAUNCY, Esq.; 

JEDEDIAH FOSTER, Esq.; JOSEPH PALMER, Esq. 



DISCOURSE VI. 

ELECTION SERMON". 



PUT THEM IN MIND TO BE SUBJECT TO PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS, TO 
OBEY MAGISTRATES, TO BE READY TO EVERY GOOD WORK. TitUS ill. 1. 



THE great Creator, having designed the human race for 
society, has made us dependent on one another for happi 
ness. He has so constituted us that it becomes both our 
duty and interest to seek the public good ; and that we 
may be the more firmly engaged to promote each other s 
welfare, the Deity has endowed us with tender and social 
affections, with generous and benevolent principles : hence 
the pain that we feel in seeing an object of distress; hence 
the satisfaction that arises in relieving the afflictions, and 
the superior pleasure which we experience in communi 
cating happiness to the miserable. The Deity has also 
invested us with moral powers and faculties, by which we 
are enabled to discern the difference between right and 
wrong, truth and falsehood, good and evil : hence the ap 
probation of mind that arises upon doing a good action, 
and the remorse of conscience which we experience when 
we counteract the moral sense and do that which is evil. 
This proves that, in what is commonly called a state of 
nature, we are the subjects of the divine law and govern 
ment ; that the Deity is our supreme magistrate, who has 
written his law in our hearts, and will reward or punish us 
according as we obey or disobey his commands. Had the 



268 



human race uniformly persevered in a state of moral recti 
tude, there would ha\ 7 e been little or no need of any other 
law besides that which is written in the heart, for every 
one in such a state would be a law unto himself. There 
could be no occasion for enacting or enforcing of penal 
laws ; for such are " not made for the righteous man, but 
for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly, and for 
sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of 
fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for 
whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with man 
kind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if 
there be any other thing that is contrary to" moral recti 
tude and the happiness of mankind. The necessity of 
forming ourselves into politic bodies, and granting to our 
rulers a power to enact laws for the public safety, and to 
enforce them by proper penalties, arises from our being in 
a fallen and degenerate state. The slightest view of the 
present state and condition of the human race is abun 
dantly sufficient to convince any person of common sense 
and common honesty that civil government is absolutely 
necessary for the peace and safety of mankind ; and, con 
sequently, that all good magistrates, while 1 they faithfully 
discharge the trust reposed in them, ought to be religiously 
and conscientiously obeyed. An enemy to good govern 
ment is an enemy not only to his country, but to all man 
kind ; for he plainly shows himself to be divested of those 
tender and social sentiments which are characteristic of a 
human temper, even of that generous and benevolent dis 
position which is the peculiar glory of a rational creature. 
An enemy to good government has degraded himself 
below the rank and dignity of a man, and deserves to be 
classed with the lower creation. 2 Hence we find that wise 
and good men, of all nations and religions, have ever incul- 

i See pp. 72, 75-77. ED. 2 See pp. 69-74, and notes. ED. 



269 



cated subjection to good government, and have borne their 
testimony against the licentious disturbers of the public 
peace. 

Noi has Christianity been deficient in this capital point. 
We find our blessed Saviour directing the Jews to render 
to Caesar the things that were Caesar s ; and the apostles 
and first preachers of the gospel not only exhibited a good 
example of subjection to the magistrate, in all things that 
were just and lawful, but they have also, in several places 
in the New Testament, strongly enjoined upon Christians 
the duty of submission to that government under which 
Providence had placed them. Hence we find that those 
who despise government, and are not afraid to speak evil 
of dignities, are, by the apostles Peter and Jude, classed 
among those presumptuous, self-willed sinners that are re 
served to the judgment of the great day. And the apostle 
Paul judged submission to civil government to be a mat 
ter of such great importance, that he thought it worth his 
while to charge Titus to put his hearers in mind to be sub 
missive to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, 
to be ready to every good work ; as much as to say, none 
can be ready to every good work, or be properly disposed 
to perform those actions that tend to promote the public 
good, who do not obey magistrates, and who do not become 
good subjects of civil government. 1 If, then, obedience to 
the civil magistrates is so essential to the character of a 
Christian, that without it he cannot be disposed to perform 
those good works that are necessary for the welfare of 
mankind, if the despisers of governments are those pre 
sumptuous, self-willed sinners who are reserved to the 
judgment of the great day, it is certainly a matter of the 
utmost importance to us all to be thoroughly acquainted 

i See pp. 54-61. ED. 
23* 



270 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

with the nature and extent of our duty, that we may yield 
the obedience required ; for it is impossible that we should 
properly discharge a duty when we are strangers to the 
nature and extent of it. 

In order, therefore, that we may form a right judgment 
of the duty enjoined in our text, I shall consider the nature 
and design of civil government, and shall show that the 
same principles which oblige us to submit to government 
do equally oblige us to resist tyranny ; or that tyranny and 
magistracy are so opposed to each other that where the 
one begins the other ends. 1 I shall then apply the present 
discourse to the grand controversy that at this day subsists 
between Great Britain and the American colonies. 

That we may understand the nature and design of civil 
government, and discover the foundation of the magis 
trate s authority to command, and the duty of subjects to 
obey, it is necessary to derive civil government from its 
original, in order to which we must consider what "state 
all men are naturally in, and that is (as Mr. Locke ob 
serves) a state of perfect freedom to order all their ac 
tions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they 
think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without 
asking leave or depending upon the will of any man." It 
is a state wherein all are equal, no one having a right to 
control another, or oppose him in what he does, unless it 
be in his own defence, or in the defence of those that, 
being injured, stand in need of his assistance. 

Had men persevered in a state of moral rectitude, every 
one w r ould have been disposed to follow the law of na 
ture, and pursue the general good. In such a state, the 
wisest and most experienced would undoubtedly be cho 
sen to guide and direct those of less wisdom and expe 
rience than themselves, there being nothing else that 

1 See pages 62, 67 note 1; 69, 74, note 1. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 271 

could afford the least show or appearance of any one s hav 
ing the superiority or precedency over another ; for the 
dictates of conscience and the precepts of natural law be 
ing uniformly and regularly obeyed, men would only need 
to be informed what things were most fit and prudent to 
be done in those cases where their inexperience or want 
of acquaintance left their minds in doubt what was the 
wisest and most regular method for them to pursue. In 
such cases it would be necessary for them to advise with 
those who were wiser and more experienced than them 
selves. But these advisers could claim no authority to 
compel or to use any forcible measures to oblige any one 
to comply with their direction or advice. There could be 
no occasion for the exertion of such a power; for every 
man, being under the government of right reason, would 
immediately feel himself constrained to comply with every 
thing that appeared reasonable or fit to be done, or that 
would any way tend to promote the general good. This 
would have been the happy state of mankind had they 
closely adhered to the law of nature, and persevered in 
their primitive state. 

Thus we see that a state of nature, though it be a state 
of perfect freedom, yet is very far from a state of licen 
tiousness. The law of nature gives men no right to do 
anything that is immoral, or contrary to the will of God, 
and injurious to their fellow-creatures ; for a state of nature 
is properly a state of law and government, even a gov 
ernment founded upon the unchangeable nature of the 
Deity, and a law resulting from the eternal fitness of 
things. Sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, and 
the whole frame of nature be dissolved, than any part, 
even the smallest iota, of this law shall ever be ab 
rogated ; it is unchangeable as the Deity himself, being 



272 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

a transcript of his moral perfections. A revelation, 1 pre 
tending to be from God, that contradicts any part of nat 
ural law, ought immediately to be rejected as an impos 
ture ; for the Deity cannot make a law contrary to the law 
of nature without acting contrary to himself, a thing in 
the strictest sense impossible, for that which implies con 
tradiction is not an object of the divine power. Had this 
subject been properly attended to 2 and understood, the 
world had remained free from a multitude of absurd and 
pernicious principles, which have been industriously prop 
agated by artful and designing men, both in politics and 
divinity. The doctrine of non-resistance and unlimited 
passive obedience to the worst of tyrants could never have 
found credit among mankind had the voice of reason been 
hearkened to for a guide, because such a doctrine would 
immediately have been discerned to be contrary to natural 
law. 

In a state of nature we have a right to make the persons 
that have injured us repair the damages that they have 
done us ; and it is just in us to inflict such punishment 
upon them as is necessary to restrain them from doing the 
like for the future, the whole end and design of punishing 
being either to reclaim the individual punished, or to deter 
others from being guilty of similar crimes. Whenever 
punishment exceeds these bounds it becomes cruelty and 
revenge, and directly contrary to the law of nature. Our 
wants and necessities being such as to render it impossible 
in most cases to enjoy life in any tolerable degree without 
entering into society, and there being innumerable cases 
wherein we need the assistance of others, which if not af 
forded we should very soon perish ; hence the law of na 
ture requires that we should endeavor to help one another 
to the utmost of our power in all cases where our assist- 

1 See pages 67 note 1, 86 note a. ED. 2 See pages 53, 54. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 273 

ance is necessary. It is our duty to endeavor always to 
promote the general good ; to do to all as we would be 
willing to be done by were we in their circumstances; to 
do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God. 
These are some of the laws of nature which every man in 
the world is bound to observe, and which whoever violates 
exposes himself to the resentment of mankind, the lashes 
of his own conscience, and the judgment of Heaven. This 
plainly shows that the highest state of liberty subjects us 
to the law of nature and the government of God. The 
most perfect freedom consists in obeying the dictates of 
right reason, and submitting to natural law. When a man 
goes beyond or contrary to the law of nature and reason, 
he becomes the slave of base passions and vile lusts ; he 
introduces confusion and disorder into society, and brings 
misery and destruction upon himself. This, therefore, can 
not be called a state of freedom, but a state of the vilest 
slavery and the most dreadful bondage. The servants of 
sin and corruption are subjected to the worst kind of 
tyranny in the universe. Hence we conclude that where 
licentiousness begins, liberty ends. 

The law of nature is a perfect standard and measure of 
action for beings that persevere in a state of moral recti 
tude ; but the case is far different with us, who are in a 
fallen and degenerate estate. We have a law in our mem 
bers which is continually warring against the law of the 
mind, by which we often become enslaved to the basest 
lusts, and are brought into bondage to the vilest passions. 
The strong propensities of our animal nature often over 
come the sober dictates of reason and conscience, and 
betray us into actions injurious to the public and destruc 
tive of the safety and happiness of society. Men of un 
bridled lusts, were they not restrained by the power of 
the civil magistrate, would spread horror and desolation 



274 



all around them. This makes it absolutely necessary that 
societies should form themselves into politic bodies, that 
they may enact laws for the public safety, and appoint par 
ticular penalties for the violation of their laws, arid invest 
a suitable number of persons with authority to put in 
execution and enforce the laws of the state, in order that 
wicked men may be restrained from doing mischief to 
their fellow-creatures, that the injured may have their 
rights restored to them, that the virtuous may be encour 
aged in doing good, and that every member of society 
may be protected and secured in the peaceable, quiet pos 
session and enjoyment of all those liberties and privileges 
which the Deity has bestowed upon him; i. 6., that he 
may safely enjoy and pursue whatever he chooses, that is 
consistent with the public good. This shows that the end 
and design of civil government cannot be to deprive men 
of their liberty or take away their freedom ; but, on the 
contrary, the true design of civil government is to protect 
men in the enjoyment of liberty. 1 

From hence it follows that tyranny and arbitrary power 
are utterly inconsistent with and subversive of the very 
end and design of civil government, and directly contrary 
to natural law, which is the true foundation of civil gov 
ernment and all politic law. Consequently, the authority 
of a tyrant is of itself null and void ; for as no man can 
have a right to act contrary to the law of nature, it is 
impossible that any individual, or even the greatest number 
of men, can confer a right upon another of which they 
themselves are not possessed ; i. e., no body of men can 
justly and lawfully authorize any person to tyrannize 
over and enslave his fellow-creatures, or do anything con 
trary to equity and goodness. As magistrates have no 
authority but what they derive from the people, whenever 

i Pages 69, 78. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 275 

they act contrary to the public good, and pursue measures 
destructive of the peace and safety of the community, 
they forfeit their right to govern the people. Civil rulers 
and magistrates are properly of human creation ; they are 
set up by the people to be the guardians of their rights, 
and to secure their persons from being injured or op 
pressed, the safety of the public being the supreme law 
of the state, by which the magistrates are to be govei^ied, 
and which they are to consult upon all occasions. The 
modes of administration may be very different, arid the 
forms 1 of government may vary from each other in differ 
ent ages and nations ; but, under every form, the end of 
civil government is the same, and cannot vary : it is like 
the laws of the Medes and Persians it altereth not. 

Though magistrates are to consider themselves as the 
servants of the people, seeing from them it is that they 
derive their power and authority, yet they may also be 
considered as the ministers of God ordained by him for 
the good of mankind; 2 for, under him, as the Supreme 
Magistrate of the universe, they are to act : and it is God 
who has riot only declared in his word what are the neces 
sary qualifications of a ruler, but who also raises up and 
qualifies men for such an important station. The magis 
trate may also, in a more strict and proper sense, be said 
to be ordained of God, because reason, which is the voice 
of God, plainly requires such an order of men to be ap 
pointed for the public good. Now, whatever right reason 
requires as necessary to be done is as much the will and 
law of God as though it were enjoined us by an immedi 
ate revelation from heaven, or commanded in the sacred 
Scriptures. 

From this account of the origin, nature, and design of 
, civil government, we may be very easily led into a thor- 

1 Page 82. ED. 2 p age s 75-77. ED. 



276 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

ough knowledge of o ur duty ; we may see the reason why 
we are bound to obey magistrates, viz., because they are 
the ministers of God for good unto the people. While, 
therefore, they rule in the fear of God, and while they 
promote the welfare of the state, i. e., while they act in 
the character of magistrates, it is the indispensable duty 
of all to submit to them, and to oppose a turbulent, fac 
tious, and libertine spirit, whenever and wherever it dis 
covers itself. When a people have by their free consent 
conferred upon a number of men a power to rule and gov 
ern them, they are bound to obey them. Hence disobe 
dience becomes a breach of faith ; it is violating a consti 
tution of their own appointing, and breaking a compact 
for which they ought to have the most sacred regard. 
Such a conduct discovers so base and disingenuous a tem 
per of mind, that it must expose them to contempt in the 
judgment of all the sober, thinking part of mankind. 
Subjects are bound to obey lawful magistrates by every 
tender tie of human nature, which disposes us to consult 
the public good, and to seek the good of our brethren, our 
wives, our children, our friends and acquaintance ; for he 
that opposes lawful authority does really oppose the safety 
and happiness of his fellow-creatures. A factious, sedi 
tious person, that opposes good government, is a monster 
in nature ; for he is an enemy to his own species, and des 
titute of the sentiments of humanity. 1 

Subjects are also bound to obey magistrates, for con 
science sake, out of regard to the divine authority, and 
out of obedience to the will of God ; 2 for if magistrates 
are the ministers of God, we cannot disobey them without 
being disobedient to the law of God ; and this extends to 
all men in authority, from the highest ruler to the lowest 
officer in the state. To oppose them when in the exercise 

i See p. 87, note. ED. 2 See p. 64. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 277 

of lawful authority is an act of disobedience to the Deity, 
and, as such, will be punished by him. It will, doubtless, 
be readily granted by every honest man that we ought 
cheerfully to obey the magistrate, and submit to all such 
regulations of government as tend to promote the public 
good ; but as this general definition may be liable to be 
misconstrued, and every man may think himself at liberty 
to disregard any laws that do not suit his interest, hurnor, 
or fancy, I would observe that, in a multitude of cases, 
many of us, for want of being properly acquainted with 
affairs of state, may be very improper judges of particular 
laws, whether they are just or not. In such cases it be 
comes us, as good members of society, peaceably and con 
scientiously to submit, though we cannot see the reason 
ableness of every law to which we submit, and that for 
this plain reason : if any number of men should take it 
upon themselves to oppose authority for acts, which may 
be really necessary for the public safety, only because 
they do not see the reasonableness of them, the direct 
consequence will be introducing confusion and anarchy 
into the state. 

It is also necessary that the minor part should submit to 
the major ; e. g., when legislators have enacted a set of 
laws which are highly approved by a large majority of the 
community as tending to promote the public good, in this 
case, if a small number of persons are so unhappy as to 
view the matter in a very different point of light from the 
public, though they have an undoubted right to show the 
reasons of their dissent from the judgment of the public, 
and may lawfully use all proper arguments to convince the 
public of what they judge to be an error, yet, if they fail 
in their attempt, and the majority still continue to approve 
of the laws that are enacted, it is the duty of those few 
that dissent peaceably and for conscience sake to submit 
24 



278 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

to the public judgment, unless something is required of 
them which they judge would be sinful for them to comply 
with ; for in that case tfyey ought to obey the dictates of 
their own consciences rather than any human authority 
whatever. 1 Perhaps, also, some cases of intolerable op 
pression, where compliance would bring on inevitable ruin 
and destruction, may. justly warrant the few to refuse sub 
mission to what they judge inconsistent with their peace 
and safety ; for the law of self-preservation will always 
justify opposing a cruel and tyrannical imposition, except 
where opposition is attended with greater evils than sub 
mission, which. is frequently the case where a few are op 
pressed by a large and powerful majority. 3 Except the 
above-named cases, the minor ought always .to submit to 
the major; otherwise, there can be no peace nor harmony 
in society. And, besides, it is the major part of a com 
munity that have the sole right of establishing a constitu 
tion and authorizing magistrates ; and consequently it is 
only the major part of the community that can claim the 
right of altering the constitution, and displacing the magis 
trates ; for certainly common sense will tell us "that it 
requires as great an authority to set aside a constitution 
as there was at first to establish it. The collective body, 
not a few individuals, ought to constitute the supreme au 
thority of the state. 

The only difficulty remaining is to determine when a 
people may claim a right of forming themselves into a 



a This shows the reason why the primitive Christians did not oppose the cruel 
persecutions that were inflicted upon them by the heathen magistrates. They 
were few compared with the heathen world, and for them to have attempted to 
resist their enemies by force would have been like a small parcel of sheep en 
deavoring to oppose a large number of ravening wolves and savage beasts of 
prey. It would, without a miracle, have brought upon them inevitable ruin and 
destruction. Hence the wise and prudent advice of our Saviour to them is, 
" When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another." 1 

i Seep. 295. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 279 

body politic, and assume the powers of legislation. In 
order to determine this point, we are to remember that all 
men being by nature equal, all the members of a com 
munity have a natural right to assemble themselves to 
gether, and act and vote for such regulations as they 
judge are necessary for the good of the whole. But when 
a community is become very numerous, it is very difficult, 
and in many cases impossible, for all to meet together to 
regulate the affairs of the state; hence comes the necessity 
of appointing delegates to represent the people in a gen 
eral assembly. And this ought to be looked upon as a 
sacred and inalienable right, of which a people cannot 
justly divest themselves, and which no human authority 
can in equity ever take from them, viz., that no one be 
obliged to submit to any law except such as are made 
either by himself or by his representative. 

If representation and legislation are inseparably con 
nected, it follows, that when great numbers have emigrated 
into a foreign land, and are so far removed from the parent 
state that they neither are or can be properly represented 
by the government from which they have emigrated, that 
then nature itself points out the necessity of their assum 
ing to themselves the powers of legislation ; and they 
have a right to consider themselves as a separate state 
from the other, and, as such, to form themselves into a 
body politic. 

In the next place, when a people find themselves cruelly 
oppressed by the parent state, they have an undoubted 
right to throw off the yoke, 1 and to assert their liberty, 
if they find good reason to judge that they have sufficient 
power and strength to maintain their ground in defending 
their just rights against their oppressors; for, in this case, 
by the law of self-preservation, which is the first law of 

i See pp. 93-95. ED. 



280 



nature, they have not only an undoubted right, but it is 
their indispensable duty, if they cannot be redressed any 
other way, to renounce all submission to the government 
that has oppressed them, and set up an independent state 
of their own, even though they may be vastly inferior in 
numbers to the state that has oppressed them. When 
either of the aforesaid cases takes place, and more espe 
cially when both concur, no rational man, I imagine, can 
have any doubt in his own mind whether such a people 
have a right to form themselves into a body politic, and 
assume to themselves all the powers of a free state. For, 
can it be rational to suppose that a people should be 
subjected to the tyranny of a set of men 1 who are perfect 
strangers to them, and cannot be supposed to have that 
fellow-feeling for them that we generally have for those 
with whom we are connected and acquainted; and, besides, 
through their unacquaintedness with the circumstances of 
the people over whom they claim the right of jurisdiction, 
are utterly unable to judge, in a multitude of cases, which 
is best for them ? 

It becomes me not to say what particular form 2 of gov 
ernment is best for a community, whether a pure democ 
racy, aristocracy, monarchy, or a mixture of all the three 
simple forms. They have all their advantages and disad 
vantages, and when they are properly administered may, 
any of them, answer the design of civil government toler 
ably. Permit me, however, to say, that an unlimited, 
absolute monarchy, and an aristocracy not subject to the 
control of the people, are two of the most exceptionable 
forms of government : firstly, because in neither of them 
is there a proper representation of the people ; and, sec- 

1 As, for instance, in the case in hand, the British Parliament and the 
American colonies, pp. 110,206. ED. 

2 See pp. 80, 81, 82. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 281 

ondly, because each of them being entirely independent 
of the people, they are very apt to degenerate into tyranny. 
However, in this imperfect state, we cannot expect to have 
government formed upon such a basis but that it may be 
perverted by bad men to evil purposes. A wise and good 
man would be very loth to undermine a constitution that 
was once fixed and established, although he might dis 
cover many imperfections in it ; and nothing short of the 
most urgent necessity would ever induce him to consent 
to it ; because the unhinging a people from a form of gov 
ernment to which they had been long accustomed might 
throw them into such a state of anarchy and confusion as 
might .terminate in their destruction, or perhaps, in the 
end, subject them to the worst kind of tyranny. 

Having thus shown the nature, end, and design of civil 
government, and pointed out the reasons why subjects are 
bound-to obey magistrates, viz., because in so doing they 
both consult their own happiness as individuals, and also 
promote the public good and the safety of the state, I 
proceed, in the next place, to show that the same princi 
ples that oblige us to submit to civil government do also 
equally oblige us, where we have power and ability, to 
resist and oppose tyranny ; and that where tyranny begins 
government ends. 1 For, if magistrates have no authority 
but what they derive from the people ; if they are properly 
of human creation ; if the whole end and design of their 
institution is to promote the general good, and to secure to 
men their just rights, it will follow, that when they act 
contrary to the end and design of their creation they 
cease being magistrates, and the people which gave them 
their authority have the right to take it from them again. 
This is a very plain dictate of common sense, which uni- 

i Sec pp. 73, 74, note 1 ; 93-96. ED. 
24* 



282 



versally obtains in all similar cases ; for who is there that, 
having employed a number of men to do a particular piece 
of work for him, but what would judge that he had a right 
to dismiss them from his service when he found that they 
went directly contrary to his orders, and that, instead of 
accomplishing the business he had set them about, they 
would infallibly ruin and destroy it? If, then, men, in the 
common affairs of life, always judge that they have a right 
to dismiss from their service such persons as counteract 
their plans and designs, though the damage will affect 
only a few individuals, much more must the body politic 
have a right to depose any persons, though appointed to 
the highest place of power and authority, when they find 
that they are unfaithful to the trust reposed in them, and 
that, instead of consulting the general good, they are dis 
turbing the peace of society by making laws cruel and 
oppressive, and by depriving the subjects of their just 
rights and privileges. Whoever pretends to deny this 
proposition must give up all pretence of being master of 
that common sense and reason by which the Deity has 
distinguished us from the brutal herd. 1 

As our duty of obedience to the magistrate is founded 
upon our obligation to promote the general good, our 
readiness to obey lawful authority will always arise in 
proportion to the love and regard that we have for the 
welfare of the public ; and the same love and regard for 
the public will inspire us with as strong a zeal to oppose 
tyranny as we have to obey magistracy. Our obligation 
to promote the public good extends as much to the oppos 
ing every exertion of arbitrary power that is injurious to 
the state as it does to the submitting to good and whole 
some laws. No man, therefore, can be a good member of 

i See pp. 71, 72. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 283 

the community that is not as zealous to oppose tyranny as 
he is ready to obey magistracy. A slavish submission to 
tyranny is a proof of a very sordid and base mind. 1 Such 
a person cannot be under the influence of any generous 
human sentiments, nor have a tender regard for mankind. 

Further : if magistrates are no farther ministers of God 
than they promote the good of the community, then obe 
dience to them neither is nor can be unlimited ; for it 
would imply a gross absurdity to assert that, when magis 
trates are ordained by the people solely for the purpose of 
being beneficial to the state, they must be obeyed when 
they are seeking to ruin and destroy it. This would imply 
that men were bound to act against the great law of self- 
preservation, and to contribute their assistance to their 
own ruin and destruction, in order that they may please 
and gratify the greatest monsters in nature, who are violat 
ing the laws of God and destroying the rights of mankind. 
Unlimited submission and obedience is due to none but 
God alone. He has an absolute right to command ; he 
alone has an uncontrollable sovereignty over us, because he 
alone is unchangeably good ; he never will nor can require 
of us, consistent with his nature and attributes, anything 
that is not fit and reasonable ; his commands are all just 
and good ; and to suppose that he has given to any partic 
ular set of men a power to require obedience to that which 
is unreasonable, cruel, and unjust, is robbing the Deity of 
his justice and goodness, in which consists the peculiar 
glory of the divine character, and it is representing him 
under the horrid character of a tyrant. 2 

If magistrates are ministers of God only because the 
law of God and reason points out the necessity of such an 
institution for the good of mankind, it follows, that when 
ever they pursue measures directly destructive of the pub- 

i P. 51 . ED. 2 See p. 95. ED. 



284 



lie good they cease being God s ministers, they forfeit their 
right to obedience from the subject, they become the pests 1 
of society, and the community is under the strongest obli 
gation of duty, 2 both to God and to its own members, to 
resist and oppose them, which will be so far from resisting 
the ordinance of God that it will be strictly obeying his 
commands. 3 To suppose otherwise will imply that the 
Deity requires of us an obedience that is self-contradictory 
and absurd, and that one part of his law is directly con 
trary to the other ; i. e., while he commands us to pursue 
virtue and the general good, he does at the same time re 
quire us to persecute virtue, and betray the general good, 
by enjoining us obedience to the wicked commands of 
tyrannical oppressors. Can any one not lost to the princi 
ples of humanity undertake to defend such absurd senti 
ments as these? As the public safety is the first and grand 
law of society, so no community can have a right to invest 
the magistrate with any power or authority that will ena 
ble him to act against the welfare of the state and the 
good of the whole. If men have at any time wickedly 
and foolishly given up their just rights into the hands of 
the magistrate, such acts are null and void, of course ; to 
suppose otherwise will imply that we have a right to in 
vest the magistrate with a power to act contrary to the 
law of God, which is as much as to say that we are not 
the subjects of divine law and government. What has 
been said is, I apprehend, abundantly sufficient to show that 
tyrants are no magistrates, 4 or that whenever magistrates 
abuse their power and authority to the subverting the pub 
lic happiness, their authority immediately ceases, and that 
it not only becomes lawful, but an indispensable duty to 



1 See p. 78. ED. 3 See p. 62, note 1. ED. 

2 See p. 83, note 1. ED. 4 See p. 94, note a. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 285 

oppose them ; that the principle of self-preservation, the 
affection and duty that we owe to our country, and the 
obedience we owe the Deity, do all require us to oppose 
tyranny. 

If it be asked, Who are the proper judges 1 to determine 
when rulers are guilty of tyranny and oppression ? I an 
swer, the-public. Not a few disaffected individuals, but the 
collective body of the state, must decide this question ; 
for, as it is the collective body that invests rulers with their 
power and authority, so it is the collective body that has 
the sole right of judging whether rulers act up to the end 
of their institution or not. Great regard ought always to 
be paid to the judgment of the public. It is true the 
public may be imposed upon by a misrepresentation of 
facts; but this maybe said of the public, which cannot 
always be said of individuals, viz., that the public is always 
willing to be rightly informed, and when it has proper 
matter of conviction laid before it its judgment is always 
right. 

This account of the nature and design of civil govern 
ment, which is so clearly suggested to us by the plain 
principles of common sense and reason, is abundantly con 
firmed by the sacred Scriptures, even by those very texts 
which have been brought by men of slavish principles to 
establish the absurd doctrine of unlimited passive obedi 
ence and non-resistance, as will abundantly appear by ex 
amining the two most noted texts that are commonly 
brought to support the strange doctrine of passive obedi 
ence. The first that I shall cite is in 1 Peter ii. 13, 14: 
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man," or, 
rather, as the words ought to be rendered from the Greek, 
submit yourselves to every human creation, or human con 
stitution, " for the Lord s sake, whether it be to the king 

i See p. 86, note a. ED. 



286 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent 
by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise 
of them that do well." 1 Here we see that the apostle 
asserts that magistracy is of human creation or appoint 
ment ; that is, that magistrates have no power or authority 
but what they derive from the people ; that this power 
they are to exert for the punishment of evil-doers, and for 
the praise of them that do well ; i. e., the end and design 
of the appointment of magistrates is to restrain wicked 
men, by proper penalties, from injuring society, and to en 
courage and honor thje virtuous and obedient. Upon this 
account Christians are to submit to them for the Lord s 
sake ; which is as if he had said, Though magistrates are 
of mere human appointment, and can claim no power or 
authority but what they derive from the people, yet, as 
they are ordained by men to promote the general good by 
punishing evil-doers and by rewarding and encouraging 
the virtuous and obedient, you ought to submit to them 
out of a sacred regard to the divine authority ; for as they, 
in the faithful discharge of their office, do fulfil the will of 
God, so ye, by submitting to them, do fulfil the divine 
command. If the only reason assigned by the apostle 
why magistrates should be obeyed out of a regard to the 
divine authority is because they punish the wicked and 
encourage the good, it follows, that when they punish the 
virtuous and encourage the vicious we have a right to 
refuse yielding any submission or obedience to them ; i. e., 
whenever they act contrary to the end and design of their 
institution, they forfeit their authority to govern the peo 
ple, and the reason for submitting to them, out of regard 
to the divine authority, immediately ceases ; and, they being 
only of human appointment, the authority which the peo- 

* Compare these pages with Dr. Mayhew s, in 1750, p. 23. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 287 

pie gave them the public have a right to take from them, 
and to confer it upon those who are more worthy. So far 
is this text from favoring arbitrary principles, that there is 
nothing in it but what is consistent with and favorable to 
the highest liberty that any man can wish to enjoy; for 
this text requires us to submit to the magistrate no further 
than he is the encourager and protector of virtue and the 
punisherof vice ; and this is consistent with all that liberty 
which the Deity has bestowed upon us. 1 

The other text which I shall mention, and which has 
been made use of by the favorers of arbitrary government 
as their great sheet-anchor and main support, is in Rom. 
xiii., the first six verses: "Let every soul be subject to 
the higher powers ; for there is no power but of God. 
The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever 
therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of 
God ; and they that resist shall receive to themselves dam 
nation ; for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to 
the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? 
Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the 
same : for he is the minister of God to thee for good. 
But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth 
not the sword in vain : for he is the minister of God, a re 
venger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. Where 
fore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also 
for conscience sake. For, for this cause pay you tribute 
also; for they are God s ministers, attending continually 
upon this very thing." A very little attention, I appre 
hend, will be sufficient to show that this text is so far from 
favoring arbitrary government, that, on the contrary, it 
strongly holds forth the principles of true liberty. Sub 
jection to the higher powers is enjoined by the apostle 
because there is no power but of God ; the powers that be 

i Seep. 78. ED. 



288 



are ordained of God ; consequently, to resist the power is 
to resist the ordinance of God : and he repeatedly declares 
that the ruler is the minister of God. Now, before we can 
say whether this text makes for or against the doctrine of 
unlimited passive obedience, we must find out in what 
sense the apostle affirms that magistracy is the ordinance 
of God, and what he intends when he calls the ruler the 
minister of God. 

I can think but of three possible senses in which magis 
tracy can with any propriety be called God s ordinance, or 
in which rulers can be said to be ordained of God as his 
ministers. The first is a plain declaration from the word of 
God that such a one and his descendants are, and shall be, 
the only true and lawful magistrates : thus we find in 
Scripture the kingdom of Judah to be settled by divine 
appointment in the family of David. Or, 

Secondly, By an immediate commission from God, or 
dering and appointing such a one by name to be the 
ruler over the people : thus Saul and David were imme 
diately appointed by God to be kings over Israel. Or, 

Thirdly, Magistracy may be called the ordinance of 
God, and rulers may be called the ministers of God, be 
cause the nature and reason of things, which is the law of 
God, requires such an institution for the preservation and 
safety of civil society. In the two first senses the apostle 
cannot be supposed to affirm that magistracy is God s 
ordinance, for neither he nor any of the sacred writers 
have entailed the magistracy to any one particular family 
under the gospel dispensation. Neither does he nor any 
of the inspired writers give us the least hint that any per 
son should ever be immediately commissioned from God 
to bear rule over the people. The third sense, then, is the 
only sense in which the apostle can be supposed to affirm 
that the magistrate is the minister of God, and that niagis- 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 289 

tracy is the ordinance of God ; viz., that the nature and 
reason of things require such an institution for the pre 
servation and safety of mankind. Now, if this be the 
only sense in which the apostle affirms that magistrates 
are ordained of God as his ministers, resistance must be 
criminal only so far forth as they are the ministers of God, 
i. e., while they act up to the end of their institution, and 
ceases being criminal when they cease being the ministers 
of God, i. e., when they act contrary to the general good, 
and seek to destroy the liberties of the people. 

That we have gotten the apostle s sense of magistracy 
being the ordinance of God, will plainly appear from the 
text itself; for, after having asserted that }o resist the 
power is to resist the ordinance of God, and they that 
resist shall receive to themselves damnation, he immedi 
ately adds, as the reason of this assertion, "For rulers are 
not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou 
then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, 
and thou shalt have praise of the same : for he is the 
minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that 
which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in 
vain : for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute 
wrath upon him that doth evil." Here is a plain declara 
tion pf the sense in which he asserts that the authority of 
the magistrate is ordained of God, viz., because rulers are 
not a terror to good works, but to the evil ; therefore we 
ought to dread offending them, for we cannot offend them 
but by doing evil; and if we do evil we have just reason 
to fear their power; for they bear not the sword in vain, 
but in this case the magistrate is a revenger to execute 
wrath upon him that doeth evil : but if we are found doers 
of that which is good, we have no reason to fear the 
authority of the magistrate ; for in this case, instead of 
being punished, we shall be protected and encouraged. 

25 



290 



The reason why the magistrate is called the minister of 
God is because he is to protect, encourage, and honor 
them that do well, and to punish them that do evil ; there 
fore it is our duty to submit to them, not merely for fear 
of being punished by them, but out of regard to the 
divine authority, under which they are deputed to execute 
judgment and to do justice. For this reason, according to 
the apostle, tribute is to be paid them, because, as the min 
isters of God, their whole business is to protect every man 
in the enjoyment of his just rights and privileges, and to 
punish every evil-doer. 

If the apostle, then, asserts that rulers are ordained of 
God only because they are a terror to evil works and a 
praise to them that do well ; if they are ministers of God 
only because they encourage virtue and punish vice ; if for 
this reason only they are to be obeyed for conscience sake; 
if the sole reason why they have a right to tribute is 
because they devote themselves wholly to the business of 
securing to men their just rights, and to the punishing of 
evil-doers, it follows, by undeniable consequence, that 
when they become the pests of human society, when they 
promote and encourage evil-doers, and become a terror to 
good w r orks, they then cease being the ordinance of God ; 
they are no longer rulers nor ministers of God ; they are 
so far from being the powers that are ordained of God 
that they become the ministers of the pow r ers of dark 
ness, 1 and it is so far from being a crime to resist them, 
that in many cases it may be highly criminal in the sight 
of Heaven to refuse resisting and opposing them to the 
utmost of our power ; or, in other words, that the same 
reasons that require us to obey the ordinance of God, do 
equally oblige us, when we have power and opportunity, 
to oppose and resist the ordinance of Satan. 

1 See p. 73. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 291 

Hence we see that the apostle Paul, instead of being a 
friend to tyranny and arbitrary government, turns out to be 
a strong advocate for the just rights of mankind, and is for 
our enjoying all that liberty with which God has invested 
us ; for no power (according to the apostle) is ordained of 
God but what is an encourager of every good and virtuous 
action, "Do that which is good, and tliou shalt have 
praise of the same." No man need to be afraid of this 
power which is ordained of God who does nothing but 
what is agreeable to the law of God ; for this power will 
not restrain us from exercising any liberty which the Deity 
has granted us; for the minister of God is to restrain us 
from nothing but the doing of that which is evil, and to 
this we have no right. To practise evil is not liberty, but 
licentiousness. Can we conceive of a more perfect, equi 
table, and generous plan of government than this which 
the apostle has laid down, viz., to have rulers appointed 
over us to encourage us to every good and virtuous action, 
to defend and protect us in our just rights and privileges, 
and to grant us everything that can tend to promote our 
true interest and happiness ; to restrain every licentious 
action, and to punish every one that would injure or harm 
us ; to become a terror of evil-doers ; to make and execute 
such just and righteous laws as shall effectually deter and 
hinder men from the commission of evil, and to attend 
continually upon this very thing; to make it their constant 
care and study, day and night, to promote the good and 
welfare of the community, and to oppose all evil practices? 
Deservedly may such rulers be called the ministers of God 
for good. They carry on the same benevolent design 
towards the community which the great Governor of the 
universe does towards his whole creation. T is the indis 
pensable duty of a people to pay tribute, and to afford an 
easy and comfortable subsistence to such rulers, because 



292 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

they are the ministers of God, who are continually labor- 
ing and employing their time for the good of the com 
munity. He that resists such magistrates does, in a very 
emphatical sense, resist the ordinance of God ; he is an 
enemy to mankind, odious to God, and justly incurs the 
sentence of condemnation from the great Judge of quick 
and dead. Obedience to such magistrates is yielding obe 
dience to the will of God, and, therefore, ought to be per 
formed from a sacred regard to the divine authority. 

For any one from hence to infer that the apostle enjoins 
in this text unlimited obedience to the worst of tyrants, 
and that he pronounces damnation upon those that resist 
the arbitrary measures of such pests of society, is just as 
good sense as if one should affirm, that because the Scrip 
ture enjoins us obedience to the laws of God, therefore we 
may not oppose the power of darkness ; or because we are 
commanded to submit to the ordinance of God, therefore 
we may not resist the ministers of Satan. Such wild work 
must be made with the apostle before he can be brought 
to speak the language of oppression ! It is as plain, I 
think, as words can make it, that, according to this text, 
no tyrant can be a ruler; 1 for the apostle s definition of a 
ruler is, that he is not a terror to good works, but to the 
evil; and that he is one who is to praise and encourage those 
that do well. Whenever, then, the ruler encourages them 
that do evil, and is a terror to those that do well, i. e., as 
soon as he becomes a tyrant, he forfeits his authority to 
govern, and becomes the minister of Satan, and, as such, 
ought to be opposed. 

I know it is said that the magistrates were, at the time 
when the apostle wrote, heathens, and that Nero, 2 that 
monster of tyranny, was then Emperor of Rome ; that 
therefore the apostle, by enjoining submission to the pow- 

i Seep. 67, note 1. ED. 2 See pp. 57 b, 61 a. ED. 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 293 

ers that then were, does require unlimited obedience to 
be yielded to the worst of tyrants. Now, not to insist 
upon what has been often observed, viz., that this epistle 
was written most probably about the beginning of Nero s 
reign, at which time he was a very humane and merciful 
prince, did everything that was generous and benevolent 
to the public, and showed every act of mercy and tender 
ness to particulars, and therefore might at that time justly 
deserve the character of the minister of God for good to 
the people, I say, waiving this, we will suppose that this 
epistle was written after that Nero was become a monster 
of tyranny and wickedness ; it will by no means follow from 
thence that the apostle meant to enjoin unlimited subjec 
tion to such an authority, or that he intended to affirm 
that such a cruel, despotic authority was the ordinance of 
God. The plain, obvious sense of his words, as we have 
already seen, forbids such a construction to be put upon 
them, for they plainly imply a strong abhorrence and dis 
approbation of such a character, and clearly prove that 
Nero, 1 so far forth as he was a tyrant, could not be the 
minister of God, nor have a right to claim submission from 
the people; so that this ought, perhaps, rather to be viewed 
as a severe satire upon Nero, than as enjoining any submis 
sion to him. 

It is also worthy to be observed that the apostle pru 
dently waived mentioning any particular persons that were 
then in power, as it might have been construed in an in 
vidious light, and exposed the primitive Christians to the 
severe resentments of the men that were then in power. 
He only in general requires submission to the higher pow 
ers, because the powers that be are ordained of God. 
Now, though the emperor might at that time be such a 

i See pp. 57, 61. ED. 
25* 



294 



tyrant that he could with no propriety be said to be ordained 
of God, yet it would be somewhat strange if there were no 
men in power among the Romans that acted up to the 
character of good magistrates, and that deserved to be es 
teemed as the ministers of God for good unto the people. 
If there were any such, notwithstanding the tyranny of 
Nero, the apostle might with great propriety enjoin sub 
mission to those powers that were ordained of God, and 
by so particularly pointing out the end and design of 
magistrates, and giving his definition of a ruler, he might 
design to show that neither Nero, nor any other tyrant, 
ought to be esteemed as the minister of God. Or, rather, 
which appears to me to be the true sense, the apostle 
meant to speak of magistracy in general, without any ref 
erence to the emperor, or any other person in power, that 
was then at Rome ; and the meaning of this passage is as 
if he had said, It is the duty of every Christian to be a 
good subject of civil government, for the power and au 
thority of the civil magistrate are from God ; for the pow 
ers that be are ordained of God ; i. e., the authority of the 
magistrates that are now either at Rome or elsewhere is 
ordained of the Deity. Wherever you find any lawful 
magistrates, remember, they are of divine ordination. But 
that you may understand what I mean when I say that 
magistrates are of divine ordination, I will show you how 
you may discern who are lawful magistrates, and ordained 
of God, from those who are not. Those only are to be es 
teemed lawful magistrates, and ordained of God, who pur 
sue the public good by honoring and encouraging those 
that do well and punishing all that do evil. Such, and 
such only, wherever they are to be found, are the ministers 
of God for good : to resist such i$ resisting the ordinance 
of God, and exposing yourselves to the divine wrath and 
condemnation. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 295 

In either of these senses the text cannot make anything 
in favor of arbitrary government. Nor could he with any 
propriety tell them that they need not be afraid of the 
power so long as they did that which was good, if he meant 
to recommend an unlimited submission to a tyrannical 
Nero ; for the best characters were the likeliest to fall a 
sacrifice to his malice. And, besides, such an injunction 
would be directly contrary to his own practice, and the 
practice of the primitive Christians, who refused to comply 
with the sinful commands of men in power; their answer 
in such cases being this, We ought to obey God rather than 
men. 1 Hence the apostle Paul himself suffered many cruel 
persecutions because he would not renounce Christianity, 
but persisted in opposing the idolatrous worship of the 
pagan world. 

This text, being rescued from the absurd interpretations 
which the favorers of arbitrary government have put upon 
it, turns out to be a noble confirmation of that free and 
generous plan of government which the law of nature and 
reason points out to us. Nor can we desire a more equi 
table plan of government than what the apostle has here 
laid down ; for, if we consult our happiness and real good, 
we can never wish for an unreasonable liberty, viz., a free 
dom to do evil, which, according to the apostle, is the only 
thing that the magistrate is to refrain us from. To have 
a liberty to do whatever is fit, reasonable, or good, is the 
highest degree of freedom that rational beings can possess. 
And how honorable a station are those men placed in, by 
the providence of God, whose business it is to secure to 
men this rational liberty, and to promote the happiness and 
welfare of society, by suppressing vice and immorality, and 
by honoring and encouraging everything that is honorable, 
virtuous, and praiseworthy ! Such magistrates ought to be 

iScep. 278. ED. 



296 



honored and obeyed as the ministers of God and the 
servants of the King of Heaven. Can we conceive of a 
larger and more generous plan of government than this 
of the apostle ? Or can we find words more plainly ex 
pressive of a disapprobation of an arbitrary and tyranni 
cal government? I never read this text without admiring 
the beauty and nervousness of it; and I can hardly con 
ceive how he could express more ideas in so few words 
than he has done. We see here, in one view, the honor 
that belongs to the magistrate, because he is ordained of 
God for the public good. We have his duty pointed out, 
viz., to honor and encourage the virtuous, to promote the 
real good of the community, and to punish all wicked and 
injurious persons. We are taught the duty of the subject, 
viz., to obey the magistrate for conscience sake, because 
he is ordained of God ; and that rulers, being continually 
employed under God for our good, are to be generously 
maintained by the paying them tribute; and that disobe 
dience to rulers is highly criminal, and will expose us to 
the divine wrath. The liberty of the subject is also clearly 
asserted, viz., that subjects are to be allowed to do every 
thing that is in itself just and right, and are only to be 
restrained from being guilty of wrong actions. It is also 
strongly implied, that when rulers become oppressive to 
the subject and injurious to the state, their authority, their 
respect, their maintenance, and the duty of submitting to 
them, must immediately cease ; they are then to be con 
sidered as the ministers of Satan, 1 and, as such, it becomes 
our indispensable duty to resist and oppose them. 

Thus we see that both reason and revelation perfectly 
agree in pointing out the nature, end, and design of gov 
ernment, viz., that it is to promote the welfare and happi 
ness of the community ; and that subjects have a right to 

1 See p. 73. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 297 

do everything th.it is good, praiseworthy, and consistent 
with the good of the community, and are only to be 
restrained when they do evil and are injurious either to 
individuals or the whole community; and that they ought 
to submit to every law that is beneficial to the community 
for conscience sake, although it may in some measure 
interfere with their private interest; for every good man 
will be ready to forego his private interest for the sake 
of being beneficial to the public. Reason and revelation, 
we see, do both teach us that our obedience to rulers is 
not unlimited, but that resistance is not only allowable, 
but an indispensable duty in the case of intolerable tyr 
anny and oppression. From both reason and revelation we 
learn that, as the public safety is the supreme law of the 
state, being the true standard and measure by which we 
are to judge whether any law or body of laws are just or 
not, so legislators have a right to make, and require sub 
jection to, any set of laws that have a tendency to promote 
the good of the community. 

Our governors have a right to take every proper method 
to form the minds of their subjects so that they may be 
come good members of society. The great difference that 
we may observe among the several classes of mankind 
arises chiefly from their education and their laws : hence 
men become virtuous or vicious, good commonwealths- 
men or the contrary, generous, noble, and courageous, 
or base, mean-spirited, and cowardly, according to the 
impression that they have received from the government 
that they are under, together with their education and 
the methods that have been practised by their leaders to 
form their minds in early life. Hence the necessity of 
good laws to encourage every noble and virtuous senti 
ment, to suppress vice and immorality, to promote indus 
try, and to punish idleness, that parent of innumerable 



298 



evils ; to promote arts and sciences, and to banish igno 
rance from among mankind. 

And as nothing tends like religion and the fear of God 
to make men good members of the commonwealth, it is 
the duty of magistrates to become the patrons and pro 
moters of religion and piety, and to make suitable laws for 
the maintaining public worship, and decently supporting 
the teachers of religion. Such laws, I apprehend, are abso 
lutely necessary for the well-being of civil society. Such 
laws may be made, consistent with all that liberty of con 
science which every good member of society ought to be 
possessed of; 1 for, as there are few, if any, religious socie 
ties among us but what profess to believe and practise all 
the great duties of religion and morality that are necessary 
for the well-being of society and the safety of the state, let 
every one be allowed to attend worship in his own society, 
or in that way that he judges most agreeable to the will 
of God, and let him be obliged to contribute his assistance 
to the supporting and defraying the necessary charges 
of his own meeting. In this case no one can have any right 
to complain that he is deprived of liberty of conscience, 
seeing that he has a right to choose and freely attend that 
worship that appears to him to be most agreeable to the 
will of God ; and it must be very unreasonable for him to 
object against being obliged to contribute his part towards 
the support of that worship which he has chosen. Whether 
some such method as this might not tend, in a very eminent 
manner, to promote the peace and welfare of society, I 
must leave to the wisdom of our legislators to determine ; 



1 " Ought to be possessed of." But who is to he the judge ? Mr. Backus, 
Mr. West, or the Pope? Mr. Backus demanded the repeal of all laws 
compelling the support of public worship, and that it should be left to the 
voluntary support of the people. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 299 

be sure it would take off some of the most popular 1 
objections against being obliged by law to support public 
worship while the law restricts that support only to one 
denomination. 

But for the civil authority to pretend to establish 2 par 
ticular modes of faith and forms of worship, and to punish 
all that deviate from the standard which our superiors 
have set up, is attended with the most pernicious conse 
quences to society. It cramps all free and rational inquiry, 
fills the world with hypocrites and superstitious bigots 
nay, with infidels and skeptics ; it exposes men of religion 
and conscience to the rage and malice of fiery, blind zeal 
ots, and dissolves every tender tie of human nature; in 
short, it introduces confusion and every evil work. And I 
cannot but look upon it as a peculiar blessing of Heaven 
that we live in a land where every one can freely deliver 
his sentiments upon religious subjects, and have the privi 
lege of worshipping God according to the dictates of his 
own conscience, 3 without any molestation or disturbance, 
a privilege which I hope we shall ever keep up and 
strenuously maintain. 4 No principles ought ever to be 
discountenanced by civil authority but such as tend to 
the subversion of the state. So long as a man is a good 
member of society, he is accountable to God alone for his 
religious sentiments; but when men are found disturbers 
of the public peace, stirring up sedition, or practising 
against the state, no pretence of religion or conscience 



1 At this time the Baptists, of whom the excellent, and able, and zealous 
Backus was the chief, were restless under the then legal obligations. Dr. 
West s proposed method was deemed by many a dangerous departure 
from the old paths, and the complete divorce was not effected till many 
years later, in 1834. ED. 

2 See pp. 47-52; also p. 86, note a. ED. 

3 See p. 68, note 1 . ED. 4 See p. 58, note a. ED. 



300 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

ought to screen them from being brought to condign pun 
ishment. But then, as the end and design of punishment 
is either to make restitution to the injured or to restrain 
men from committing the like crimes for the future, so, 
when these important ends are answered, the punishment 
ought to cease ; for whatever is inflicted upon a man under 
the notion of punishment after these important ends are 
answered, is not a just and lawful punishment, but is 
properly cruelty and base revenge. 

From this account of civil government we learn that 
the business of magistrates is weighty and important. It 
requires both wisdom and integrity. When either are 
wanting, government will be poorly administered; more 
especially if our governors are men of loose morals and 
abandoned principles ; for if a man is not faithful to God 
and his own soul, how can we expect that he will be faith 
ful to the public? There was a great deal of propriety in 
the advice that Jethro gave to Moses to provide able men, 
men of truth, that feared God, and that hated covetous- 
ness, and to appoint them for rulers over the people. For 
it certainly implies a very gross absurdity to suppose that 
those who are ordained of God for the public good should 
have no regard to the laws of God, or that the ministers 
of God should be despisers of the divine commands. 
David, the man after God s own heart, makes piety a ne 
cessary qualification in a ruler : " He that ruleth over men 
(says he) must be just, ruling in the fear of God." It is 
necessary it should be so, for the welfare and happiness of 
the state ; for, to say nothing of the venality and corrup 
tion, of the tyranny and oppression, that will take place 
under unjust rulers, barely their vicious and irregular lives 
will have a most pernicious effect upon the lives and man 
ners of their subjects : their authority becomes despicable 
in the opinion of discerning men. And, besides, with 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 301 

what face can they make or execute laws against vices 
which they practise with greediness ? A people that have 
a right of choosing their magistrates are criminally guilty 
in the sight of Heaven when they are governed by caprice 
and humor, or are influenced by bribery to choose magis 
trates that are irreligious men, who are devoid of senti 
ment, and of bad morals and base lives. Men cannot be 
sufficiently sensible what a curse they may bring upon 
themselves and their posterity by foolishly and wickedly 
choosing men of abandoned characters and profligate lives 
for their magistrates and rulers. 1 

We have already seen that magistrates who rule in the 
fear of God ought not only to be obeyed as the ministers 
of God, but that they ought also to be handsomely sup 
ported, that they may cheerfully and freely attend upon 
the duties of their station ; for it is a great shame and dis 
grace to society to see men that serve the public laboring 
under indigent and needy circumstances ; and, besides, it 
is a maxim of eternal truth that the laborer is worthy of 
his reward. 

It is also a great duty incumbent on people to treat 
those in authority with all becoming honor and respect, 
to be very careful of casting any aspersion upon their char 
acters. To despise government, and to speak evil of dig 
nities, is represented in Scripture as one of the worst of 
characters; and it was an injunction of Moses, "Thou 
shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Great 
mischief may ensue upon reviling the character of good 
rulers ; for the unthinking herd of mankind are very apt 
to give ear to scandal, and when it falls upon men in 
power, it brings their authority into contempt, lessens their 
influence, and disheartens them from doing that service to 

i See p. 69, note 1. ED. 
26 



302 



the community of which they are capable ; whereas, when 
they are properly honored, and treated with that respect 
which is due to their station, it inspires them with courage 
and a noble ardor to serve the public : their influence 
among the people is strengthened, and their authority 
becomes firmly established. We ought to remember that 
they are men like to ourselves, liable to the same imperfec 
tions and infirmities with the rest of us, and therefore, so 
long as they aim at the public good, their mistakes, mis 
apprehensions, and infirmities, ought to be treated with the 
utmost humanity and tenderness. 

But though I would recommend to all Christians, as a 
part of the duty that they owe to magistrates, to treat 
them with proper honor and respect, none can reasonably 
suppose that I mean that they ought to be flattered l in 
their vices, or honored and caressed while they are seeking 
to undermine and ruin the state ; for this would be 
wickedly betraying our just rights, and we should be 
guilty of our own destruction. We ought ever to perse 
vere with firmness and fortitude in maintaining and con 
tending for all that liberty that the Deity has granted us. 
It is our duty to be ever watchful over our just rights, 
and not suffer them to be wrested out of our hands by 
any of the artifices of tyrannical oppressors. But there is 
a wide difference between being jealous of our rights, 
when we have the strongest reason to conclude that they 
are invaded by our rulers, and being unreasonably suspi 
cious of men that are zealously endeavoring to support the 
constitution, only because we do not thoroughly compre 
hend all their designs. The first argues a noble and 
generous mind ; the other, a low and base spirit. 

Thus have I considered the nature of the duty enjoined 
in the text, and have endeavored to show that the same 

i See pp. 97-103. ED. 



* PREACHED AT BOSTON. 1776. 303 

principles that require obedience to lawful magistrates flo 
also require us to resist tyrants ; this I have confirmed 
from reason and Scripture. 

It was with a particular view to the present unhappy 
controversy that subsists between us and Great Britain 
that I chose to discourse upon the nature and design of 
government, and the rights and duties both of governors 
and governed, that so, justly understanding our rights and 
privileges, we may stand firm in our opposition to minis 
terial tyranny, while at the same time we pay all proper 
obedience and submission to our lawful magistrates; and 
that, while we are contending for liberty, we may avoid 
running into licentiousness; and that we may preserve the 
due medium between submitting to tyranny and running 
into anarchy. I acknowledge that I have undertaken a 
difficult task ; but, as it appeared to me, the present state 
of affairs loudly called for such a discourse ; and, therefore, 
I hope the \vise, the generous, and the good, will candidly 
receive my good intentions to serve the public. I shall 
now apply this discourse to the grand controversy that at 
this day subsists between Great Britain and the American 
colonies. 

And here, in the first place, I cannot but take notice 
how wonderfully Providence has smiled upon us by caus 
ing the several colonies to unite * so firmly together against 
the tyranny of Great Britain, though differing from each 
other in their particular interest, forms of government, 
modes of worship, and particular customs and manners, 
besides several animosities that had subsisted among them. 
That, under these circumstances, such a union should take 
place as we now behold, was a thing that might rather 
have been wished than hoped for. 

And, in the next place, who could have thought that, 

1 See p. 218. ED. 



304 



when our charter was vacated, when we became destitute 
of any legislative authority, and when our courts of justice 
in many parts of the country were stopped, so that we 
could neither make nor execute laws upon offenders, 
who, I say, would have thought, that in such a situation 
the people should behave so peaceably, and maintain such 
good order and harmony among themselves? This is a 
plain proof that they, having not the civil law to regulate 
themselves by, became a law unto themselves ; and by 
their conduct they have shown that they were regulated 
by the law of God written in their hearts. This is the 
Lord s doing, and it ought to be marvellous in our eyes. 1 

From what has been said in this discourse, it will appear 
that we are in the way of our duty in opposing the tyranny 
of Great Britain ; for, if unlimited submission is not due 
to any human power, if we have an undoubted right to 
oppose and resist a set of tyrants 2 that are subverting our 
just rights and privileges, there cannot remain a doubt in 
any man, that will calmly attend to reason, whether we 
have a right to resist and oppose the arbitrary measures of 
the King and Parliament ; for it is plain to demonstration, 
nay, it is in a manner self-evident, that they have been and 
are endeavoring to deprive us not only of the privileges 
of Englishmen, and our charter rights, but they have en 
deavored to deprive us of what is much more sacred, viz., 
the privileges of men and Christians; 8 i. e., they are rob 
bing us of the inalienable rights that the God of nature 
has given us as men and rational beings, and has confirmed 

a The meaning is not that they have attempted to deprive us of liberty of con 
science, but that they have attempted to take away those rights which God has 
invested us with as his creatures and confirmed in his gospel, by which believers 
have a covenant right to the good things of this present life and world. 

1 See note 1, p. 206. ED. 

2 This was very plain English for the British Parliament to read, and 
shocking to Oxford divines. ED. 






1776. 305 

to us in his written- word as Christians and disciples of 
that Jesus who came to redeem us from the bondage of 
sin and the tyranny of Satan, and to grant us the most 
perfect freedom, even the glorious liberty of the sons 
and children of God ; that here they have endeavored to 
deprive us of the sacred charter of the King of Heaven. 
But we have this for our consolation : the Lord reisneth : 

C> 7 

he governs the world in righteousness, and will avenge the 
cause of the oppressed when they cry unto him. We 
have made our appeal to Heaven, and we cannot doubt 
but that the Judge of all the earth will do right. 

Need I upon this occasion descend to particulars? Can 
any one be ignorant what the things are of which we com 
plain ? Does not every one know that the King and Par 
liament have assumed the right to tax us without our 
consent? And can any one be so lost to the principles of 
humanity and common sense as not to view their conduct 
in this affair as a very grievous imposition ? Reason and 
equity require that no one be obliged to pay a tax that he 
has never consented to, either by himself or by his repre 
sentative. But, as Divine Providence has placed us at so 
great a distance from Great Britain that we neither are 
nor can be properly represented in the British Parliament, 
it is a plain proof that the Deity designed that we should 
have the powers of legislation and taxation among our 
selves ; for can any suppose it to be reasonable that a set 
of men that are perfect strangers to us should have the 
uncontrollable right to lay the most heavy and grievous 
burdens upon us that they please, purely to gratify their 
unbounded avarice and luxury? Must we be obliged to 
perish with cold and hunger to maintain them in idleness, 
in all kinds of debauchery and dissipation ? But if they 
have the right to take our property from us without our 
consent, we must be wholly at their mercy for our food 

26* 



306 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

and raiment, and we know by sad experience that then- 
tender mercies are cruel. 

But because we were not willing to submit to such an 
unrighteous and cruel decree, though we modestly com 
plained and humbly petitioned for a redress of our griev 
ances, instead of hearing our complaints, and granting 
our requests, they have gone on to acid iniquity to transgres 
sion, by making several cruel arid unrighteous acts. Who 
can forget the cruel act to block up the harbor of Boston, 1 
whereby thousands of innocent persons must have been 
inevitably ruined had they not been supported by the con 
tinent? Who can forget the act for vacating our charter, 

o o " 

together with many other cruel acts which it is needless 
to mention? But, not being able to accomplish their 
wicked purposes by mere acts of Parliament, they have 
proceeded to commence 2 open hostilities against us, and 
have endeavored to destroy us by fire and sword. Our 
towns they have burnt, 3 our brethren they have slain, our 
vessels they have taken, and our goods they have spoiled. 
And, after all this wanton exertion of arbitrary power, is 
there the man that has any of the feeling of humanity left 
who is not fired with a noble indignation against such mer 
ciless tyrants, who have not only brought upon us all the 
horrors of a civil war, but have also added a piece of bar- 

1 No class in the community rendered more efficient service to their 
country than did the seamen, especially at the commencement of the war. 
Mr. Sabine s Report on the Fisheries contains a most interesting chapter 
pp. 198-210 on the " Public Services and Character of Fishermen." 
Newport, R. I., Marblehead, and Boston seamen did invaluable service. 
See also Lossing s Field Book of the Revolution, ii. 88, and Arnold s His 
tory of Rhode Island, ii. 386; Cooper s Naval History, London ed., 1839, 
i. 28G. - ED. 

2 They shed the first blood at Lexinjrton, April 19th. ED. 

3 Charlestown, burnt June 17, and Falmouth, October 18. See Froth- 
ingham s History, and Willis s History of Portland, ii. chap. 8. ED. 



1776. 307 

barity unknown to Turks and Mohammedan infidels, yea, 
such as would be abhorred and detested by the savages of 
the wilderness, I mean their cruelly forcing our brethren 
whom they have taken prisoners, without any distinction 
of whig or tory, to serve on board their ships of war, 1 
thereby obliging them to take up arms against their own 
countrymen, and to fight against their brethren, their 
wives, and their children, and to assist in plundering their 
own estates ! This, my brethren, is done by men who call 
themselves Christians, against their Christian brethren, 
against men who till now gloried in the name of English 
men, and who were ever ready to spend their lives and 
fortunes in the defence of British rights. Tell it not in 
Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest it cause 
our enemies to rejoice and our adversaries to triumph ! 
Such a conduct as this brings a great reproach upon the 
profession of Christianity ; nay, it is a great scandal even 
to human nature itself. 

It would be highly criminal not to feel a due resent 
ment against such tyrannical monsters. It is an indis 
pensable duty, my brethren, which we owe to God and 
our country, to rouse up and bestir ourselves, and, being 
animated with a noble zeal for the sacred cause of liberty, 
to defend our lives and fortunes, e,ven to the shedding the 
last drop of blood. The love of our country, the tender 
affection that we have for our wives and children, the 
regard we ought to have for unborn posterity, yea, every 
thing that is dear and sacred, do now loudly call upon us 
to use our best endeavors to save our country. We must 
beat our ploughshares into swords, and our pruning-hooks 
into spears, and learn the art of self-defence against our 

1 " It is, in truth, nothing more than the old, and, as I thought, exploded, 
problem of tyranny, which proposes to beggar its subjects into submis 
sion." Edmund Burke, 1775. ED. 



308 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

enemies. 1 To be careless and remiss, or to neglect the 
cause of our country through the base motives of avarice 
and self-interest, will expose us not only to the resent- 

1 A large octavo pamphlet of thirty-one pages " The Manual Exercises, 
as ordered by his Majesty in 1764, together with Plans and Explanations 
of the method generally practised at Reviews and Field-Days. Massachu 
setts Bay: Boston. Printed and sold by Isaiah Thomas at his Printing- 
office, near the Mill-Bridge " was recommended by the "Provincial Con 
gress at Cambridge, October 20, 1774, .... as the best calculated for 
appearance and defence." Another pamphlet of fifteen pages "Rules 
and Regulations for the Massachusetts Army. Salem : Printed by Samuel 
and Ebcnezer Hall. 1775" begins thus: "In Provincial Congress, Con 
cord, April 5th, 1775. Whereas the Lust of Power whk-h of old oppressed, 
persecuted, and exiled our pious and virtuous ancestors from their fair 
possessions in Britain, now pursues, with tenfold severity, us, their guilt 
less children, who are unjustly and, wickedly charged with Licentiousness, 
Sedition, Treason, and Rebellion; and being deeply impressed with a 
Sense of the almost incredible Fatigues and Hardships our venerable Pro 
genitors encountered, who fled from Oppression for the sake of civil and 
religious Liberty for themselves and their offspring, and began a settle 
ment here on bare Creation, at their own expense; and having seriously 
considered the Duty we owe to God, to the Memory of such invincible 
Worthies, to the King, to Great Britain, our Country, ourselves and Pos 
terity, do think it an indispensable Duty, by all lawful Ways and Means 
in our Power, to recover, maintain, defend, and preserve the free exercise 
of all those civil and religious Rights and Liberties for which many of our 
Forefathers fought, bled, and died, and to hand them down entire for the 
free Enjoyment of the latest Posterity;" and they " recommend " fifty- 
three articles for the regulation of " the Army that may be raised," etc. 
Article one is that " all officers and soldiers .... shall diligently frequent 
Divine Service and Sermons " 
The whole is " signed by order of the Provincial Congress. 

" JOHN HANCOCK, President." 

How perfectly Cromwellian is all this! These soldiers were freemen; 
they chose the delegates to that very congress; from the lips of their own 
chosen pastors flowed fervid appeals, like that in the text, to which they 
constantly listened, and which they drank in till their souls were kindled. 
Could George III. and his mercenary Hessians conquer such soldiers, who 
fought not for money, but for their homes, yes, and for us, with Bi 
bles in their pockets, and faith in their hearts, and English Puritan blood 
in their veins ? ED. 



1776. 309 

ments of our fellow-creatures, but to the displeasure of 
God Almighty ; for to such base wretches, in such a time 
as this, we may apply with the utmost propriety that pas 
sage in Jeremiah xlviii. 10: "Cursed be he that doth the 
work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keep- 
eth back his sword from blood." To save our country 
from the hands of our oppressors ought to be dearer to us 
even than our own lives, and, next the eternal salvation of 
our own souls, is the thing of the greatest importance, a 
duty so sacred that it cannot justly be dispensed with for 
the sake of our secular concerns. Doubtless for this reason 
God has been pleased to manifest his anger against those 
who have refused to assist their country against its cruel 
oppressors. Hence, in a case similar to ours, when the 
Israelites were struggling to deliver themselves from the 
tyranny of Jabin, the king of Canaan, we find a most bit 
ter curse denounced against those who refused to grant 
their assistance in the common cause ; see Judges v. 23 : 
"Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bit 
terly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to 
the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the 
mighty." 

Now, if such a bitter curse is denounced against those 
who refused to assist their country against its oppressors, 
what a dreadful doom are those exposed to who have not 
only refused to assist their country in this time of distress, 
but have, through motives of interest or ambition, shown 
themselves enemies to their country by opposing l us in 

1 About this time March 31st Washington wrote of these men: "One 
or two have done what a great number ought to have done long ago 
committed suicide. By all accounts there never existed a more miserable 
set of beings than these wretched creatures now are. Taught to believe 
that the power of Great Britain was superior to all opposition, and, if not, 
that foreign aid was at hand, they were even higher and more insulting in 



310 

the measures that we have taken, and by openly favoring 
the British Parliament ! He that is so lost to humanity as 
to be willing to sacrifice his country for the sake of ava 
rice or ambition, has arrived to the highest stage of wick- 

7 O O 

edness that human nature is capable of, and deserves a 
much worse name than I at present care to give him. But 
I think I may with propriety say that such a person has 
forfeited his right to human society, and that he ought to 
take up his abode, not among the savage men, but among 
the savage beasts of the wilderness. 

Nor can I wholly excuse from blame those timid persons 
who, through their own cowardice, have been induced to 
favor our enemies, and have refused to act in defence of 
their country ; for a due sense of the ruin and destruction 
that our enemies are bringing upon us is enough to raise 
such a resentment in the human breast that would, I 
should think, be sufficient to banish fear from the most 
timid make. And, besides, to indulge cowardice in such a 
cause argues a want of faith in God ; for can he that 
firmly believes and relies upon the providence of God 
doubt whether he will avenge the cause of the injured 
when they apply to him for help? For my own part, when 
I consider the dispensations of Providence towards this 
land ever since our lathers first settled in Plymouth, I find 
abundant reason to conclude that the great Sovereign of 
the universe has planted a vine in this American wilder 
ness which he has caused to take deep root, and it has 



their opposition than the regulars. When the order issued, therefore, for 
embarking the troops in Boston, no electric shock, no sudden explosion 
of thunder, in a word, not the last trump, could have struck them with 
greater consternation. They were at their wits end; and, conscious of 
their black ingratitude, they chose to commit themselves, in the manner 
I have above described, to the mercy of the waves, at a tempestuous sea 
son, rather than meet their offended countrvmen." ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 311 

filled the land, and that he will never suffer it to be 
plucked up or destroyed. 

Our fathers fled 1 from the rage of prelatical tyranny and 
persecution, and came into this land in order to enjoy lib 
erty of conscience, and they have increased to a great peo 
ple. Many have been the interpositions of Divine Provi 
dence on our behalf, both in our fathers days and ours ; 
and, though we are now engaged in a war with Great 
Britain, yet we have been prospered in a most wonderful 
manner. And can we think that lie who has thus far 
helped us will give us up into the hands of our enemies? 
Certainly he that has begun to deliver us will continue to 
show his mercy towards us, in saving us from the .hands 
of our enemies: he will not forsake us if we do not forsake 
him. Our cause is so just and good that nothing can pre 
vent our success but only our sins. Could I see a spirit of 
repentance and reformation prevail through the land, I 
should not have the least apprehension or fear of being 
brought under the iron rod of slavery, even though all the 
powers of the globe were combined against us. And 
though I confess that the irreligion and profaneness which 
are so common among us gives something of a damp to 
my spirits, yet I cannot help hoping, and even believing, 
that Providence has designed this continent for to be the 
asylum of liberty and true religion ; for can we suppose 
that the God who created us free agents, and designed 
that we should glorify and serve him in this world that we 
might enjoy him forever hereafter, will suffer liberty and 
true religion to be banished from off the face of the earth? 
But do we not find that both religion and liberty seem to 
be expiring and gasping for life in the other continent? 
where, then, can they find a harbor or place of refuge but 
in this? 

i See pp. x. xii. ED. 



312 



There are some * who pretend that it is against their 
consciences to take up arms in defence of their country ; 
but can any rational being suppose that the Deity can re 
quire us to contradict the law of nature which he has writ 
ten in our hearts, a part of which I am sure is the principle 
of self-defence, which strongly prompts us all to oppose 
any power that would take away our lives, or the lives of 
our friends? Now, for men to take pains to destroy the 
tender feelings of human nature, and to eradicate the prin 
ciples of self-preservation, and then to persuade themselves 
that in so doing they submit to and obey the will of God 5 
is a plain proof how easily men may be led to pervert the 
very first and plainest principles of reason and common 
sense, and argues a gross corruption of the human mind. 
We find such persons are very inconsistent with them 
selves ; for no men are more zealous to defend their prop 
erty, and to secure their estates from the encroachments of 
others, while they refuse to defend their persons, their 
wives, their children, and their country, against the assaults 
of the enemy. We see to what unaccountable lengths 
men will run when once they leave the plain road of com 
mon sense, and violate the law which God has written in 
the heart. Thus some have thought they did God service 
when they unmercifully butchered and destroyed the lives 
of the servants of God ; while others, upon the contrary 
extreme, believe that they please God while they sit still 
and quietly behold their friends and brethren killed by 
their unmerciful enemies, without endeavoring to defend 
or rescue them. The one is a sin of omission, and the 
other is a sin of commission, and it may perhaps be diffi 
cult to say, under certain circumstances, which is the most 

1 " Whereas the people called Quakers profess themselves conscientiously 
scrupulous of attending in arms at military musters," they were exempted 
by a statute of 17G3. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 313 

criminal in the sight of Heaven. Of this I am sure, that 

they are, both of them, great violations of the law of God. 

Having thus endeavored to show the lawfulness and ne- 

? 

cessity of defending ourselves against the tyranny of Great 
Britain, I would observe that Providence seems plainly to 
point to us the expediency, and even necessity, of our con 
sidering ourselves as an independent state. 1 For, not to 
consider the absurdity implied in making war against a 
power to which we profess to own subjection, to pass by 
the impracticability of our ever coming under subjection to 
Great Britain upon fair and equitable terms, we may ob 
serve that the British Parliament has virtually declared us 
an independent state by authorizing their ships of war to 
seize all American property, wherever they can find it, 
without making any distinction between the friends of 
administration and those that have appeared in opposition 
to the acts of Parliament. This is making us a distinct 
nation from themselves. They can have no right any 
longer to style us rebels ; for rebellion implies a particular 
faction risen up in opposition to lawful authority, and, as 
such, the factious party ought to be punished, while those 
that remain loyal are to be protected. But when war is 
declared against a whole community without distinction, 
and the property of each party is declared to be seizable, 
this, if anything can be, is treating us as an independent 
state. Now, if they are pleased to consider us as in a state 
of independency, who can object against our considering 
ourselves so too ? 

But while we are nobly opposing with our lives and es 
tates the tyranny of the British Parliament, let us not for 
get the duty which we owe to our lawful magistrates ; let 
us never mistake licentiousness for liberty. The mere we 



1 Within forty days, July 4th, came the " Declaration of Independence." 

27 



314 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

understand the principles of liberty, the more readily shall 
we yield obedience to lawful authority ; for no man can 
oppose good government but he that is a stranger to true 
liberty. Let us ever check and restrain the factious dis 
turbers of the peace ; whenever we meet with persons that 
are loth to submit to lawful authority, let us treat them 
with the contempt which they deserve, and ever esteem 
them as the enemies of their country and the pests of so 
ciety. It is with peculiar pleasure that I reflect upon the 
peaceable behavior of my countrymen at a time when the 
courts of justice were stopped and the execution of laws 
suspended. It will certainly be expected of a people that 
could behave so well when they had nothing to restrain 
them but the laws written in their hearts, that they will 
yield all ready and cheerful obedience to lawful authority. 
There is at present the utmost need of guarding ourselves 
against a seditious and factious temper ; for when we are 
engaged with so powerful an enemy from without, our 
political salvation, under God, does, in an eminent manner, 
depend upon our being firmly united together in the bonds 
of love to one another, and of due submission to lawful 
authority. I hope we shall never give any just occasion to 
our adversaries to reproach us as being men of turbulent 
dispositions and licentious principles, that cannot bear to 
be restrained by good and wholesome laws, even though 
they are of our own making, nor submit to rulers of our 
own choosing. But I have reason to hope much better 
things of my countrymen, though I thus speak. However, 
in this time of difficulty and distress, we cannot be too 
much guarded against the least approaches to discord and 
faction. Let us, while we are jealous of our rights, take 
heed of unreasonable suspicions and evil surmises which 
have no proper foundation ; let us take heed lest we hurt 
the cause of liberty by speaking evil of the ruler of the 
people. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 315 

Let us treat our rulers with all that honor and respect 
which the dignity of their station requires ; but let it be 
such an honor and respect as is worthy of the sons of free 
dom to give. Let us ever abhor the base arts that are 
used by fawning parasites and cringing courtiers, who by 
their low artifices and base flatteries obtain offices and 
posts which they are unqualified to sustain, and honors of 
which they are unworthy, and oftentimes have a greater 
number of places assigned them than any one person of the 
greatest abilities can ever properly fill, by means of which 
the community becomes greatly injured, for this reason, 
that many an important trust remains undischarged, and 
many an honest and worthy member of society is deprived 
of those honors and privileges to which he has a just 
right, whilst the most despicable, worthless courtier is 
loaded with honorable and profitable commissions. In 
order to avoid this evil, I hope our legislators will always 
despise flattery as something below the dignity of a 
rational mind, and that they will ever scorn the man that 
will be corrupted or take a bribe. And let us all resolve 
with ourselves that no motives of interest, nor hopes of 
preferment, shall ever induce us to act the part of fawning 
courtiers towards men in power. Let the honor and re 
spect which we show our superiors be true and genuine, 
flowing from a sincere and upright heart. 

The honors that have been paid to arbitrary princes 
have often been very hypocritical and insincere. Tyrants 
have been flattered in their vices, and have often had an 
idolatrous reverence paid them. 1 The worst princes have 
been the most flattered and adored ; and many such, in the 
pagan world, assumed the title of gods, and had divine 
honors paid them. This idolatrous reverence has ever 
been the inseparable concomitant of arbitrary power and 

1 See pp. 98, 99, 100. ED. 



316 



tyrannical government; for even Christian princes, if they 
have not been adored under the character of gods, yet the 
titles given them strongly savor of blasphemy, and the 
reverence paid them is really idolatrous. What right has 
a poor sinful worm of the dust to claim the title of his 
most sacred Majesty ? Most sacred certainly belongs only 
to God alone, for there is none holy as the Lord, yet 
how common is it to see this title given to kings ! And 
how often have we been told that the king can do no 
wrong! 1 Even though he should be so foolish and wicked 
as hardly to be capable of ever being in the right, yet still 
it must be asserted and maintained that it is impossible for 
him to do wrong ! 

The cruel, savage disposition of tyrants, and the idola 
trous reverence that is paid them, are both most beautifully 
exhibited to view by the apostle John in the Revelation, 
thirteenth chapter, from the first to the tenth verse, where 
the apostle gives a description of a horrible wild beast a 



a Wild beast. By the beast with seven heads and ten horns I understand the 
tyranny of arbitrary princes, viz., the emperors and kings of the Eastern and 
Western Roman Empire, and not the tyranny of the Pope and clergy; for the 
description of every part of this beast will answer better to be understood of 
political than of ecclesiastical tyrants. Thus the seven heads are generally inter 
preted to denote the several forms of Roman government; the ten horns are 
understood of the ten kingdoms that were setup in the Western Empire; and 
by the body of the beast it seems most natural to understand the Eastern, or 
Greek Empire, for it is said to be like a leopard. This image is taken from Dan 
iel vii. 6, where the third beast is said to be like a leopard. Now, by the third 
beast iiv Daniel is understood, by the best interpreters, the Grecian Monarchy. 
It is well known that John frequently borrows his images from Daniel, and I 
believe it will be found, upon a critical examination of the matter, that when 
ever he does so he means the same thing with Daniel ; if this be true (as I am 
fully persuaded it is), then, by the body of this beast being like a leopard in the 
Revelation of John, is to be understood the Eastern, or Greek Empire, w r hich 
was that part of the old Roman Empire that remained whole for several ages 
after the Western Empire was broken into ten kingdoms. Further: after the 
beast was risen it is said that the dragon gave him his seat. Now, by the dragon 
is meant the devil, who is represented as presiding over the Roman Empire in its 
pagan state; but the peat of the Roman Empire in its pagan state was Rome. 
Here, then, is a prophecy that the emperor of the East should become possessed 

i See p. 94, note a. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 317 

which he saw rise out of the sea, having seven heads and 
ten horns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy. 
By heads are to be understood forms of government, and 
by blasphemy, idolatry ; so that it seems implied that there 
will be a degree of idolatry in every form of tyrannical 
government. This beast is represented as having the body 
of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion ; 
i. e., a horrible monster, possessed of the rage and fury of 
the lion, the fierceness of the bear, and the swiftness of the 
leopard to seize and devour its prey. Can words more 
strongly point out, or exhibit in more lively colors, the 
exceeding rage, fury, and impetuosity of tyrants, in their 
destroying and making havoc of mankind? To this beast 
we find the dragon gave his power, seat, and great au 
thority; i. e., the devil constituted him to be his vicegerent 
on earth; this is to denote that tyrants are the ministers 
of Satan, ordained by him for the destruction of mankind. 
Such a horrible monster, we should have thought, would 
have been abhorred and detested of all mankind, and that 



of Rome, which exactly agrees with what we know from history to be fact; for 
the Emperor Justinian s generals having expelled the Goths out of Italy, Home 
was brought into subjection to the emperor of the East, and was for a long time 
governed by the emperor s lieutenant, who resided at Ravenna. These consid 
erations convince me that the Greek Empire, and not the Tope and his clergy, 
is to be understood by the body of the beast, which was like a leopard. And 
what further confirms me in this belief is, that it appears to me that the Pope 
and the papal clergy are to be understood by the second beast which we read 
of in Revelation xiii. 11 17, for of him it is said that he had two horns like a 
lamb." A lamb, we know, is the figure by which Jesus Christ is signified in the 
Revelation and many other parts of the New Testament. The Pope claims both 
a temporal and spiritual sovereignty, denoted by the two horns, under the char 
acter of the vicar of Jesus Christ, and yet, under this high pretence of being 
the vicar of Jesus Christ, he speaks like a dragon; i. e., he promotes idolatry in 
the Christian Church, in like manner as the dragon did in the heathen Avorld. 
To distinguish him from the first beast, he is called (Revelation xix.) "the false 
prophet that wrought miracles; " i. e., like Mahomet, he pretends to be a law 
giver, and claims infallibility, and his emissaries endeavor to confirm this doc 
trine by pretended miracles. How wonderfully do all these characters agree to 
the Pope ! Wherefore I conclude that the second, and not the first beast, denotes 
the tyranny of the Pope and his clergy. 

27* 



318 



all nations would have joined their powers and forces 
together to oppose and utterly destroy him from off the 
face of the earth ; but, so far are they from doing this, that, 
on the contrary, they are represented as worshipping him 
(verse 8) : "And all that dwell on the earth shall worship 
him," viz., all those "whose names are not written in the 
Lamb s book of life ; " i. e., the wicked world shall pay him 
an idolatrous reverence, and worship him with a godlike 
adoration. What can in a more lively manner show the 
gross stupidity and wickedness of mankind, in thus tamely 
giving up their just rights into the hands of tyrannical 
monsters, and in so readily paying them such an unlimited 
obedience as is due to God alone ? 

We may observe, further, that these men are said (verse 
4) to "worship the dragon ; " not that it is to be sup 
posed that they, in direct terms, paid divine homage to 
Satan, but that the adoration paid to the beast, who was 
Satan s vicegerent, did ultimately centre in him. Hence 
we learn that those who pay an undue and sinful venera 
tion to tyrants are properly the servants of the devil; 
they are worshippers of the prince of darkness, for in him 
all that undue homage and adoration centres that is given 
to his ministers. Hence that terrible denunciation of 
divine wrath against the worshippers of the beast and his 
image : " If any man worship the beast and his image, and 
receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same 
shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is 
poured out without mixture into the cup of his indigna 
tion, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in 
the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the 
Lamb ; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever 
and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who wor 
ship the beast and his image, and who receive the mark of 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 319 

his narae." a We have here set forth in the clearest man 
ner, by the inspired apostle, God s abhorrence of tyranny 
and tyrants, together with the idolatrous 1 reverence that 
their wretched subjects are wont to pay them, and the 
awful denunciation of divine wrath against those who are 
guilty of this undue obedience to tyrants. 

Does it not, then, highly concern us all to stand fast in 
the liberty wherewith Heaven hath made us free, and to 
strive to get the victory over the beast and his image 
over every species of tyranny ? Let us look upon a free 
dom from the power of tyrants as a blessing that cannot 
be purchased too dear, and let us bless God that he has so 
far delivered us from that idolatrous reverence, which men 
are so very apt to pay to arbitrary tyrants ; and let us 
pray that he would be pleased graciously to perfect the 
mercy he has begun to show us by confounding the devices 
of our enemies and bringing their counsels to nought, and 
by establishing our just rights and privileges upon such a 
firm and lasting basis that the powers of earth and hell 
shall not prevail against it. 

Under God, every person in the community ought to 
contribute his assistance to the bringing about so glorious 
and important an event ; but in a more eminent manner 
does this important business belong to the gentlemen that 
are chosen to represent the people in this General Assem 
bly, including those that have been appointed members of 
the Honorable Council Board. 

Honored fathers, we look up to you, in this da y of calam 
ity and distress, as the guardians of our invaded rights, 
and the defenders of our liberties against British tyranny. 
You are called, in Providence, to save your country from 

a Rev. xiv. 9, 10, 

1 See pp. 48, note 1; 49, note 1; 98. ED. 



320 



ruin. A trust is reposed in you of the highest importance 
to the community that can be conceived of, its business 
the most noble and grand, and a task the most arduous 
and difficult to accomplish that ever engaged the human 
mind I mean as to things of the present life. But as 
you are engaged in the defence of a just and righteous 
cause, you may with firmness of mind commit your cause 
to God, and depend on his kind providence for direction 
and assistance. You will have the fervent wishes and 
prayers of all good men that God would crown all your 
labors with success, and direct you into such measures as 
shall tend to promote the welfare and happiness of the 
community, and afford you all that wisdom and prudence 
which is necessary to regulate the affairs of state at this 
critical period. 

Honored fathers of the House of Representatives : We 
trust to your wisdom and goodness that you will be led to 
appoint such men to be in council whom you know to be 
men of real principle, and who are of unblemished lives ; 
that have shown themselves zealous and hearty friends to 
the liberties of America; and men that have the fear of 
God before their eyes ; for such only are men that can be 
depended upon uniformly to pursue the general good. 

My reverend fathers and brethren in the ministry will 
remember that, according to our text, it is part of the 
work and business of a gospel minister 1 to teach his hear 
ers the duty they owe to magistrates. Let us, then, 
endeavor to explain the nature of their duty faithfully, 
and show them the difference between liberty and licen 
tiousness; and, while we are animating them to oppose 
tyranny and arbitrary power, let us inculcate upon them 
the duty of yielding due obedience to lawful authority. 
In order to the right and faithful discharge of this part 

i See pp. 47, 53, 54. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1776. 321 

of our ministry, it is necessary that we should thor 
oughly study the law of nature, the rights of mankind, 
and the reciprocal duties of governors and governed. By 
this means we shall be able to guard them against the 
extremes of slavish submission to tyrants on one hand, 
and of sedition and licentiousness on the other. We may, 
I apprehend, attain a thorough acquaintance with the law 
of nature and the rights of mankind, while we remain 
ignorant of many technical terms of law, and are utterly 
unacquainted with the obscure and barbarous Latin that 
was so much used in the ages of popish darkness and 
superstition. 1 

To conclude : While we are fighting for liberty, and 
striving against tyranny, let us remember to fight the good 

i " The old forms of writs and legal process the authority of The 
State/ The Commonwealth/ or The People/ being substituted for that 
of the king were still retained in all the states; and, out of a pedantic 
spirit of imitation on the part of the lawyers, in spite of the efforts of the 
state Legislatures to give greater simplicity to legal proceedings, the forms 
and practice of the courts, even subsequently to the Revolution, were made 
more and more to conform to English technicalities. This spirit on the 
part of the lawyers, who formed a very influential portion of every state 
Legislature, proved a serious obstacle to all attempted reforms and sim 
plifications of the law." Hildreth s History of the United States, vol. 
iii., 380, 381. 

By recent legislation in England and in several of the United States, 
on the subject of evidence, a vast accumulation of legal subtleties and 
refinements, tending to hinder, if not to frustrate justice, has been thrown 
aside among the rubbish of the past, curious and useless learning. 
Much has been done to simplify the conveyance of real estate, and divest 
it of the encumbrances which originated in early times and another condi 
tion of society ; and to secure to women their rights to property, by sweep 
ing away the fictions which reminded us of former barbarity; and special 
pleading is added to the magnificent hecatomb. In review it seems as if 
the intent had been, first, to drive the parties out of court, but, if they 
were smart enough to keep in, next to prevent justice between them, if 
the subtlest logic and ingenuity, spun out to the thinnest though graveSt 
nonsense, could do it. ED. 






322 THE ELECTION SERMON, 1776. 

fight of faith, and earnestly seek to be delivered from that 
bondage of corruption which we are brought into by sin, 
and that we may be made partakers of the glorious liberty 
of the sons and children of God : which may the Father 
of Mercies grant us all, through Jesus Christ. AMEN. 



A 

SERMON 

PREACHED BEFORE THE 

HONORABLE COUNCIL, 

AND THE HONORABLE 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 

OF THE 

STATE of MASSACHUSETTS-*BAY, 

IN 

NEW-ENGLAND, 

AT 

BOSTON, 

MAY 27, 1778. 

BEING THE ANNIVERSARY FOR THE ELECTION 
OF THE HONORABLE COUNCIL. 

By PHILLIPS PAYSON, A. M. 

PASTOR OF A CHURCH IN CHELSEA. 



B O S T O N : N. E. 

PRINTED BY JOHN GILL, PRINTER TO THB 
GENERAL ASSEMBLY. 



M. DCC. LXXVIII. 



STATE OP MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, COUNCIL CHAMBER, May 28, 1778. 

Ordered, That Moses Gill, Henry Gardner, and Timothy Danielson, Esquires, 
be a Committee to wait on the Rev. Mr. Samuel Phillips Payson, and return him 
the thanks of the Board for his Sermon delivered yesterday before both Houses 
of Assembly; and request a copy thereof for the press. 

JOHN AVERT, D. Secretary. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



IN a note to Lord North, dated February 4, 1774. George III. wrote that 
"General Gage, though just returned from Boston, expresses his willing 
ness to go back at a day s notice, if convenient measures are adopted. 
He says they will be lions while we are lambs; but if AVC take the 
resolute part, they will undoubtedly prove very meek. Four regiments, 
sent to Boston, will, he thinks, be sufficient to prevent any disturbance. 
All men rtow feel that the fatal compliance in 17GG has increased the 
pretensions of the Americans to thorough independence." 

Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgo} r ne, going into Boston, May 25, 
1774, asked the skipper of a packet, outward bound, what news there 
was. He replied that Boston was surrounded by ten thousand country 
people. "What!" Burgoyne exclaimed, "ten thousand peasants keep 
five thousand king s troops shut up! Well, let us get in, and we ll soon 
find elbow-room." The presumptuous and confident general was soon to 
find snug quarters among those same " peasants," with hardly enough of 
" elbow-room " for comfortable reflection. 1 

On the 17th of October, 1777, at Saratoga, General Burgoyne surren 
dered his sword to General Gates. " After dinner, the American army 
was drawn up, in parallel lines, on each side of the road, extending nearly 
a mile. Between these victorious troops the British, with light infantry 
in front, and escorted by a company of light dragoons, preceded by two 
mounted officers bearing the American flag, marched to the lively tune of 

1 Frothingham s Siege of Boston, 114. Mr. F. says that Burgoyne loved a 
joke, and used to relate that, "while a prisoner of war, he was received with 
great courtesy by the Boston people as he stepped from the Charlestown ferry 
boat, but he was really annoyed when an old lady, perched on a shed above the 
crowd, cried out, at the top of a shrill voice, Make way! make way! the gen 
eral s coming! Give him elbow-room ! " 

28 



326 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

Yankee Doodle." 1 General Burgoyne glittered in his uniform. Gates 
was in his plain blue frock, and each of the American soldiers had on 
" the clothes which he wore in the fields, the church, or the tavern. 
They stood, however, like soldiers, well arranged, and with a military air, 
in which there was but little to find fault with. All the muskets had 
bayonets, and the sharp-shooters had rifles. The men all stood so still 
that we were filled with wonder. Not one of them made a single motion, 
as if he would speak with his neighbor. Nay, more, all the lads that 
stood there in rank-and-file kind nature had formed so trim, so slender, so 
nervous, that it was a pleasure to look at them, and we were all surprised 
at the sight of such a handsome, well-formed race. In all earnestness," 
says the same Hessian officer,2 " English America surpasses the most of 
Europe in the growth and looks of its male population. The whole nation 
has a natural talent for Avar and a soldier s life." 

The ministry were assailed in Parliament for their employment of the 
Indians against the Americans. One of the secretaries defended it, con 
cluding, "It is perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and 
nature have put into our hands." " That God and nature put into our 
hands!" repeated Chatham, w r ith contemptuous abhorrence; "I know 
not what idea that lord may entertain of God and nature, but I know 
that such abominable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and 
humanity. What! attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to 
the massacre of the Indian scalping-knife! to the cannibal and savage 
torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating literally, my lords, eating 
the mangled victims of his barbarous battles ! . . . The abominable 
principles, and this most abominable avowal of them, demand most 
decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend bench," pointing to 
the bishops, " those holy ministers of the gospel, and pious pastors of the 
church, I conjure them to join in the holy work, and to vindicate the 
religion of their God." That appeal was in vain. The chief of that bench 
was at the head of the " Society for the Propagation of their Gospel in 
Foreign Parts" in America; the end justified the means; and, beside, 
implicit obedience was their "badge." 3 Mayhew had denounced their 
principles and object in 1750 and afterward. They knew the utter hostility 
of America 4 to their rule, and their only hope now was in violence. 5 

1 Lossing s Field Book of the Revolution, i. 81. 

2 Jrving s Washington, Lond. Ed., vol. iii. 905. 3 See p. 42. 

4 See pp. xx ix., 41, 44, 52, 83, 100, 103, 109, 110, 160, 175, 195, 197, 218. 

5 See pp. xxxi., xxxii., and Peters letter, p. 195. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 327 

The glad news from Saratoga was like the noonday sun on the gloom 
and heaviness, engendered by continued reverses and suffering, pervading 
the colonies ; it strengthened the heart of Washington, infused new life 
into the legislative councils, inspirited the people; and in the providential 
ordering of events, which human foresight or prudence could not have 
anticipated or prevented, and on which hinged the great issue, the faith 
of all was confirmed that God was with them, as he had been with their 
fathers. An incident, close in time with this auspicious and splendid 
achievement, illumines the record of our history, and by its light we may 
see the source of that marvellous strength in weakness, and endurance in 
trial, which George III., Lord North, and that "right reverend bench" 
could never comprehend, nor their wit or power overcome. It was an 
order of Congress, directing the Committee of Commerce to import 
twenty thousand copies of the Bible, the great political text-book of the 
patriots. 1 

The enormous and unavailing expenditures of England against her 
colonies, the failure of her generals, of greatest reputation and success in 
Europe, in their American campaigns, and the animation and good cheer 
of the patriot heart, dispirited the tories, the " friends of government." 

On the 15th of November, the thirteen colonies confederated under the 
style of " The United States of America," and presented a consolidated 
front to George III., who might see on their national coin, not his own 
now hated and discarded royal effigy, but the motto " We are one," which, 
passing from palm to palm, linked every heart in one united whole. In 
the midst of this prosperity, on the recommendation of Congress, the 18th 
day of December was observed as a day of solemn thanksgiving and 
praise throughout the United States. 

On the sixth of February, 1778, France hesitating till after the tidings 
of the capture of General Burgoyne, giving decisive evidence of the vigor 
of the American character, and of their ultimate success formed an alli 
ance with the " United States," as an independent nation, and from this 
time there was a feeling that the question was not as to the final result of 
the war, but only how long George III. would persist in fighting, and how 
long England would endure his blind obstinacy and folly. As in the other 
colonies, or "states," as they now w r ere, so in Massachusetts, old ties and 
authorities being thrown aside, and new governments being only in incep 
tion, it was a period when executive authority and decision were most 
needed, and yet were weakest; and the disorder of anarchy and revolution 

1 See p. 262. 



328 



were averted only by the virtue and intelligence of the people, demonstrat 
ing the truth that " where the spirit of liberty is found in its genuine 
vigor, it produces its genuine effects, . . . and can never endanger a 
state unless its root and source is corrupted." A constitution, agreed 
upon by a State Convention, February 28, 1778, was then before the peo 
ple, for their consideration, and Mr. Payson s Sermon, appropriate to the 
time, had particular reference to the subject of government. Its practical 
wisdom, its profound observations on man, on the dangers and safeguards 
of liberty, on religion, morality, and education, rather than large statis 
tics of material wealth, as the greatest good, and the true test of prosper 
ity on the character and requisites of good magistracy, and on the diffi 
culties of free institutions, all are treated on such broad and comprehensive 
principles of universal and perpetual truth, that his sermon is adapted to 
all times, and may be pondered, perhaps, with peculiar advantage at this 
day. 

The preacher, Rev. Samuel Phillips Payson, son of Rev. Phillips Pay- 
son, of Walpole, Massachusetts, was born January 18, 1736, educated at 
Harvard College, 1754, ordained at Chelsea, October 26, 1757, and died 
January 11, 1801, aged sixty-four, after a life of great value to his own 
people and to his country. He was of a family noted in many gener 
ations for piety and usefulness. The name of Phillips is identified with 
venerable institutions of learning, and that of Payson is dear to the Chris 
tian world. Mr. Payson was distinguished as a classical scholar, for his 
studies in natural philosophy and astronomy, and for his fidelity as a 
Christian pastor and teacher, but has, perhaps, a stronger claim to our 
grateful remembrance as a high-minded patriot in the dajs of his coun 
try s peril,, difficulty, and darkness. We find in the pages of his friend 
Gordon s History of the Revolution an incident illustrative of the times 
and of his character. It is this: The British forces, on their inglorious 
retreat towards Boston, after their raid at Lexington and Concord, suffered 
from the fire of the provincial sharp-shooters. A few of these, headed by 
Mr. Payson, who till now had been extremely moderate, attacked a party of 
twelve soldiers, carrying stores to the retreating troops, killed one, 
wounded several, made the whole prisoners, and gained possession of their 
arms and stores, without any loss whatever to themselves. The preacher 
suited the action to the word and the word to the action, in his part of the 
national tragedy. 



DISCOURSE VII. 



ELECTION SERMON. 



BUT JERUSALEM, WHICH IS ABOVE, IS FREE, WHICH IS THE MOTHER OF US 
ALL. SO THEN. BRETHREN, WE ARE NOT CHILDREN OF THE BOND WO 
MAN, BUT OF THE FREE. Gal. iv. 26, 31. 



IT is common for the inspired writers to speak of the 
gospel dispensation in terms applicable to the heavenly 
world, especially when they view it in comparison with the 
law of Moses. In this light they consider the church of 
God, and good men upon earth, as members of the church 
and family of God above, and liken the liberty of Christians 
to that of the citizens of the heavenly Zion. We doubt 
not but the Jerusalem above, the heavenly society, pos 
sesses the noblest liberty to a degree of perfection of which 
the human mind can have no adequate conception in the 
present state. The want of that knowledge and rectitude 
they are endowed with above renders liberty and govern 
ment so imperfect here below. 

Next to the liberty of heaven is that which the sons of 
God, the heirs of glory, possess in this life, in which they 
are freed from the bondage of corruption, the tyranny of 
evil lusts and passions, described by the apostle "by being 
made free from sin, and becoming the servants of God." 
These kinds of liberty are so nearly related, that the latter 
is considered as a sure pledge of the former ; and there 
fore all good men, all true, believers, in a special sense are 

28* 



330 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

children of the free woman, heirs of the promise. This 
religious or spiritual liberty must be accounted the greatest 
happiness of man, considered in a private capacity. But 
considering ourselves here as connected in civil society, 
and members one of another, we must in this view esteem 
civil liberty as the greatest of all human blessings. This 
admits of different degrees, nearly proportioned to the 
morals, capacity, and principles of a people, and the mode 
of government they adopt ; for, like the enjoyment of 
other blessings, it supposes an aptitude or taste in the pos 
sessor. Hence a people formed upon the morals and prin 
ciples of the gospel are capacitated to enjoy the highest 
degree of civil liberty, and will really enjoy it, unless pre 
vented by force or fraud. 

Much depends upon the mode and administration of 
civil government to complete the blessings of liberty ; for 
although the best possible plan of government never can 
give an ignorant and vicious people the true enjoyment of 
liberty, yet a state may be enslaved though its inhabitants 
in general may be knowing, virtuous, and heroic. The 
voice of reason and the voice of God both teach us that 
the great object or end of government is the public good. 
Nor is there less certainty in determining that a free and 
righteous government originates from the people, and is 
under their direction and control ; and therefore a free, 
popular model of government of the republican kind 
may be judged the most friendly to the rights and 
liberties of the people, and the most conducive to the 
public welfare. 

On account of the infinite diversity of opinions and 
interests, as well as for other weighty reasons, a govern 
ment altogether popular, so as to have the decision of 
cases by assemblies of the body of the people, cannot be 
thought so eligible ; nor yet that a people should dele- 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 331 

gate their power and authority to one single man, or to 
one body of men, or, indeed, to any hands whatever, ex 
cepting for a short term of time. 1 A form of government 
may be so constructed as to have useful checks in the 
legislature, and yet capable of acting with union, vigor, 
and despatch, with a representation equally proportioned, 
preserving the legislative and executive branches distinct, 
and the great essentials of liberty be preserved and secured. 
To adjust such a model* is acknowledged to be a nice 
and difficult matter; 2 and, when adjusted, to render it 
respectable, permanent, and quiet, the circumstances of 
the state, and the capacities and morals both of rulers 
and people, are not only of high importance, but of abso 
lute necessity. 

a The form or constitution of government that has been submitted to the 
people of this state so amply secures the essentials of liberty, places and keeps 
the power so entirely in the hands of the people, is so concise and explicit, and 
makes such an easy step from the old to the new form, that it may justly be con 
sidered as a high evidence of the abilities of its compilers; and if it should not 
be complied with, it is very probable we never shall obtain a better. 

1 " Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government 
of himself; can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or 
have we found angels, in the form of kings, to govern him? Let history 
answer this question." Jefferson. 1801. ED. 

2 " A Constitution and Form of Government for the State of Massa 
chusetts Bay, agreed upon by the Convention of said State, February 28, 
1778, to be laid before the several Towns and Plantations in said State for 
their approbation or disapprobation," a pamphlet of twenty-three pages, 
was distributed among the towns, by vote of the House of Representatives, 
March 4, 1778. The constitution was rejected. Ten thousand votes were 
against it, two thousand votes in its favor; one hundred and twenty towns 
made no returns. It contained no bill of rights ; did not properly separate 
the legislative, judicial, and executive functions; " allowed" the free oxer- 
cise and enjoyment of religious worship, whereas that is an inalienable 
right; did not provide an equal representation; and many other objections 
were stated. It was thought best to postpone the framing of a constitu 
tion till more peaceful and settled times, and that it should then be done 
by delegates specially chosen for the service. Barry s History of Massa 
chusetts, iii. ch. v., gives a very clear account of the subject. ED. 



332 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

It by no means becomes me to assume the airs of a 
dictator, by delineating a model of government; but I 
shall ask the candid attention of this assembly to some 
things respecting a state, its rulers and inhabitants, of 
high importance, and necessary to the being and continu 
ance of such a free and righteous government as we wish 
for ourselves and posterity, and hope, by the blessing of 
Gocl, to have ere long established. 

In this view, it is obvious to observe that a spirit of 
liberty should in general prevail among a people; their 
minds should be possessed with a sense of its worth and 
nature. Facts and observation abundantly teach us that 
the minds of a community, as well as of individuals, are 
subject to different and various casts and impressions. The 
inhabitants of large and opulent empires and kingdoms 
are often entirely lost to a sense of liberty, in which case 
they become an easy prey to usurpers and tyrants. Where 
the spirit of liberty is found in its genuine vigor it pro 
duces its genuine effects; urging to the greatest vigilance 
and exertions, it will surmount great difficulties ; [so] that it 
is no easy matter to deceive or conqirer a people determined 
to be free. The exertions and effects of this great spirit 
in our land have already been such as may well astonish 
the world ; and so long as it generally prevails it will be 
quiet with no species of government but what befriends 
and protects it. Its jealousy for its safety may sometimes 
appear as if verging to faction ; but it means well, and 
can never endanger a state unless its root and source is 
corrupted. 

Free republican governments have been objected to, as 
if exposed to factions from an excess of liberty. The Gre 
cian states are mentioned for a proof, and it is allowed 
that the history of some of those commonwealths is little 
else but a narration of factions; but it is justly denied 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 333 

that the true spirit of liberty produced these effects. Vio 
lent and opposing parties, 1 shaking the pillars of the state, 
may arise under the best forms of government. A gov 
ernment, from various causes, may be thrown into convul 
sions, like the Roman state in its latter periods, and, like 
that, may die of the malady. But the evils which happen 
in a state are not always to be charged upon its govern 
ment, much less upon one of the noblest principles that 
can dwell in the human breast. There are diseases in 
government, like some in the human body, that lie undis 
covered till they become wholly incurable. 

The baneful effects of exorbitant wealth, the lust of 
power, and other evil passions, are so inimical to a free, 
righteous government, and find such an easy access to the 
human mind, that it is difficult, if possible, to keep up the 
spirit of good government, unless the spirit of liberty pre 
vails in the state. This spirit, like other generous growths 
of nature, flourishes best in its native soil. It has been 
engrafted, at one time and another, in various countries: 
in America it shoots up and grows as in its natural soil. 
Recollecting our pious ancestors, the first settlers of the 
country, nor shall we look for ancestry beyond that 
period, 2 and we may say, in the most literal sense, we 

1 " Let me warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful 
effects of the spirit of party generally. ... In governments of the popular 
form it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy ; . . . 
in governments purely elective it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From 
their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that 
spirit for every salutary purpose; and, there being such constant danger 
of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate 
and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance 
to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of wanning, it should 
consume." Washington. ED. 

2 It is a mistaken pride and a fallacy which would lead us not to look for 
our origin beyond the Atlantic. We cannot know ourselves or our history 
without this. America, isolated from the Old World bravely warring 



334 



are children, not of the bond woman, but of the free. It 
may hence well be expected that the exertions and effects 
of American liberty should be more vigorous and com 
plete. It has the most to fear from ignorance and ava 
rice ; for it is no uncommon thing for a people to lose 
sight of their liberty in the eager pursuit of wealth, as the 
states of Holland have done ; and it will always be as 
easy to rob an ignorant people of their liberty as to pick 
the pockets of a blind man. 

The slavery of a people is generally founded in igno 
rance of some kind or another; and there are not wanting 
such facts as abundantly prove the human mind may be 
so sunk and debased, through ignorance and its natural 
effects, as even to adore its enslaver, and kiss its chains. 
Hence knowledge and learning may well be considered as 
most essentially requisite to a free, righteous government. 



against and slowly upheaving and overturning hereditary wrong, was 
exclusively appropriated by the advance guard of Christian humanity, by 
actual possession, at Plymouth, in 1620; and the spirit of liberty, freed 
from hoary hindrances, vigorously put forth her strength and glory. But 
liberty was not born here; and we cannot learn her lineage, nor that of 
our Puritan ancestors, her devotees, nor appreciate the cost and 
wealth of our inheritance, without the study of English history, and civil 
ization, and of the Reformation; for the fruits of all this were simply trans 
planted to our shores by the children of those who wrought it. Alfred is 
ours, and Kunnemcde, and Edward VI., and Elizabeth; Raleigh, Bacon, 
and Shakspeare; Hampden, Milton, Cromwell, Sydney, yes, and " King 
Charles the martyr," are ours; and it is our glory that we continue the 
roll with the magnificent names of Washington, Franklin, and Edwards, 
an earnest, may we hope, of our future. 

The beautiful opening of Gibbon s "Memoirs of my Life and Writ 
ings," written in his usual philosophical vein, is a charming passage for 
all those who feel that " lively desire of knowing and of recording our 
ancestors," which " so generally prevails, that it must depend on the influ 
ence of some common principle in the minds of men." " Remember from 
whom you sprang," exclaimed John Hancock, when he proposed a gen 
eral Colonial Congress. ED. 



1778. 335 

A republican government and science mutually promote 
and support each other. Great literary acquirements are 
indeed the lot of but few, because but few in a community 
have ability and opportunity to pursue the paths of sci 
ence ; but a certain degree of knowledge is absolutely 
necessary to be diffused through a state for the preserva 
tion of its liberties and the quiet of government. 

Every kind of useful knowledge will be carefully encour 
aged and promoted by the rulers of a free state, unless 
they should happen to be men of ignorance themselves; in 
which case they and the community will be in danger of 
sharing the fate of blind guides and their followers. The 
education of youth, by instructors properly qualified, 11 the 
establishment of societies for useful arts and sciences, the 
encouragement of persons of superior abilities, will always 
command the attention of wise rulers. 

The late times of our glorious struggle have not indeed 
been favorable to the cause of education in general, though 
much useful knowledge of the geography of our country, 
of the science of arms, of our abilities and strength, and 
of our natural rights and liberties, has been acquired; 
great improvements have also been made in several kinds 
of manufactory. 1 But our security and the public welfare 



a The want of proper instructors, and a proper method of instructing, are the 
reason that what we call common education, or school-learning, is generally so 
imperfect among us. Youth should always be taught by strict rule in reading, 
writing, and speaking, and so in all parts of their education. By this means 
the advantages of their education will commonly increase with their age, that 
by a little application in their riper years persons may raise a useful superstruc 
ture from a small foundation that was well laid at school in their earlier days. 
It would be of eminent service if instructors would more generally endeavor to 
fix in the minds of their scholars the rules of reading, of spelling, of writing, or 
of whatever branch of knowledge they teach. 

i To tlic colonies, fringing the Atlantic, and hemmed in by primeval 
forests, the command to primitive man seemed to be uttered anew: " And 
God blessed them ; and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and 
replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the 



336 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

require yet greater exertions to promote education and 
useful knowledge. Most of the internal difficulties of a 
state commonly arise from ignorance, that general source 
of error. The growls of avarice and curses of clowns will 
generally be heard when the public liberty and safety call 
for more generous and costly exertions. Indeed, we may 
never expect to find the marks of public virtue, the efforts 
of heroism, or any kind of nobleness, in a man who has no 
idea of nobleness and excellency but what he hoards up in 
his barn or ties up in his purse. 

It is readily allowed there have not been wanting states 
men and heroes of the generous growth of nature, though 
instances of this sort are not so common. But if these 
had been favored with the improvements of art, they 
would have appeared to much greater advantage, and with 
brighter lustre. Nothing within the compass of human 



sea;" and " a man was famous according as he had lifted up axes on the 
thick trees." Their thrift was in the saw-mill, the ship-yard, the fisheries, 
commerce, and, last of all, agriculture; and their interest, as well as that 
of England, was to exchange their staples for the manufactures of the 
mother country. But the industry and increase of one hundred and fifty 
years had wrought a change in the condition and wants of the people, 
so that the more compact populations naturally turned to handicraft, and 
the new political relations quickened this action. Educated labor made 
rapid progress in new devices for economy of time and industry. It was 
encouraged by legislation, and stimulated by the desire of independence. 
" The great improvements and discoveries" of that day would now excite 
a smile, perhaps. The first cotton-mill in America, established at Beverly 
in 1788, was visited by Washington, in his tour through the country, in 
1789. A periodical of the day described it as " a complete set of machines 
for carding and spinning cotton, which answered the warmest expectations of 
(he proprietors. The spinning-jenny spins sixty threads at a time, and 
with the carding-machine forty pounds of cotton can be well carded per day. 
The warping-machine and the other tools and machinery arc complete, 
performing their various operations to great advantage, and promise much 
benefit to the public, and emolument to the patriotic adventurers." Stone s 
Beverly, 1843, p. 85. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 337 

ability is of that real weight and importance as the educa 
tion of youth the propagation of knowledge. 1 Despot 
ism and tyranny want nothing but wealth and force, but 
liberty and order are supported by knowledge and virtue. 

I shall also mention the love of our country, or public 
virtue, as another essential support of good government 
and the public liberties. No model of government what 
ever can equal the importance of this principle, nor afford 
proper safety and security without it. Its object being 
the approbation of conscience, and its motive to exertion 
being the public welfare, hence it can only dwell in 
superior minds, elevated above private interest and selfish 
views. It does that for the public which domestic affec 
tion does among real friends; but, like other excellences, 
is more frequently pretended to than possessed. 

In the ancient Roman republic it was the life and soul 
of the state which raised it to all its glory, being always 
awake to the public defence and good; and in every 
state it must, under Providence, be the support of govern 
ment, the guardian of liberty, or no human wisdom or 
policy can support and preserve them. Civil society 
cannot be maintained without justice, benevolence, and 
the social virtues. Even the government of the Jerusalem 
above could not ren der a vicious and abandoned people 
quiet and happy. The children of the bond woman, slaves 
to vice, can never be free. If the reason of the mind, 

" Patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, univer 
sities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, 
and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign 
influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of 
society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our constitu 
tion from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, 
the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of 
foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective govern 
ments." President Adams s Inaugural, 1797. ED. 

29 



338 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

man s immediate rule of conduct, is in bondage to cor 
ruption, he is verily the worst of slaves. Public spirit, 
through human imperfection, is in danger of degenerating 
to selfish passion, which has a malignant influence on 
public measures. This danger is the greater because the 
corruption is not commonly owned, nor soon discerned. 
Such as are the most ^diseased with it are apt to be the 
most insensible to their error. 

The exorbitant wealth of individuals has a most baneful 
influence on public virtue, and therefore should be care 
fully guarded against. It is, however, acknowledged to 
be a difficult matter to secure a state from evils and mis 
chiefs from this quarter ; because, as the world goes, and 
is like to go, wealth and riches will have their command 
ing influence. The public interest being a remoter object 
than that of self, hence persons in power are so generally 
disposed to turn it to their own advantage. A wicked 
rich man, we see, soon corrupts a whole neighborhood, and 
a few of them will poison the morals of a whole com 
munity. This sovereign power of interest seems to have 
been much the source of modern politics abroad, and has 
given birth to such maxims of policy as these, viz., that 
"the wealth of a people is their truest honor," that "every 
man has his price," 1 that "the longest purse, and not the 
longest sword, will finally be victorious." But we trust and 
hope that American virtue will be sufficient to convince 
the world that such maxims are base, are ill-founded, and 
altogether unfit and improper to influence and lead in 
government. In the infancy of states there is not com 
monly so much danger of these mischiefs, because the love 

1 Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, is the reputed author of the saying 
that all men have their price; but his biographer, Archdeacon Cox, 
says. the words were "all those men," speaking of a particular party in 
opposition. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 339 

of liberty and public virtue are then more general and 
vigorous ; but the danger is apt to increase with the wealth 
of individuals. These observations are founded upon 
such well-known facts, that the rulers of a free state have 
sufficient warning to guard against the evils. The general 
diffusion of knowledge is the best preservative against 
them, and the likeliest method to beget and increase 
that public virtue, which, under God, will prove, like the 
promises of the gospel, an impregnable bulwark to the 
state. l 

I must not forget to mention religion, both in rulers and 
people, as of the highest importance to the public. This 
is the most sacred principle that can dwell in the human 
breast. It is of the highest importance to men, the 
most perfective of the human soul. The truths of the 
gospel are the most pure, its motives the most noble and 
animating, and its comforts the most supporting to the 
mind. The importance of religion to civil society and 
government is great indeed, as it keeps alive the best 
sense of moral obligation, a matter of such extensive 
utility, especially in respect to an oath, which is one of the 
principal instruments of government. The fear and rever 
ence of God, and the terrors of eternity, are the most 
powerful restraints upon the minds of men ; and hence it 
is of special importance in a free government, the spirit 
of which being always friendly to the sacred rights of 
conscience, it will hold up the gospel as the great rule of 
faith and practice. 2 Established modes and usages in 



1 " It is substantially true that virtue, or morality, is a necessary spring 
of popular government. Promote, then, as an object of primary im 
portance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge." Washington. 

ED. 

2 " Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, 
religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man 



340 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

religion, more especially the stated public worship of God, 
so generally form the principles and manners of a people, 
that changes or alterations in these, especially when nearly 
conformed to the spirit and simplicity of the gospel, may 
well be esteemed very dangerous experiments in govern 
ment. For this, and other reasons, the thoughtful and 
wise among us trust that our civil fathers, from a regard 
to gospel worship and the constitution of these churches, 
will carefully preserve them, and at all times guard against 
every innovation that might tend to overset the public 
worship of God, though such innovations may be urged 
from the most foaming zeal. Persons of a gloomy, 
ghostly, and mystic cast, absorbed in visionary scenes, 
deserve but little notice in matters either of religion or 
government. Let the restraints of religion once be broken 
down, as they infallibly would be by leaving the subject 
of public worship to the humors of the multitude, 1 and 
we might well defy all human wisdom and power to sup 
port and preserve order and government in the state. 
Human conduct and character can never be better formed 



claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great 
pillars of human happiness, these primest props of the duties of men and 
citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to re 
spect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections 
with private and public felicity. Let it be simply asked, where is the 
security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obli 
gation desert the oaths whif h are the instruments of investigation in courts 
of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality 
can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the 
influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and 
experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in 
exclusion of religious principles." Washington s Farewell. ED. 

1 This strong language was not considered extravagant. By "the 
humors of the multitude," so much dreaded, was meant simply leaving 
public worship to the voluntary support of the community, by which it is 
now sustained. See p. 181, note 1. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 341 

than upon the principles of our holy religion ; they give 
the justest sense, the most adequate views, of the duties 
between rulers and people, and are the best principles in 
the world to carry the ruler through the duties of his 
station ; and in case a series of faithful services should be 
followed with popular censure, as may be the case, yet the 
religious ruler will find the approbation of his conscience 
a noble reward. 

Many other things might be mentioned as circumstances 
much in favor of a free government and public liberty, as 
where the inhabitants of a state can, in general, give their 
suffrages in person, and men of abilities are dispersed in 
the several parts ,of a state capable of public office and 
station ; especially if there is a general distribution of 
property, and the landed interest not engrossed by a few, 
but possessed by the inhabitants in general through the 
state. Things of this nature wear a kind aspect. But, 
for the preservation and permanence of the state, it is of 
still higher importance that its internal strength be sup 
ported upon the great pillars of capacity, defence, and 
union. The full liberty of the press that eminent in 
strument of promoting knowledge, and great palladium 
of the public liberty being enjoyed, the learned profes 
sions directed to the public good, the great principles of 
legislation and government, the great examples and truths 
of history, the maxims of generous and upright policy, and 
the severer truths of philosophy investigated and appre 
hended by a general application to books, and by observa 
tion and experiment, are means by which the capacity 
of a state will be strong and respectable, and the number 
of superior minds will be daily increasing. Strength, 
courage, and military discipline being, under God, the 
great defence of a state, as these are cultivated and im 
proved the public defence will increase ; and if there is 

29* 



342 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

added to these a general union, a spirit of harmony, the 
internal strength and beauty of the state will be great 
indeed. The variety and freedom of opinion is apt to 
check the union of a free state ; and in case the union be 
interrupted merely from the freedom of opinion, contest 
ing for real rights and privileges, the state and its govern 
ment may still be strong and secure, as was, in fact, the 
case in ancient Rome, in the more disinterested periods of 
that republic. But if parties and fictions, arising from 
false ambition, avarice, or revenge, run high, they endanger 
the state, which was the case in the latter periods of the 
republic of Rome. Hence the parties in a free state, if 
aimed at the public liberty and welfare, are salutary ; but 
if selfish interest and views are their source, they are both 
dangerous and destructive. 

The language of just complaint, the voice of real griev 
ance, in most cases may easily be distinguished from the 
mere clamor of selfish, turbulent, and disappointed men. 
The ear of a righteous government will always be open to 
the former; its hand with wisdom and prudence will sup 
press the latter. And, since passion is as natural to men 
as reason, much discretion should be used to calm and 
quiet disaffected minds. Coercives in government should 
always be held as very dangerous political physic : such as 
have gone into the practice have commonly either killed or 
lost their patients. 

A spirit of union is certainly a most happy omen in a 
state, and, upon righteous principles, should be cultivated 
and improved with diligence. It greatly strengthens pub 
lic measures, and gives them vigor and dispatch ; so that 
but small states, when united, have done wonders in de 
fending their liberties against powerful monarchs. Of this 
we have a memorable example in the little state of Athens, 
which destroyed the fleet of Xerxes, consisting of a thou- 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 343 

sand ships, and drove Darius with his army of three hun 
dred thousand men out of Greece. 

It must not be forgotten that much, very much, depends 
upon rulers to render a free government quiet, permanent, 
and respectful; they ought therefore, in an eminent degree, 
to possess those virtues and abilities which are the source 
and support of such a government. 1 The modern maxims 
of policy abroad, the base arts of bribery and corruption, 
of intrigue and dissimulation, will soon be productive of 
evils and mischiefs in the state ; and, since a corruption of 
manners almost necessarily follows a corruption of policy, 
the rulers of a free state ought to be influenced by the 
most generous and righteous principles and views. Igno 
rant and designing men should be kept from public offices 
in the state, as the former will be dupes to the ambitious, 
and the latter will be likely to prove the instruments of 
discord. Men, upon their first promotion, commonly act 
and speak with an air of meekness and diffidence, which 
however may consist with firmness and resolution. The 
practice of power is apt to dissipate these humble airs; for 
this and other reasons it may generally be best not to con 
tinue persons a long time in places of honor and emolu 
ment. 

The qualities of a good ruler may be estimated from the 
nature of a free government. Power being a delegation, 
and all delegated power being in its nature subordinate 
and limited, hence rulers are but trustees, and government 
a trust ; therefore fidelity is a prime qualification in a ruler ; 
this, joined with good natural and acquired abilities, goes 
far to complete the character. Natural Disposition that is 
benevolent and kind, embellished with the graceful modes 
of address, agreeably strike the mind, and hence, in prefer 
ence to greater real abilities, will commonly carry the votes 

1 See p. 69, note 1, p. 86, note a, pp. 162, 168. ED. 



344 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

of a people. It is, however, a truth in fact, that persons 
of this cast are subject to a degree of indolence, from 
which arises an aversion to those studies which form the 
great and active patriot. It is also a temper liable to that 
flexibility which may prove prejudicial to the state. A 
good acquaintance with mankind, a knowledge of the lead 
ing passions and principles of the human mind, is of high 
importance in the character before us ; for common and 
well-known truths and real facts ought to determine us in 
human matters. We should take mankind as they are, 
and not as they ought to be or would be if they were per 
fect in wisdom and virtue. So, in our searches for truth 
and knowledge, and in our labors for improvement, we 
should keep within the ken or compass of the human mind. 
The welfare of the public being the great object of the 
ruler s views, they ought, of consequence, to be discerning 
in the times always awake and watchful to the public 
danger and defence. And in order that government may 
support a proper air of dignity, and command respect, the 
ruler should engage in public matters, and perform the 
duties of his office, with gravity and solemnity of spirit. 
With wisdom he will deliberate upon public measures; 
and, tenacious of a well-formed purpose and design, he will 
pursue it with an inflexible stability. Political knowledge, 
a sense of honor, an open and. generous mind, it is con 
fessed, will direct and urge a ruler to actions and exertions 
beneficial to the state ; and if, added to these, he has a 
principle of religion and the fear of God, it will in the 
best manner fit him for the whole course of allotted duty. 
The greatest restraints, the noblest motives, and the best 
supports arise from our holy religion. The pious ruler is 
by far the most likely to promote the public good. His 
example will have the most happy influence ; his public 
devotions will not only be acts of worship and -homage to 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 345 

God, but also of charity to men. Superior to base passions 
and little resentments, undismayed by danger, not awed 
by threatenings, he guides the helm in storm and tempest, 
and is ready, if called in providence, to sacrifice his life for 
his country s good. Most of all concerned to approve 
himself to his God, he avoids the subtle arts of chicanery, 
which are productive of so much mischief in a state ; ex 
ercising a conscience void of offence, he has food to eat 
which the world knows not of, and in the hour of his 
death that solemn period has a hope and confidence 
in God, which is better than a thousand worlds. 

A state and its inhabitants thus circumstanced in respect 
to government, principle, morals, capacity, union, and rul 
ers, make up the most striking portrait, the liveliest emblem 
of the Jerusalem that is above, that this world can afford, 
That this may be the condition of these free, independent, 
and sovereign states of America, we have the wishes and 
prayers of all good men. Indulgent Heaven seems to in. 
vite and urge us to accept the blessing. A kind and won 
derful Providence has conducted us, by astonishing steps, 
as it were, within sight of the promised land. We stand 
this day upon Pisgah s top, the children of the free woman, 
the descendants of a pious race, who, from the love of lib^ 
erty and the fear of God, spent their treasure and spilt 
their blood. Animated by the same great spirit of liberty, 
and determined, "under God, to be free, these states have 
made one of the noblest stands against despotism and 
tyranny that can be met with in the annals of history, 
either ancient or modern. One common cause, one com 
mon danger, and one common interest, has united and 
urged us to the most vigorous exertions. From small be 
ginnings, from great weakness, impelled from necessity 
and the tyrant s rod, but following the guidance of Heaven, 
we have gone through a course of noble and heroic 



346 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

actions, with minds superior to the most virulent menaces, 
and to all the horrors of war; for we trusted in the God 
of our forefathers. We have been all along the scorn and 
derision of our enemies, but the care of Heaven, the charge 
of God ; and hence our cause and union, like the rising 
sun, have shone brighter and brighter. Thanks be to 
God ! we this day behold in the fulness of our spirit the 
great object of our wishes, of our toils and wars, brighten 
ing in our view. The battles we have already fought, the 
victories a we have won, the pride of tyranny that must 
needs have been humbled, mark the characters of the free 
men of America with distinguished honor, and will be read 
with astonishment by generations yet unborn. 

The lust of dominion is a base and detested principle, 
the desire of revenge is an infernal one ; and the former, 
if opposed, commonly produces the latter. From these 
our enemies seem to have taken their measures, and hence 
have treated us with the greatest indignities, reproaches, 
insults, and cruelties that were ever heaped upon a peo 
ple when struggling for their all. The remembrance of 
these things can never be lost. And although, under God, 
American wisdom and valor have hitherto opposed and 
baffled both their force and fraud, and we trust ever will, 
yet justice to our cause, to ourselves, and to our posterity, 
as well as a most righteous resentment, absolutely forbid 



a The memorable and complete victory obtained over General Burgoyne and 
his whole army will not only immortalize the character of the brave General 
Gates and the officers and troops under his command, but, considering the im 
mense expense Britain would beat in replacing such an army in America, to 
gether with other reasons, renders it highly probable it may prove one of the 
capital events that decides the war and establishes the independency of these 
states.l 

i See the Prefatory Note. A very full and complete account of this 
event in every view is presented in ^ossing s Field Book of the Revolution, 
vol. i., chaps, ii. iii. Read, also, Dawson s Battles of the United States, 
Book I., ch. xxv. ED. 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 347 

that anything should pacify our minds short of a full and 
perfect independence. This, supported by the wisdom, 
virtue, and strength of the continent, must be our great 
charter of liberty. Nature has given us the claim, and the 
God of nature appears to be helping us to assert and main 
tain it. I am led to speak upon this point with the great 
est confidence, from the late measures and resolves of that 
august assembly, the American Congress, which were so 
circumstanced and timed as must, with their general con 
duct, raise a monument to their fame that will bid defiance 
even to the devouring hand of time itself. 1 

We must be infidels, the worst of infidels, to disown or 
disregard the hand that has raised us up such benevolent 
and powerful assistants in times of great distress. How 
wonderful that God, who in ancient times " girded Cyrus 
with his might," should dispose his most Christian Majesty 
the king of France to enter into the most open and gener- 
our alliance 2 with these independent states ! an event in 
providence which, like the beams of the morning, cheers 
and enlivens this great continent. We must cherish the 
feelings of gratitude to such friends in our distress ; we 
must hold our treaties sacred and binding. 

Is it possible for us to behold the ashes, the ruins, of 
large and opulent towns that have been burnt in the most 
wanton manner, to view the graves of our dear country 
men whose blood has been most cruelly spilt, to hear the 
cries and screeches of our ravished matrons and virgins 
that had the misfortune to fall into the enemies hands, 
and think of returning to that cruel and bloody power 
which has done all these things? No ! We are not to sup 
pose such a thought can dwell in the mind of a free, sensi- 

i See Prefatory Note " Confederation." ED. 

4 2 By treaty of February 6, 1778. War between England and France 
followed close after, March 13th. ED. 



348 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

ble American. The same feelings in nature that led a 
Peruvian prince to choose the other place, must also teach 
us to prefer connections with any people on the globe 
rather than with those from whom we have experienced 
such unrighteous severities and unparalleled cruelties. 

It seems as if a little more labor and exertion will bring 
us to reap the harvest of all our toils ; and certainly we 
must esteem the freedom and independency of these states 
a most ample reward for all our sufferings. In preference 
to all human affairs our cause still merits, and ever has 
done, the most firm and manly support. In this, the 
greatest of all human causes, numbers of the virtuous 
Americans have lost their all. I recall my words they 
have not lost it; no, but, from the purest principles, have 
offered it up in sacrifice upon the golden altar of liberty. 
The sweet perfumes have ascended to heaven, and shall be 
had in everlasting remembrance. 

In this stage of our struggle we are by no means to 
indulge to a supine and dilatory spirit, which might yet be 
fatal, nor have we to take our resolutions from despair. 
Far from this, we have the noblest motives, the highest 
encouragements. I know the ardor of the human mind is 
apt in time to abate, though the subject be ever so impor 
tant ; but surely the blood of our friends and countrymen, 
still crying in our ears, like the souls of the martyrs under 
the altar, must arouse and fire every nobler passion of the 
mind. Moreover, to anticipate the future glory of Amer 
ica from our present hopes and prospects is ravishing and 
transporting to the mind. In this light we behold our 
country, beyond the reach of all oppressors, under the 
great charter of independence, enjoying the purest lib 
erty ; beautiful and strong in its union ; the envy of 
tyrants and devils, but the delight of God and all good 
men ; a refuge to the oppressed ; the joy of the earth ; 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 349 

each state happy in a wise model of government, and 
abounding with wise men, patriots, and heroes ; the 
strength and abilities of the whole continent, collected 
in a grave and venerable council, at the head of all, seek 
ing and promoting the good of the present and future 
generations. Hail, my happy country, saved of the Lord ! 
Happy land, emerged from the deluges of the Old World, 
drowned in luxury and lewd excess ! Hail, happy pos 
terity, that shall reap the peaceful fruits of our suffer 
ings, fatigues, and wars ! With such prospects, such trans 
porting views, it is difficult to keep the passions or the 
tongue within the bounds of Christian moderation. But 
far be it from us to indulge vain-glory, or return railing 
for railing, or to insult our foes ; we cultivate better prin 
ciples of humanity and bravery, and would much ruther 
cherish the feelings of. pity, especially to those of our ene 
mies of better minds, whose names, with the baser, may 
appear in the pages of impartial history with indelible 
blemish. We wish, from the infatuation, and wickedness, 
and fate of our enemies, the world would learn lessons in 
wisdom and virtue ; that princes would learn never to 
oppress their subjects ; that the vaunting generals of Brit- 
ian would learn never more to despise and contemn their 
enemy, nor prove blasphemers of God and religion. We 
wish the whole world may learn the worth of liberty. And 
may the inhabitants of these states, when their indepen 
dence and freedom shall be completed, bless God for ever 
and ever; for thine, O Lord, is the power, and the glory, 
and the victory. 

But, under our raised expectations of seeing the good 
of God s chosen, let us think soberly, let us act wisely. 
The public still calls aloud for the united efforts both of 
rulers and people ; nor have we as yet put off the harness. 
We have many things amiss among ourselves that need to 

30 



350 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

be reformed, many internal diseases to cure, and secret 
internal enemies to watch against, who may aim a fatal 
blow while making the highest pretensions to our cause ; 
for plausible pretences are common covers to the blackest 
designs. We wish we had more public virtue, and that 
people would not be so greedy of cheating themselves and 
their neighbors. We wish for much greater exertions to 
promote education, and knowledge, and virtue, and piety. 
But in all states there will be such as want no learning, no 
government, no religion at all. 

For the cure of our internal political diseases, and to 
promote the health and vigor, the defence and safety, of 
the state, our eyes, under God, are directed to our rulers ; 
and, from that wisdom and prudence with which they 
have conducted our public affairs in the most trying times, 
we have the highest encouragement to look to them. 

As a token of unfeigned respect, the honorable gentlemen 
of both Houses of Assembly present will permit me, by way 
of address, to observe, that the freemen of this state, by 
delegating their powers to you, my civil fathers, have re 
posed the greatest trust and confidence in you, from whence, 
we doubt not but you are sensible, arises the most sacred 
obligation to fidelity. Preserving a constant sense of this, 
and keeping the public welfare as your great object in view, 
we trust you will never be wanting in your best endeavors 
and most vigorous exertions to defend and deliver your 
country. The matters of the war will undoubtedly, at pres 
ent, claim your first and principal attention, always es 
teeming its great object, the liberty of your country, of more 
inestimable value than all the treasure of the world ; and 
therefore, to obtain and secure it, no necessary charges or 
costs are to be spared. The internal matters of the state 
that claim your attention, though they may pass a severe 
scrutiny, will be noticed with all justice and impartiality; 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1778. 351 

and in the choice of a Council, that important branch 
of our Legislature from which we have experienced such 
eminent services of which branch, or one nearly similar, 
we hope this state will never be destitute, in this choice, 
persons of known ability, of public virtue and religion, and 
possessed of the spirit of liberty, will have the preference. 1 
The burdens of your station are always great, and in 
these times are much increased ; but you have the best 
of motives for exertion, you have the consolation which 
arises from the fullest assurance of the justice of our cause ; 
you have the unceasing prayers of good men ; more than 
all these, you have the countenance and smiles of Heaven : 
with unceasing ardor, therefore, you will strive to be 
laborers together with God. 

1 COUNCILLORS FOR 1778. 
For the old Colony of MASSACHUSETTS BAY: 

Hon. ARTEMAS WARD, Esq.; Hon. TIMOTHY EDWARDS, Esq.; 

BENJ. GREEN LEAF, Esq.; OLIVER PRESCOTT, Esq.; 

CALEB CUSHING, Esq.; JOSIAH STONE, Esq.; 

THOMAS GUSHING, Esq.; TIMOTHY DANIELSON, Esq.; 

JABEZ FISHER, Esq.; OLIVER WENDELL, Esq.; 

BENJ. WHITE, Esq.; SAMUEL NILES, Esq.; 

BENJ. AUSTIN, Esq.; JOHN PITTS, Esq.; 

DANIEL HOPKINS, Esq.; ELEAZER BROOKS, Esq.; 

FRANCIS DANA, Esq.; SAMUEL BAKER, Esq. 

For the late Colony of NEW PLYMOUTH : 
Hon. WM. SEVER, Esq.; Hon. DAN. DAVIS, Esq.; 

WALTER SPOONKR, Esq.; NATHAN CUSHING, Esq. 

For the late Province of MAINE : 

Hon. JERE. POWELL, Esq.; Hon. JEDEDIAH PREBBLE, Esq.; 

Hon. JOSEPH SIMPSON, Esq. 

For SAGADAHOCK: 
Hon. HENRY GARDNER, Esq. 

AT LARGE: 

Hon. MOSES GILL, Esq. ; Hon. ABRAHAM FULLER, Esq. 

ED. 



352 



As nothing will be omitted that the good of the state 
calls for, we expect to see greater exertions in promoting 
the means of education and knowledge a than ever have 
yet been made among us. You will especially allow me, 
my fathers, to recommend our college, so much the glory 
of our land, to your special attention and most generous 
encouragements; for everything that is excellent and good 
that we hope and wish for in future, in a most important 
and essential sense, is connected with and depends upon 
exertions and endeavors of this kind. I need not observe, 
the leaders and rulers in our glorious cause have a fair 
opportunity of transmitting their names to posterity with 
characters of immortal honor. With my whole soul, I 
wish you the blessing of God, and the presence and guid 
ance of his Holy Spirit. 

My hearers, let us all hearken to the calls of our country, 
to the calls of God, and learn those lessons in wisdom 
which .are so forcibly inculcated upon us in these times, 
and by such wonderful measures in Providence. From a 
sacred regard both to the goodness and severity of God, 
let us follow the guidance of his providence, and in the 
way of duty leave ourselves and all events with God. 
Remembering that Jerusalem which is above is the mother 
of us all, that we are children " not of the bond woman, 
but of the free," let us stand fast in the liberty where- 



n In matters of science we have a most ample field open for improvement. To 
complete the geography of our country, to improve in the arts of agriculture 
and manufacture, and of physic, and other branches of science, are great objects 
that demand our special attention, and to obtain which an uninterrupted course 
of observation and experiment ought to be kept up. And if our General As 
sembly would form, and establish upon generous principles, a Society of Arts 
and Sciences 1 in this state, they would most certainly do great honor to them 
selves, and most eminent service to the public. 

* The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was incorporated in 
1780, and Mr. Payson was a valued contributor to its " Transactions." 
ED. 



353 

with Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again 
with the yoke of bondage. Imitating the virtue, the piety 
the love of liberty, so conspicuous in qur pious ances 
tors, like them let us exert ourselves for the good of poster 
ity. With diligence let us cultivate the spirit of liberty, 
of public virtue, of union and religion, and thus strengthen 
the hands of government and the great pillars of the state. 
Our own consciences will reproach us, and the world con 
demn us, if we do not properly respect, and obey, and 
reverence the government of our own choosing. The 
eyes of the whole world are upon us in these critical 
times, and, what is yet more, the eyes of Almighty God. 
Let us act worthy of our professed principles, of our glori 
ous cause, that in some good measure we may answer the 
expectations of God and of men. Let us cultivate the 
heavenly temper, and sacredly regard the great motive of 
the world to come. And God of his mercy grant the bless 
ings of peace may soon succeed to the horrors of war, and 
that from the enjoyment of the sweets of liberty here we 
may in our turn and order go to the full enjoyment of the 
nobler liberties above, in that New Jerusalem, that city 
of the living God, that is enlightened by the glory of God 
and of the Lamb. AMEN. 

30* 









SERMON 

PREACHED BEFORE THE 

HONORABLE COUNCIL, 

AND THE HONORABLE 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

OF THE 

STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, 

IN 

NE W-EN GLAND, 

% 

MAY siy 1780. 

BEING THE ANNIVERSARY FOR THE ELECTION 
OF THE HONORABLE COUNCIL. 

BY SIMEON HOWARD, A. M. 

Paftor of the Weft Church in BOSTON. 

N. B. Several paflages omitted in preaching are now 
inferted in the publication of this difcourfe. 

Kf99*m*fffi*f9fi9*^^ 

BOSTON, NEW. ENGLAND: 
Printed by JOHN G I LI, in COURT-STREET. 

MDCCLXXX. 



STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, IN COUNCIL, June 1, 1780. 

Ordered, That Moses Gill, Henry Gardner, and Timothy Danielson, Esquires, 
be and hereby are appointed a Committee to wait upon the Rev. Mr. Simeon 
Howard, and return him the thanks of this Board for his Sermon delivered 
yesterday before both Houses of the General Assembly ; and to request a copy 
thereof for the press. 

True Copy. 

Attest, SAMUEL ADAMS, Secretary. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



" AT the commencement of the dispute, in the first effusions of their zeal, 
and looking upon the service to be only temporary, the American officers 
entered into it without paying any regard to pecuniary or selfish con 
siderations It is not, indeed, consistent with reason or justice to 

expect that one set of men should make a sacrifice of property, domestic 
ease, and happiness, encounter the rigors of the field, the perils and vicis 
situdes of war, to obtain those blessings which every citizen will enjoy in 
common with them, without some adequate compensation. It must also 
be a comfortless reflection to any man, that, after he may have contributed 
to securing the rights of his country at the risk of his life and the ruin 
of his fortune, there would be no provision made to prevent himself 
and family from sinking into indigence and wretchedness." These were 
among the reflections presented by Washington, in January, 1778, to a 
committee of Congress on the causes of the numerous defects in the mili 
tary establishment. He recommended a " half-pay establishment," or 
life pension to the officers after the close of the war. " Besides," he 
added, " adopting some methods to make the provision for officers equal 
to their present emergencies, a due regard should be paid to futurity. 
Nothing, in my opinion, would serve more powerfully to reanimate their 
languishing zeal, and interest them thoroughly in the service, than a half- 
pay establishment. This would not only dispel the apprehension of per 
sonal distress, at the termination of the war, from having thrown them 
selves out of professions and employments they might not have it in their 
power to resume, but would, in a great degree, relieve the painful antici 
pation of leaving their widows and orphans a burden on the charity of 
their country, should it be their lot to fall in its defence." May 15th, 1778, 
Congress passed resolves which for a time relieved the distresses of the 
army ; but the inability of the public to perform their engagements, and 
the depression of public credit in subsequent years, " caused such dis- 



358 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

contents and uneasiness, that alarming consequences were feared." If 
the national and state credit should now be depreciated " sixty for one 
of specie, and even government take it at forty for one," its condition in 
1780, or seventy-five for one of specie, or even one hundred and twenty 
for one, as was the case in 1781, and this distress be in the midst of war 
against the greatest power in Christendom, and the evil be aggravated by 
the timid, sordid, and unscrupulous who infest every community, and the 
future be darkened by an uncertainty discouraging to even the most hope 
ful and patriotic, even in success, 1 all this would fail to impress us with 
the actual distress of that period. The terrible experience of the inefficiency 
of the "confederacy," having authority over states only, and not over the 
people, the individuals of the nation, was the cause of its abandon 
ment, and the adoption of the present Constitution, beginning, "WE, 
the people of the United States." 

The author of the following discourse needs no other memorial of his 
generous mind, sound judgment, and enlightened principles, than maybe 
found in his own pages. He fitly succeeded the gospel minister and 
patriot, the Rev. Dr. Mayhew, in his pastorate of the West Church of 
Boston, May 6, 1767, and was distinguished for the gentle virtues, mild 
ness, benevolence, charity; yet, says Dr. Allen, "he heartily engaged in 
promoting the American Revolution, and participated in the joy experi 
enced on the acknowledgment of our Independence." He was a native 
of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, born May 10, 1733, graduated at Harvard 
College in 1758, and, after a prosperous ministry of thirty-seven years, 
died August 13, 1804, and was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Lowell. The 
present constitution of Massachusetts was now before the people, wait 
ing for their adoption, and Mr. Howard s sermon was a consideration 
of the principles of free civil government, and of the character and con 
duct of civil rulers essential to its administration. The constitution was 
adopted by the popular vote, but not with unanimity. The government 
was organized October 25, 1780, and John Hancock was chosen the first 
governor. 2 

1 Congress, in its appeal to the states, September 13th, 1779, declared that a that 
period had past " when honest men could doubt of the success of the Revolution. 
The greatness of Washington, the immense cost of our liberty, the intolerable 
wrongs and cruelties of the war, cannot be appreciated without a study of the 
financial history of the Revolution the most painful and gloomy, yet one of 
the most instructive chapters in our history. See Ramsay, Marshall, Wash 
ington s Letters, and FelVs Massachusetts Currency. 

2 Barry s History of Massachusetts, iii. 177-182. 



DISCOURSE YIII 

ELECTION SERMON. 



THOU SHALT PROVIDE OUT OF ALL THE PEOPLE ABLE MEN, SUCH AS FEAR 
GOD, MEN OF TRUTH, HATING COVETOU8NESS J AND PLACE SUCH OVER THEM 

TO BE RULERS. Exodus xviii. 21. 



ALMIGHTY God, who governs the world, generally carries 
on the designs of his government by the instrumentality 
of subordinate agents, hereby giving scope and opportu 
nity to his creatures to become the ministers for good to 
one another, in the exercise of the various powers and 
capacities with which he has endowed them. Though, for 
the vindication of his honor, to dispel the darkness and 
give a check to the idolatry and vice which overspread the 
world, and in order to prepare mankind for the reception 
of a Saviour, to be manifested in due time, God was 
pleased to take the Jewish nation under his particular care 
and protection, and to become their political law-giver and 
head ; yet he made use of the agency of some of that peo 
ple in the administration of his government. The legis 
lative power he seems to have reserved wholly to himself, 
there being no evidence that any of the rulers or assem 
blies of the people had authority to make laws ; but the 
judicial and executive powers were intrusted with men. 
At the first institution of the government, Moses seems to 
have exercised the judicial authority wholly by himself. 
In this business he was employed from morning till even- 



360 



ing, when Jethr.o, his frith er-in-law, the priest and prince 
of Midian, came to visit him. This wise man for such 
he surely was observed to Moses that this business was 
too heavy for him, and what he was not able to perform 
alone ; and therefore advised him to appoint proper per 
sons to bear the burden with him, provided it was agree 
able to the divine will. Moses, it is said in the context, 
hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all 
that he had said. There can be no doubt but that God 
approved this measure, though it was first suggested by 
a pagan, otherwise it would not have been adopted. It 
seems, indeed, to have been highly expedient, and even 
necessary. From whence it appears that even in this 
government, which was so immediately the work of God, 
room was left for men to make such appointments as by 
experience should be found necessary for the due adminis 
tration of it. The general plan was laid by God, and he 
was the sole legislator. This was necessary in that age of 
darkness, idolatry, and vice. Mankind seem to have been 
too ignorant and corrupt to form a constitution and a code 
of laws in any good measure adapted to promote their 
piety, virtue, and happiness ; but God left many smaller 
matters to be regulated by the wisdom and discretion of 
the people. This is agreeable to a general rule of the 
divine conduct, which is, not to accomplish that in a super 
natural or miraculous way which may be done by the exer 
tion of human powers. 

It is said in the context that, in compliance with the 
advice of Jethro, Moses chose able men, and made them 
rulers ; but it is generally supposed that they were chosen 
by the people. This is asserted by Josephus, and plainly in 
timated by Moses in his recapitulatory discourse, recorded 
in the first chapter of Deuteronomy, where he says to the 
people, " I spake unto you, saying, I am not able to bear 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 361 

you myself alone : take ye wise men, and understanding, 
and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers 
over you." So that these officers were without doubt 
elected by the people, though introduced by Moses into 
their office. And, indeed, the Jews always exercised this 
right of choosing their own rulers ; even Saul and David, 
and all their successors in the throne, were made kings by 
the voice of the people/ This natural arid important right 
God never deprived them ofj though they had shown so 
much folly and perverseness in rejecting him and desiring 
to have a king like the nations around them. 

The business for which Jethro advised that these rulers 
should be chosen was, to decide the smaller and less diffi 
cult matters of controversy that arose among the people, 
while causes of greater consequence were to be brought 
before Moses; so that they \vere a sort of inferior judicial 
officers or judges of inferior courts. Though they were 
not officers of the highest dignity and authority in the 
state, yet the Midianitish sage advised that they shoulfl be 
"able men, such as fear God; men of truth, hating covet- 
ousness;" judging that such men only were fit for office. 
He has here in a few words pointed out to us what sort of 
men are proper to be put in authority, whether in a higher 
or lower station ; for if such qualifications are necessary 
for this inferior office, they must surely be more so for the 
higher and supreme offices in government. And the con 
sideration of these qualifications is what I principally in 
tend in the following discourse. But, before I enter upon 
this, I would give a little attention to two or three other 
points. Accordingly, I shall consider, 

I. The necessity of civil government to the happiness 
of mankind. 

a See 1 Sam. xi., xv. ; 2 Sam. ii., iv., v., viii. 

31 



362 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

II. The right of the people to choose their own rulers. 
III. The business of rulers in general. 

These particulars being finished in a few words, I shall 
then, 

IV. Particularly consider the qualifications pointed out 
in the text as necessary for civil rulers. 

After which, the subject will be applied to the present 
occasion. 

I. Let us consider the necessity of civil government for 
the happiness of mankind. Men have, in all ages and 
nations, been induced, by a sense of their wants and weak 
nesses, as well as by their love of society, to keep up some 
intercourse with one another. A man totally separated 
from his species would be less able to provide for himself 
than almost any other creature. Some sort of society, 
some intercourse with other men, is necessary to his hap 
piness, if not to his very existence. 

Suppose, then, a number of men living near together, 
and maintaining that intercourse which is necessary for 
the supply of their wants, but without any laws or govern 
ment established among them by mutual consent, or in 
what is called a state of nature; in this state every one 
has an equal right to liberty, and to do what he thinks 
proper. The love of liberty is natural to all. It appears 
the first, operates the most forcibly, and is extinguished 
the last of any of our passions. And this principle would 
lead every man to pursue and enjoy everything to which 
he had an inclination. Several persons would no doubt 
desire and pursue the same thing, which only one could 
enjoy; hence contests would arise, and, no one else having 
a right to interfere, they must be settled by the parties ; 
but prejudice and self-love would render them partial 
judges, and probably prevent an amicable settlement, so 
that the dispute must at last be ended by the strongest 



1780. 363 

arm, and thus the liberty of the weak would be destroyed 
by the power of the strong. Every unsuccessful com 
petitor would think himself injured by another s seizing 
that to which, in his own opinion, he had an equal right, 
and would endeavor to obtain compensation. This would 
provoke retaliation, and naturally lead on to an endless 
reciprocation of injuries. The injured, who found himself 
unable to contend with his adversary, would call in the 
assistance of some more powerful combatant to avenge his 
cause. The aggressor, too, would endeavor to strengthen 
himself for defence, by associates ; and thus parties would 
be formed for rapine, devastation, and murder, and the 
peaceful state of nature soon be exchanged for a number 
of little, contending tyrannies, or for one successful one 
that should swallow up all the rest. This would generally 
be the case where men should attempt to live without laws 
or government ; nor can they any way secure themselves 
against all manner of violence and injuries from bad men 
but by uniting together in society, agreeing upon some 
universal rules to be observed by all; that controversies 
shall be determined, not by the parties concerned, but by 
disinterested judges, and according to established rules; 
that their determinations shall be enforced by the joint 
power of the whole community, either in punishing the 
injurious or protecting the innocent. 1 Man is not to be 
trusted with his unbounded love of liberty, unless it is 
under some other restraint than what arises from his own 
reason or the law of God, these, in many instances, 
would make but a feeble resistance to his lust or avarice ; 
and he would pursue his liberty to the destruction of his 
feJlow-creatures, if he was not restrained by human laws 
and punishment. 

Let us next consider, 

1 See pp. 86, note a; 280, 285. ED. 



364 



II. The right of the people to choose their own rulers. 

No man is born a magistrate, or with a right to rule over 
his brethren. If this were the case, there must be some 
natural mark by which it might be known to whom this 
right belongs, or it could answer no end ; but no man was 
ever known to come into the world with any such mark 
of superiority and dominion. 1 If a man, by the improve 
ment of his reason and moral powers, becomes more wise 
and virtuous than his brethren, this renders him better 
qualified for authority than others ; but still he is no magis 
trate or lawgiver till he is appointed such by the people. 

Nor has one state or kingdom a right to appoint rulers 
for another. This would infer such a natural inequality 
in mankind as is inconsistent with the equal freedom of 
all. One state may, indeed, by virtue of its superior power, 
assume this right, and the weaker state may be obliged to 
submit to it for want of power to resist. But it is an un 
just encroachment upon their liberty, which they ought to 
get rid of as soon as they can. It is a mark of tyranny on 
one side, and of inglorious slavery on the other. 

The magistrate is properly the trustee of the people. 
He can have no just power but what he receives from 
them. To them he ought to be accountable for the use he 
makes of this power. But if a man may be invested with 
the power of government, which is the united power of 
the community, without their consent, how can they call 



1 " Nature knew no right divine in man, 

No ill could fear in God; and understood 

A Sovereign Being but a sovereign good 

Who first taught souls enslaved, and realms undone, 

The enormous faith of many made for one? .... 

Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law; 

Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe, 

Then shared the tyranny, then lent it aid, 

And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects, made." POPE. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 365 

him to account? What check can they have upon him, 
or what security for the enjoyment of anything which 
he may see fit to deprive them of? They must in this 
case be slaves. But as every people have a right to be 
free, they must have a right of choosing their own rulers, 
and appointing such as they think most proper; because 
this right is so essential to liberty, that the moment a peo 
ple are deprived of it they cease to be free. This, as has 
been already observed, is a right which the Jews always 
enjoyed. They elected their kings, generals, judges, and 
other officers ; though in some few instances God did ex 
pressly point out to them the person whom they ought to 
choose, which, however, he has never done with any other 
people. 

Let us now consider, 

III. The business of rulers in general. 

And this is, to promote and secure the happiness of the 
whole community. For this end only they are invested 
with power, and only for this end it ought to be employed. 
The apostle tells us that the magistrate is God s minister 
for good to the people. 2 This is the sole end for which 
God has ordained that magistrates should be appointed 
that they may carry on his benevolent purposes in pro 
moting the good angl happiness of human society; and 
hence their power is said to be from God ; that is, it is so 
while they employ it according to his will. But when 
they act against the good of society, they cannot be said 
to act by authority from God, any more than a servant 
can be said to act by his master s authority while he acts 
directly contrary to his will. And no people, we may pre 
sume, ever elected a magistrate for any other end than 
their own good ; consequently, when a magistrate acts 

1 See p. 274. ED. 2 See pp. 75-77, 275. ED. 

31* 



366 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

against this end, he cannot act by authority from the peo 
ple; so tli.it he acts, in this case, without any authority 
either from God or man. He cannot, by any lawful au 
thority, act against, but only for the good of society. 
This, in general, is the business of civil rulers. But there 
are a variety of ways and means by which they are to 
carry on this business, and accomplish the important end 
of their institution, which it is quite beybnd my present 
design particularly to point out, though there may be 
occasion to suggest some of them in the progress of my 
discourse. Let us now consider, 

IV. The qualifications pointed out in the text as neces 
sary for rulers. 

1. They must be able men. God has made a great 
difference in men in respect of their natural powers, both 
of body and mind ; to some he has given more, to others 
fewer talents. Nor is there perhaps a less difference in 
this respect arising from education. And though there 
are none but what may be good members of civil society, 
as well as faithful servants of God, yet every one has not 
abilities sufficient to make him a good civil ruler. " Woe 
unto thee, O land, when thy king is a child," says Solomon, 
hereby intimating that the happiness of a people depends 
greatly upon the character of its rulers, and that if they 
resemble children in weakness, ignorance, credulity, fickle 
ness, etc., the people will of course be very miserable. By 
able men may be intended men of good understanding 
and knowledge, men of clear heads, who have improved 
their minds by exercise, acquired a habit of reasoning, 
and furnished themselves with a good degree of knowl 
edge, men who have a just conception of the nature and 
end of government in general, of the natural rights of 
mankind, of the nature and importance of civil and reli 
gious liberty, a knowledge of human nature, of the 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 367 

springs of action, and the readiest way to engage and 
influence the heart, an acquaintance with the people to 
be governed, their genius, their prejudices, their interest 
with respect to other states, what difficulties they are 
under, what dangers they are liable to, and what they 
are able to bear and do. These things are ever to be 
taken into consideration by legislators when they make 
laws for the intefnal police of a people, and in their trans 
actions with or respecting other states. It would be going 
too far to say that an honest man cannot be a good ruler 
unless he be of the first character for good sense, learning, 
and knowledge ; but it will not be denied that the more 
he excels in these things, the more likely he will be to rule 
well. He will be better able to see what measures are 
suited to the temper and genius of the people, and most 
conducive to the end of his institution ; how to raise 
necessary supplies for the expenses of government in 
w^ays most easy and agreeable to the people ; how to 
extricate them out of difficulties in which they may be 
involved ; how to negotiate with foreign powers ; how 
to prevent or mitigate the calamities of war by compro 
mising differences, or putting the people into a condition 
to defend themselves and repel injuries; in a word, how 
to render them happy and respectable in peace, or formi 
dable in war. These things require a very considerable 
degree of penetration and knowledge. 

As it is of great importance to the community that 
learning and knowledge be diffused among the people in 
general, it is proper that the government should take all 
proper measures for this purpose making provision for 
the establishment and support of literary schools and col 
leges. But ignorant and illiterate men will not be likely 
to be the patrons of learning ; unacquainted with its ex 
cellency and importance, and seeing no comeliness or 



368 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

beauty in it, they will reject and despise it, as the Jews 
did the great Teacher of wisdom who came from God. 
It would not be strange if such men, entrusted with the 
government of a people, should wholly neglect to make 
any provision for the encouragement of literature. It is 
therefore proper that rulers should be men of understand 
ing and learning, in order to their being disposed to give 
due encouragement and support to the teachers and pro 
fessors of the liberal arts and sciences. 1 

It may be further observed, that weak and illiterate 
men at the head of a government will be likely to place 
in inferior and subordinate offices men of their own char 
acter, merely because they know no better. 

But by " able men " may be intended men of courage, 
of firmness and resolution of mind, men that will not 
sink into despondency at the sight of difficulties, or desert 
their duty at the approach of danger, men that will haz 
ard their lives in defence of the public, either against in 
ternal sedition or external enemies ; that will not fear the 
resentment of turbulent, factious men ; that will be a ter 
ror to evil-doers, however powerful, and a protection to 
the innocent, however weak; men that will decide sea 
sonably upon matters of importance, and firmly abide by 
their decision, not wavering with every wind that blows. 
There are some men that will halt between two opinions, 
and hesitate so long when any question of consequence is 

1 Mr. Hiklreth says that only the constitutions of Pennsylvania, North 
Carolina, Massachusetts, and the second constitution of New Hampshire, 
made any mention of the all-important subject of education ; and in the 
two former states the clauses which required the Legislature to establish 
schools regained a dead letter. Jefferson attempted to introduce a system 
of common schools in Virginia, but did not succeed. Only New Hamp 
shire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland, could boast anything 
like a system of public education, and many years elapsed before their 
example was imitated. History of the United States, iii. 38-3-395. ED. 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 369 

before them, and are so easily shaken from their purpose 
when they have formed one, that they are on this account 
very unfit to be intrusted with public authority. 1 Such 
double-minded men will be unstable in all their ways ; 
their indecision in council will produce none but feeble and 
ineffectual exertions ; and this doubting and wavering in 
the supreme authority must be prejudicial to the state, 
and at some critical times* may be attended with fatal con 
sequences. Wise men will not indeed determine rashly, 
but when the case requires it they will resolve speedily, 
and act with vigor and steadiness. 1 

By " able men " may be further intended men capable 
of enduring the burden and fatigue of government, men 
that have not broken or debilitated their bodies or minds 
by the effeminating pleasures of luxury, intemperance , or 
dissipation. The supreme government of a people is 
always a burden of great weight, though more difficult at 
some times than others. It cannot be managed well with- 
out great diligence and application. Weak and effeminate 
persons are therefore by no means fit to manage it. But 
rulers should not only be able men, but, 

2. " Such as fear God." The fear of God, in the lan 
guage of Scripture, does not intend a slavish, superstitious 
dread, as of an almighty, arbitrary, and cruel Being, but 
that just reverence and awe of him which naturally arises 
from a belief and habitual consideration of his crlorious 

O 

perfections and providence, of his being the moral gov 
ernor of the world, a lover of holiness and a hater of vice, 
who sees every thought and design as well as every action 
of all his creatures, and will punish the impenitently vicious 
and reward the virtuous. It is therefore a fear of offend- 

1 Promptness and decision were peculiarly necessary at that time in the 
emergencies of the war. ED. 



370 



ing him productive of obedience to his laws, and ever 
accompanied with hope in his mercy, and that filial love 
which is due to so amiable a character. 

It is of great importance that civil rulers be possessed 
of this principle. It must be obvious to all that a practi 
cal regard to the rules of social virtue is necessary to the 
character of a good magistrate. Without this a man is 
unworthy of any trust or confidence. But no principle so 
effectually promotes and establishes this regard to virtue 
as the fear of God. A man may, indeed, from a regard to 
the intrinsic amiableness and excellency of virtue, from a 
mere sense of honor, from a love of fame, from a natural 
benevolence of temper, or from a prudent regard to his 
own temporal happiness, follow virtue when he is under 
no strong temptation to the contrary. But suppose him 
in a situation where he apprehends that temporal infamy 
and misery will be the certain consequence of his practis 
ing virtue, and temporal honor and happiness the conse 
quence of his forsaking it, without any regard to God, as his 
ruler and judge, and can we expect that he will adhere to 
his duty ? Will he sacrifice everything dear in this life in 
the cause of virtue, when he has no expectation of any 
reward for it beyond the grave ? Will he deny himself a 
present gratification, without any prospect of being repaid 
either here or hereafter ? Will he expose himself to re 
proach, poverty, and death, for the sake of doing good to 
mankind, without any regard to God as the re warder of 
virtue or punisher of vice ? This is not to be expected. 
We all love, and we ought to love, ourselves ; and all 
wish to be happy. Why, then, should a man give up pres 
ent ease and happiness for suffering and death in the cause 
of virtue, if he has no expectation that God will reward 
virtue? This would be acting against the principle of 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 371 

self-love, which is generally too powerful to be counter 
acted. 

But suppose a man to be habitually under the influence 
of this principle, that is, to believe and duly consider 
God as his ruler and judge, who will hereafter reward 
virtue and punish vice with happiness and tnisery respec 
tively, unspeakably greater than any to be enjoyed in this 
world, and he may then, upon rational principles, and in 
consistency with his self-love, forego the greatest tempo 
ral good, and expose himself to the greatest temporal evil, 
in the cause of virtue ; and we may reasonably expect 
that he will. Virtue will be his chief good ; he will be 
attached to it as to his very being, Avith all the strength 
and ardor of his love and desire of happiness. The fear 
of God, therefore, is the most effectual and the only sure 
support of virtue in the world. 

Men invested with civil powers are not, to be sure, less, 
but generally much more, exposed to temptations to violate 
their duty than other -men. They have more frequent 
opportunities of committing injuries, and may do it with 
less fear of present punishment; and therefore stand in 
need of every possible restraint to keep them from abusing 
their power by deviating into the paths of vice. 

It is further to be considered that the practice of piety, 
which is comprised in the fear of God, has a powerful ten 
dency to ennoble and dignify the mind, and beget in it an 
abhorrence of everything mean and base ; to inspire a 
magnanimity and fortitude of spirit that will support and 
carry it through the greatest dangers and difficulties ; to 
refine and purify the heart, to disengage it from the van 
ities of the world, and beget that good-will and benevolence 
which are the brightest part of a virtuous character. Con 
templating daily the perfections of the Deity, as displayed 
in the creation, government, and redemption of the world, 



372 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

must naturally tend to exalt the affections, and fix them 
upon divine things ; to make us love and desire to imitate 
the moral character of God, and consequently to weaken 
the force of those lusts which are so apt to draw men 
aside and entice them into sin ; to enliven every princi 
ple of virtue, and make us perfect, even as our Father in 
heaven is perfect. 

It is also to be observed that the human mind is liable 
to mistake and err ; that circumstances often occur, espe 
cially to those who are concerned in government, in which 
more wisdom is necessary than they are possessed of, even 
though they may be able men. In such cases we are 
directed to look up to God, the original and inexhaustible 
source of wisdom. Nor have we any reason to suspect 
that such applications will be in vain. God perfectly 
knows the human mind, and all the ways in which its 
views and determinations can be influenced, and he may, 
without infringing upon its moral liberty, by a power 
ful though imperceptible operation, put it into such a 
train of thinking as may give it a juster view and lead it 
to a wiser determination than it would otherwise have 
formed. There is, I apprehend, nothing in this suppo 
sition inconsistent with the principles of rational theol 
ogy and natural religion. ISTor, without supposing that 
God does thus interpose, is it easy to conceive how that 
part of the divine government which is in the hands of 
civil rulers should in all cases be adapted to the various 
circumstances of particular persons. But there is little 
reason to think that this light and direction will be 
granted to men who have no fear of God before their 
eyes, because, though they lack wisdom, they will not ask 
it of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth 
not. And rulers being without this divine counsel, it will 
not be strange if, merely for this reason, their conduct is 



1780. 373 

wrong and ill-judged, calculated in many instances not 
for the good, but the hurt of the people, and, it may be, at 
a critical time, for their utter destruction. 

There can be no doubt but God often brings distress 
and ruin upon a sinful people through the ill-management 
of their rulers, given up to error and blindness. In the 
nineteenth chapter of Isaiah we have a prophecy of the 
overthrow of the kingdom of Egypt ; and the infatuation 
of their rulers is mentioned as one of the immediate causes 
of this calamity. "The spirit of Egypt," says God, "shall 
fail, and I will destroy the counsel thereof." It is after 
wards added, " Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the 
counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become 
brutish." And in the twenty-ninth chapter of the same 
book God threatens his own people that, for their hypoc 
risy and other wickedness, "the wisdom of their wise men 
shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men 
shall be hid." In the same way, it is reasonable to sup 
pose, God often brings his judgments upon other nations. 
And, therefore, if a people desire to have rulers of wise 
and understanding hearts, counselled and directed by 
Heaven, they should take care that they be men who fear 
God. 

Let me observe, once more, that it is of great importance 
to their happiness that religion and virtue generally pre 
vail among a people ; and in order to this, government 
should use its influence to promote them. Rulers should 
encourage them, not only by their example, but by their 
authority ; and the people should invest them with power 
to do this, so far as is consistent with the sacred and 
inalienable rights of conscience, which no man is supposed 
to give up, or may lawfully give up, when he enters into 
society. But, reserving these, the people may and ought 
to give up every right and power to the magistrate which 

32 



374 ELECTION SERMON, 

will enable him more effectually to promote the common 
good, without putting it in his power essentially to injure 
it. He ought, therefore, to have power to punish all open 
acts of profaneness and impiety, as tending, by way of 
example, to destroy that reverence of God which is the 
only effectual support of moral virtue, and all open acts 
of vice, as prejudicial to society. He should have power 
to provide for the institution and support of the public 
worship of God, and public teachers of religion and virtue, 
in order to maintain in the minds of the people that rever 
ence of God, and that sense of moral obligation, without 
which there can be no confidence, no peace or happiness 
in society. 

"Without such care in government, there is danger that 
the people will forget the God that is above, arid abandon 
themselves to vice ; or, to say the least, impiety and vice 
are much less likely to become general where such care is 
taken than where it is not. And God having, in the con 
stitution of nature, made religion and virtue conducive, 
and even necessary, to the happiness of human society, he 
has thereby plainly taught us that it is the duty and busi 
ness of society, as such, or of the civil magistrate, to do 
everything to promote them that may be done without 
injuring the rights of conscience. And no man who has 
full liberty of inquiring and examining for himself, of 
openly publishing and professing his religious sentiments, 
and of worshipping God in the time and manner which he 
chooses, without being obliged to make any religious pro 
fession, or attend any religious worship contrary to his 
sentiments, can justly complain that his rights of con 
science are infringed. 1 And such liberty and freedom 

1 The scheme here indicated by Mr. Howard resembled that in the con 
stitution of Maryland, which authorized a " general and equal tax" for 
the support of the Christian religion, to be applied to the maintenance of 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 375 

every man may enjoy, though the government should 
require him to pay his proportion towards supporting 
public teachers of religion and morality. 

Taking this care of religion is so plain and important a 
duty, that the government which should wholly neglect it 
would not only act a very unwise and imprudent part 
with respect to themselves, but be guilty of base ingrati 
tude and a daring affront to Heaven. 1 By such conduct 
they would, as a community, in effect adopt the language 
of the profane fatalists mentioned by Job, who " say unto 
God, depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of 
thy ways. What is the Almighty that w r e should serve 
him ? And what profit shall we have if we pray unto 
him?" Now, although it is possible that rulers who have 
no religion themselves may enact proper laws to support 
it among the people, yet it is to be remembered that their 
example will have great influence, and, if that be irreligious 
and vicious, will in some measure defeat the good effects 
of their authority, and do more to spread corruption than 
that will to prevent it. It is therefore highly proper, in 



such minister as the tax-payer should designate, or, if he preferred it, to 
the support of the poor. Hildreth s U. S., iii. 383. See p. 298. ED. 

1 A clear and concise summary of the early constitutional provisions in 
the several states on the subject of religion may be found in Mr. Hil 
dreth s History of the United States, iii. 38:2-385. At the beginning of the 
Revolution, Congregationalism was the established religion in Massa 
chusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut; the Church of England in all 
the southern colonies, and partially so in New York and New Jersey. The 
equality of all Protestant sects was recognized in Rhode Island, Pennsyl 
vania, and Delaware; and of the Roman Catholics in the last two. The 
priests of the last-named sect were liable to perpetual imprisonment or 
death in Massachusetts and New York. In its history, principles, and 
sympathies, Catholicism was said to be subversive of free government; an 
enemy open or concealed, as expedient in its progress to free insti 
tutions, the printing-press, common schools, popular education, the Bible, 
and freedom of opinion and speech the safeguards of liberty. ED. 



376 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

order to promote piety and good morals among the people, 
that rulers be men who fear God who have a just sense 
of religion on their own minds, and conform to it in their 
lives. 

It may be proper to add, that though the fear of God 
may exist where there is no knowledge or belief of Chris 
tianity, yet that the scheme of doctrines contained in the 
gospel is much better calculated than any other known to 
the world to produce and strengthen that divine principle. 
The plan of redemption which it unfolds for the fallen 
race of men exhibits the Deity in the most amiable light, 
as the perfection of love and benevolence. " The solemn 
scenes which it opens beyond the grave ; the resurrection 
of the dead; the general judgment; the equal distribu 
tion of rewards and punishments to the good and bad, 
and the full completion of divine wisdom and goodness in 
the final establishment of order, perfection, and happiness," 
afford such motives to the love and reverence of God, and 
to the practice of all holiness and virtue, as can be drawn 
from no other scheme of religion ; and, therefore, a belief 
of the gospel of Christ may justly be considered as an im 
portant qualification for a civil ruler. 

I might observe further, under this particular, that impi 
ous, immoral men at the head of government, and having 
authority to appoint subordinate officers, will probably 
make choice of men of their own character, and in this 
way be a means of spreading corruption, and of much 
injury to society. 1 But I must pass on to consider another 
qualification of rulers. For, 

3. They must be men of truth. 

This means men free from deceit and hypocrisy, guile, 
and falsehood, men who will not, by flattery and cajol 
ing, by falsehood and slandering a competitor, endeavor to 

i See pp. 69, 70, 274. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 377 

get into authority ; and who, when they are in, will con 
scientiously speak the truth in all their declarations and 
promises, and punctually fulfil all their engagements. 

In treating with other states they will act with the same 
integrity which honest men do in their private affairs, and 
promise nothing but what they intend and think they shall 
be able to perform. Engagements already made to other 
powers they will honestly endeavor to fulfil, so far as it 
belongs to their department, without seeking or pretend 
ing a cause for failure when no such cause exists. 1 

They will show the same integrity and fidelity in their 
conduct towards individuals. They will not promise to 
any one what they have reason to think they cannot or do 
not intend to perform. Promises of government already 
made, the execution of which belongs to them, they will 



1 " I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, 

that honesty is always the best policy. Observe good faith and 

justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all: religion 
and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be good policy that does not 
equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no dis 
tant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and 
too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and 
benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the 
fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which 
might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has 
not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The 
experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles 
human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?" Washing 
ton s Farewell. 

" The pretended depth and difficulty in matters of state is a mere cheat. 
From the beginning of the world to this day you never found a com 
monwealth where the leaders, having honesty enough, wanted skill enough 
to lead her to her true interest at home and abroad." Harrington. 

" The laws by which God governs the world must be quite altered, the 
course of nature must be reversed, before it can reasonably be hoped that 
unrighteous schemes will operate for the real advantage of a people." 
Hcmmemvay. ED. 

32* 



378 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

look upon themselves bound to fulfil, if possible, that no 
man may be a sufferer by confiding in the public faith. 

Civil rulers generally bind themselves expressly, and 
always implicitly, by accepting their office, faithfully to 
discharge the duties of it, and a man of truth will pay 
a sacred regard to this engagement. He will not content 
himself with receiving the honors and emoluments of his 
office while he neglects the duties of it. Considering that 
he has solemnly bound himself to do this business, he will 
give the same care and attention to it that a prudent man 
in a private station does to his own particular concerns. 
A man of truth will not undertake an office for which he 
thinks himself incapable, because this would be promising 
to do what he is conscious he is incapable of doing ; nor 
will he be instrumental of appointing others to offices for 
which he thinks them unqualified: this would be acting 
falsely ; because, by the appointment, he declares that he 
thinks them qualified. Having solemnly engaged to use 
his power for the public good, he will never employ it in 
encouraging and supporting the enemies of his country, or 
carry on, under the mask of patriotism, measures to pro 
mote his own selfish and private views, or to screen and 
protect from public justice offenders against society. He 
will not employ his abilities to impose upon the under 
standings of others, and make the worse appear the better 
reason, in order to disguise truth and pervert justice. He 
will not suffer one man, or one part of the community, to 
be injured and robbed by another, when his office enables 
him to prevent it, because this would be violating his 
promise. In a word, he will to his utmost endeavor to 
answer the end of his institution by performing the duties 
of his station, and manifest by all his conduct that he is 
an honest, upright man. He will make no false pretences, 
he will put on no false appearances, but ever act with 
Christian simplicity and godly sincerity. 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 379 

Such will be the conduct of men of truth, and such 
men only are proper to be entrusted with authority over a 
free people. Rulers of this character will be honored, 
beloved, and confided in by their countrymen, and re 
spected by other nations ; their subjects will be easy and 
happy, united together in the bonds of truth and love, and 
by their union able to defend themselves against invaders; 
their government, resting on the basis of truth and justice, 
will be firm and stable, revered and honored both at home 
and abroad. Whereas that deceit and hypocrisy, that 
falsehood and insincerity, that dissimulation and craftiness, 
which have so often dictated the measures of government 
in most of the nations of the earth, and which are ex 
pressly recommended to rulers by Machiavel, and incul 
cated, among other immoralities, as necessary parts of a 
good education, in the celebrated and much-admired let 
ters of a late British nobleman to his son, a however they 
may sometimes succeed and procure some temporary ad 
vantages, will almost always weaken and disgrace the gov 
ernment which practises thern, b by sapping the foundation 
of public credit, producing uneasy jealousies, disaffection, 
divisions, and contempt of authority among the people, 
and leading them by example to the practice of the same 
insincerity, falsehood, and dishonesty towards one another 
which they see in their rulers, and by rendering them infa 
mous in the eyes of other nations, and perhaps raising up 
enemies to punish their perfidy. 

And it may without doubt be asserted with truth, upon 
the principles both of natural religion and revelation, that 
that government which is directed by truth and integrity 

a Lord Chesterfield. 

b "There is no safety where there is no strength, no strength without union, 
no union without justice, no justice where faith and truth in accomplishing 
public and private engagements is wanting." Sydney s discourses concerning 
government. 



380 



will bid the fairest to secure and promote the happiness 
of the community, however contrary this assertion may be 
to the principles and practices of modern courtiers and 
politicians. But I must proceed to the other qualification 
of a good ruler mentioned in the text, which is 

4. " Hating covetousness." Covetousness, you all know, 
is an inordinate desire of riches, such a desire as will 
make a man pursue them by unlawful means, and prevent 
his using them in a right manner. Hating covetousness 
is a strong expression to denote a freedom from this vi 
cious temper, and a sense of its unreasonableness and 
turpitude. 

That it is of great importance that civil rulers have this 
qualification will be evident on a little reflection. 

Covetousness is a fruitful source of corruption. A 
man governed by this appetite will be guilty of any enor 
mity for the sake of gratifying it. "They that will be 
rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many fool 
ish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and 
perdition ; for the love of money is the root of all evil." 
Almost all the oppression, fraud, and violence that has 
been done under the sun, has owed is rise and progress to 
covetousness. The indulgence of this vice debases the 
mind, and renders it incapable of anything generous and 
noble; contracts its views, destroys the principles of benev 
olence, friendship, and patriotism, and gives a tincture of 
selfishness to all its sentiments. It hardens the heart, and 
makes it deaf to the cries of distress and the dictates of 
charity; it blinds and perverts the judgment, and disposes 
it to confound truth and falsehood, right and wrong. 

A civil ruler, under the direction of this principle, will 
oppress and defraud his subjects whenever he has it in his 
power ; he will neglect the duties of his office whenever 
he can promote his private interest by the neglect ; he will 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 381 

enact laws to serve himself, not the community; and he will 
enact none that he thinks would be prejudicial to his pri 
vate interest, however beneficial they might be to the pub 
lic, however necessary for the support of justice and equity 
between man and man;*he will pervert justice, and rob the 
innocent for bribes ; he will discourage every measure that 
would occasion expense to himself, however salutary to 
his country. Rather than part with his money, he will see 
the arts and sciences, which are so ornamental and friendly 
to a community, languish, erudition starve, and the rising 
genius which promised glory to his country nipped in the 
bud by the cold hand of poverty ; yea, religion itself, the 
greatest honor and blessing of society, he will see lan 
guish and die, rather than impart anything to support its 
cause. And having long looked upon riches in the same 
light that good men do upon religion, as his chief good, 
and feeling the same attachment to them which they do 
to that, he may, if required by laws already made to pay 
anything for its support, absurdly plead that it is against 
his conscience, strangely mistaking his love of money for 
the love of God, and his covetousness for his conscience ; 
supposing, with those corrupters. of religion mentioned by 
the apostle, "that gain is godliness." If he has a voice in 
the appointment of subordinate officers, he will sell his 
vote to the highest bidder, and appoint such as will be 
most subservient to his private interest, however unquali 
fied for the office. In a word, all his conduct, all his rea 
soning and votes, will be tinctured by his selfish spirit; 
and in a critical time, when great expense is necessary 
for the public safety, he may by his parsimony be a means 
of the ruin of his country. 

But a ruler who hates covetousness will conduct in a 
very different manner. He will never oppress or wrong 
the community; the public interest will be always safe in 



382 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

his hands; he will freely expend his time and his estate in 
discharging the duties of his office for the good of his 
country ; he will be ever ready to promote good laws, 
though they deprive him of opportunities of making gain, 
and involve him in expense; he will devise liberal things, 
and cheerfully bear his part in the expense necessary to 
carry on every measure that promises advantage to his 
country; he will do all in his power to promote the liberal 
arts and sciences, manufactures, and all useful inventions, 
to encourage men of learning and genius, and to aid the 
cause of religion and virtue. In promoting men to places 
of trust, he will be influenced by no selfish, private views, 
but by a regard to the public good ; no bribe will purchase 
his vote for an unfit man, and, hating covetousness himself, 
no consideration will induce him to give it for a sordid, 
avaricious wretch ; he will neglect no measures necessary 
for the public safety and happiness for fear of parting with 
his money. In fine, all his conduct will bear the marks of 
his nobleness and liberality of sentiment, of his disinter 
estedness and public spirit. 

I have now considered the several qualifications of a 
good ruler mentioned in the text ; and they all appear 
necessary to form that character, whether in the legisla 
tive, executive, or judicial department. Nor is it easy to 
say in which they are most necessary, though it is not 
difficult to see that the want of any one of them in either 
must be prejudicial and dangerous to the community. 

But I must now make some reflections upon the sub 
ject, and apply it to the present occasion. And, 

1. What has been said of the necessity of government 
for the peace and happiness of mankind may lead us to 
reflect with shame upon the selfishness and corruption 
of our species, who, with all their rational and moral 
powers, can no otherwise be kept from injuring and de- 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 383 

stroying one another than by superior force, or the fear of 
temporal sufferings and punishment, and with whom you 
are no longer safe than it is unsafe for them to hurt you. 
This is a very humiliating consideration ; and, so far as we 
know, there is no other order of creatures throughout the 
boundless universe who, if left to their natural liberty, 
would be so mischievous to one another as man. 

2. This may also lead us to reflect, with pleasure and 
gratitude to God, upon the steps which have been taken 
by this people to frame a new constitution of govern 
ment, and that a plan has been formed which appears, in 
general, so well calculated to guard the rights and liber 
ties, and promote the happiness of society, and which, it 
is to be hoped, will soon be the foundation of our govern 
ment, instead of that insecure basis upon which it now 
rests. 1 

1 The constitution framed by the convention Sept. 1, 1779 March 2, 
1780, was adopted by the people, and the first Legislature under it assem 
bled at Boston, October 25, 1780. 

That " ALL MEN ARE BORN FREE AND EQUAL" was inserted in the 
Declaration of Rights by the late Judge Lowell, father of Rev. Dr. Charles 
Lowell, of the West Church, with express reference to the abolition of 
slavery. It was simply declaratory of public opinion, which expressed 
itself in our early laws, but with more force and distinctness, in later 
years, from the pulpit and the\>ress. I have found frequent and earnest 
reference to the subject in the sermons of the period, from which this 
volume is a selection. ^ 

The Rev. Dr. Hemmcnway, in a profound discourse on " A CHRISTIAN 
STATE," Massachusetts Election, 1784, alluding to a legal decision 
then lately made by the Supreme Judicial Court in that commonwealth, 
interpreting the clause, " All men are born free arrd equal," and involving 
the existence of slavery, used these words : " We rejoice to find the right of 
enslaving our fellow-men is absolutely disclaimed, is at length pro 
scribed, and is no longer suffered to live with us. And it is devoutly 
wished that the turf may lie firm on its grave." Yet the system in Mas 
sachusetts seems to have partaken rather of the spirit, though not of the 
form, of the old English relation of master and servant, or apprenticeship, 



384 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

3. We may likewise see, from what has been said, how 
much it is the duty and interest of a people to pay due 
submission to the orders of government, and to endeavor 
unitedly to support its authority. Both rulers and sub 
jects are perhaps too apt to consider their respective 
interests as distinct and separate, whereas they are in 
truth one and the same the prosperity and happiness of 
the whole community. Everything done by subjects in 
obedience to and support of the just authority of govern 
ment, is conducive to their own happiness ; and everything 
done by governors that is beneficial to the governed, is 
likewise so to themselves ; and it is from the mutual 
endeavors of both to serve each other that the prosperity 
of society must result. If rulers abuse their power they 
may destroy the happiness of the community, but this 
may be done as effectually by the subjects refusing to 
obey and support the authority of government. 1 Nor may 
any people expect to enjoy all the blessings of society 
unless their government is preserved in due force and 
vigor. 

4. We are reminded of the gratitude which we owe 
to God that he has not permitted the natural and im 
portant right which every society has of electing its own 
rulers to be wrested out of oi!r hands, as is the case 



than of unlimited ownership; for the courts sometimes recognized in 
them rights inconsistent with the latter. 

It is worthy of note that no distinct provision on the subject of slavery 
appears in any state constitution, except that of Delaware, which 
provided that "no person hereafter imported from Africa ought to 
be held in slavery under any pretence whatever; " and that "no negro, 
Indian, or mulatto slave ought to be brought into this state for sale from 
any part of the world." Hildreth s History of the United States, iii. 
390, 391, 302. ED. 

i See pp. 87, 276. ED. 



385 



in some other countries. Had Great Britain carried on 
without opposition the measures she was pursuing with 
us, we should probably in a little time have been wholly 
deprived of this privilege. She had already assumed an 
absolute right of appointing two brances of the Legisla 
ture. 1 These would have had the appointment of all judi 
cial and military officers. And upon the same ground 
that she robbed us of the election of a governor formerly, 
and of councillors lately, she might have annihilated the 
House of Representatives ; or, if she had not done this in 
form, she might, by bribery and corruption, have rendered 
that House a mere tool to the servants of the crown, as is 
the case in that country. 2 It is therefore owing to the 
opposition which this people made to the measures of the 
British court, and to the blessing of God upon that oppo 
sition, that they have now a voice in appointing their own 
rulers ; otherwise our government might now have been 
in the hands of the weakest and most profligate favorites 
of that corrupt and infatuated court. 

5. We are reminded how much it is the duty and inter 
est of a people who are in the enjoyment of this right to 



1 The governor and council. ED. 

2 Thomas Paine, in " The Crisis, Number III.," one of his popular 
political appeals in 1775, addressed "To the King," used this language: 
" Sir, it is not your rotten troop in the present House of Commons; it is 
not your venal, beggarly, pensioned lords ; it is not your polluted, canting, 
prostituted bench of bishops; it is not your whole set of abandoned min 
isters, nor all your army of Scotch cut-throats, that can protect you from 
the people s rage." This not elegant but energetic appeal represents 
the contemporary feeling towards the British government, and was the 
language best suited to the times that " tried men s souls." The Earl of 
Chatham said, in the House of Peers, in 1770: "I do not say, my lords, 
that corruption lies here, or that corruption lies there; but if any gentleman 
in England were to ask me whether I thought both Houses of Parliament 
were bribed, I should laugh in his face, and say, Sir, it is not so! " See 
also p. 244, note 1. ED. 

33 v 



386 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

exercise it with prudence and integrity. The people s ap~ 
pointing their own rulers will be no security for their good 
government and happiness if they pay no regard to the 
character of the men they appoint. A dunce or a knave, 
a profligate or an avaricious worldling, will not make a 
good magistrate because he is elected by the people. To 
make this right of advantage to the community, due atten 
tion must be paid to the abilities and moral character of 
the candidate. This is a consideration that concerns this 
people at large, as all have a voice in the election of our 
rulers, either personally or by their representatives. But 
upon this occasion it is proper to observe that it especially 
concerns the members of the honorable Council and House 
of Representatives here present, by whom the councillors 
for the ensuing year are this day to be elected. And I 
shall not, I hope, be thought to go beyond my line of duty l 
if I say that the electors ought not to give their votes at 
random, or from personal or private views. They act in 
this business in a public character, by virtue of power 
delegated to them by the people, to whom, as well as to 
God, the origin of all power, they are accountable for the 
use they make of it. Nor can they answer it to either, or 
even to their own consciences, if, through interested or 
party view^s, they advance to the council-board men un 
qualified for the important duties of that station. At such 
a critical time as the present, the want of wisdom or integ 
rity in that House may be attended with the most fatal 
consequences. The advice of Jethro in the text demands 
the consideration of all those who are to bear a part in the 
elections of this day : " Provide out of all the people able 
men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetous- 
ness." There never was a time when such men were more 
necessary at that board than the present. Nor would I 

1 See pp. xxv., xxix. xxxviii., 47, 54. ED. 



780. 387 

entertain an opinion so dishonorable to my country as to 
suppose there are not such men in it ; though I cannot, at 
the same time, entertain an idea so flattering as to suppose 
there are not many among us who fall far short of this 
character. It belongs to the present electors to distinguish, 
so far as they can, these characters one from the other, and 
to give their votes only for the former. Whoever con 
siders the part which this Board has in legislation, their 
authority in directing the military and naval force of the 
state, their being invested with the supreme executive 
power, and, in some important cases, with a supreme judi 
cial power, will be sensible that great wisdom, integrity, 
and fortitude are necessary for the right management of 
these powers. Should they be committed to men of small 
abilities and little knowledge, men unacquainted with the 
nature of government, and with the circumstances of this 
state, men void of integrity, of narrow, contracted views, 
governed by ambition, avarice, or some other selfish pas 
sion, men of no fortitude and resolution, of dastardly, 
effeminate spirits, should such men, I say, be intrusted 
with the great and important powers vested in the Council, 
what could be expected but that their public conduct 
would bear the marks of their ignorance, weakness, effem 
inacy, and selfishness, to the great injury and dishonor, if 
not to the ruin, of the Commonwealth? And though such 
men may be as fond of this station as those who are best 
qualified for it, and perhaps much fonder, yet it would be so 
far from rendering them truly honorable, that it would only 
render them the more infamous, by bringing into public 
view their vices and defects, while the electors of such men 
would fix an indelible stain upon their own characters, and 
inherit the curses of the present and future generations. 

But men who have themselves been honored by the 
unbiased suffrages of their country must surely be too 



388 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

wise and virtuous thus to prostitute their votes ; and it 
may, I hope, be taken for granted that knowledge and 
integrity, the fear of God, and a public spirit, will govern 
in the ensuing election, and such men be raised to the 
council-board as will do honor to that respectable station, 
to their electors, and themselves. 1 

I now beg leave, with all due deference and submission, to 
suggest a few things that may reasonably be expected of a 
General Court, composed of such men as the text describes, 
by the people who have invested them with this power and 
authority. It may be expected that they will give due 
attention to the public affairs committed to their care. By 
accepting a seat in either House, a man does, implicitly at 

i COUNCILLORS FOR 1780. 
For the old Colony of MASSACHUSETTS BAY: 
t Hon. JAMES BOWDOIN, Esq.; Hon. SAMUEL NILES, Esq.; 

THOMAS CUSHING, Esq. ; SAMUEL BAKER, Esq. ; 

JABEZ FISHER, Esq.; JOHN PITTS, Esq.; 

SAMUEL HOLTON, Esq. ; t ELEAZER BROOKS, Esq. ; 

MOSES GILL, Esq.; AARON WOOD, Esq.; 

t BENJ. AUSTIN, Esq. ; t STEPHEN CHOATE, Esq. ; 

TIMOTHY DANIELSON, Esq.; t CALEB STRONG, Esq.; 

JOSIAH STONE, Esq.; t WILLIAM WHITING, Esq.; 

ABRAHAM FULLER, Esq. ; t JOSEPH DORR, Esq. 

For the late Colony of NEW PLYMOUTH : 

Hon. WALTER SPOONER, Esq.; Hon. NATHAN CUSHING, Esq.; 
DAN. DAVIS, Esq.; THOMAS DURFEE, Esq. 

For the late Province of MAINE : 

Hon. JERE. POWELL, Esq.; Hon. EDWARD CUTT, Esq.; 

Hon. JOSEPH SIMPSON, Esq. 

For SAGADAHOCK: 

Hon. HENRY GARDNER, Esq. 

AT LARGE: 
t Hon. ROBERT TREAT PAINE, ESQ. ; Hon. BENJAMIN WHITE, Esq. 

t Not of the Board the last year. 

ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 389 

least, solemnly engage to attend to the business which is 
there to be transacted. Nor do I see how he can with any 
propriety be called a man of truth who, after such engage 
ment, neglects that business for the sake of going to his 
farm, his merchandise, or his pleasure. It appears to me 
that such neglect argues great unfaithfulness in the delin 
quents, and it may be attended with very pernicious con 
sequences. Individuals may, and often do, plead in excuse 
for this, that the business may be done without them; but 
they ought to remember that every one has an equal right 
to excuse himself by this plea, and if all should do so, the 
concerns of the public must be wholly neglected. But 
it may be justly expected that our civil rulers will take 
due care to provide for the public defence. Notwithstand 
ing the great exertions we have already made, and the 
great things which God has done for us, we must still con 
tend with the enemies of our rights and liberties, or be 
come their abject slaves. And it depends in a great mea 
sure upon our public rulers, under God, whether we shall 
contend with success or not. It is by their seasonable and 
prudent measures that an army is to be provided and fur 
nished with necessaries to oppose the enemy ; and it must 
be the wish of every true American that nothing may be 
omitted which can be done to support and render success 
ful so important a cause, a cause so just in the sight of 
God and man, which Heaven has so remarkably owned, 
and all wise and good men approved, a cause which not 
only directly involves in it the rights and liberties of 
America, but in which the happiness of mankind is so 
nearly concerned, for in this extensive light I have 
always considered the cause in which we are contending. 
Should our enemies finally prevail, and establish that abso 
lute dominion over us at which they aim, they would not 
only render us the most miserable of all nations, but prob- 

33* 



390 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

ably be able, by the riches and forces of America, to triumph 
over the arms of France and Spain, and carry their con 
quests to every corner of the globe ; nor can we doubt but 
that they would carry them wherever there was wealth to 
tempt the enterprise. The noble spirit of liberty which 
has arisen in Ireland 1 would be instantly crushed, and the 
brave men who have appeared foremost in its support be 
rewarded with an axe or a halter. The few advocates for 
this suffering cause in Britain would be hunted and perse 
cuted as enemies to government, and be obliged in despair 
to abandon her interest. And in every country where this 
event should be known the friends of liberty would be 
disheartened, and, seeing her in the power of her enemies, 
forsake her, as the disciples of Christ did their Master; 
so that our being subdued to the will of our enemies 
might, in its consequences, be the banishment of liberty 
from among mankind. The heaven-born virgin, seeing 
her votaries slain, her altars overthrown, and her temples 
demolished, and finding no safe habitation on earth, would 
be obliged, like the great patron of liberty the First-born 
of God, to ascend to her God and our God, her Father 
and our Father, from whom she was sent to bless man 
kind, leaving an ungrateful world, after she had, like him, 
been " rejected and despised of men," in slavery and 
misery, till with him she shall again descend to reign and 
triumph on earth. Such might be the consequence should 
the arms of Britain triumph over us. Whereas, if America 
preserves her freedom, she will be an asylum for the op 
pressed and persecuted of every country; her example and 

1 Towards the close of the American war there sprang up in Ireland a 
large party, who declared that no power on earth could bind Ireland hut 
its own king, lords, and commons. January 1, 1800, the separate legis 
lature of Ireland being suppressed, its legislative union with Great Britain 
was effected. ED. 



PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 391 

success will encourage the friends and rouse a spirit of 
liberty through other nations, and will probably be the 
means of freedom and happiness to Ireland, and perhaps 
in time to Great Britain, and many other countries. So 
that our contest is not merely for our own families, friends, 
and posterity, but for the rights of humanity, for the civil 
and religious privileges of mankind. We have surely, 
then, a right to expect that the government of this state 
will neglect no measure that is necessary on their part to 
aid so interesting a cause, whatever difficulties or expense 
may attend it; and I hope it may with equal confidence 
be expected that the people will cheerfully lend their 
arms and bear the expense th at may be required for so 
glorious a purpose. Great expense must, without doubt, be 
necessary to carry on our defence ; but whoever is disposed 
on this account to give up the dispute, proves himself to 
tally unworthy of the liberty for which we are contending. 

As the support, or rather the recovery, of the public 
credit is absolutely necessary to our having a respectable 
army in the field, as well as to our internal peace and pros 
perity, it may be expected that this government will not 
be wanting in any measure for this purpose which wisdom 
and sound policy can suggest. 

If by means of the depreciation of our paper currency, 
and any law of this state, many persons have suffered, and 
are still liable to suffer great injury, if this injustice falls 
principally upon widows and fatherless children, and such 
others as are least able to support themselves under the 
loss, this surely is an evil that ought speedily to be re 
dressed ; and, if it be possible, compensation should be 
made to the sufferers by those who have grown rich by 
this iniquity. And as the General Court of the last year 
did with great justice make an allowance for the deprecia 
tion of the currency, in fixing their own wages, and in 



392 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

some other instances, it may justly be expected that the 
honorable court of this year will go on to extend this jus 
tice to every part of the community, and order the same 
allowance to be made in discharging all debts and contracts, 
however their private interests may be thereby affected. 

The large taxes now levying, and to be levied, make it 
peculiarly proper that great care should be taken in fixing 
the proportion which the different parts of the community 
are respectively to pay; and we have a right to expect 
that our honored fathers who are to guard the rights of the 
whole will not require any particular part to bear a greater 
proportion of this burden than is just, considering its ability 
and circumstances. 

Liberty and learning are so friendly to each other, and 
so naturally thrive and flourish together, that we may 
justly expect that the guardians of the former will not 
neglect the latter. The good education of children is a 
matter of great importance to the commonwealth. Youth 
is the time to plant the mind with the principles of virtue, 
truth and honor, the love of liberty and of their country, 
and to furnish it with all useful knowledge ; and though 
in this business much depends upon parents, guardians, and 
masters, yet it is incumbent upon the government to make 
provision for schools and all suitable means of instruction. 
Our college justly claims the patronage and assistance of 
the state, in return for the able men with which she has 
furnished the public, 1 not to observe that her present suf 
fering and low state renders her an object of pity. By the 
well-known depreciation, she, as well as many of her sons 
in the ministry, have lost a great part of their income, 
she and they having in this respect had the same hard lot 
with widows and orphans. 2 Nor will I suppose that we 
shall ever have a General Court of so little love to their 

1 See p. xxxiv. ED. 2 See page 368, note 1. ED. 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 393 

country, or so little sensible of the importance of literature 
to its virtue, liberty, and happiness so barbarous and 
savage as to suffer her, or any of her family, to languish in 
poverty, or to want what is necessary to their making a 
decent and honorable appearance. 1 

If anything can be done by government to discourage 
prodigality and extravagance, vain and expensive amuse 
ments and fantastic foppery, and to encourage the opposite 
virtues, we may reasonably hope it will not be neglected. 
The fondness of our countrymen or, shall I say, country 
women? for showy and useless ornaments, and other 
articles of luxury, has been remarked by a gentleman in 
Europe, of great eminence for political wisdom, as very un 
becoming our present circumstances. This is a folly that 
bodes ill to the public, and it must be the wish of every 
wise and good man that it were laid aside. Men in au 
thority, if they can do no more, may at least discoun 
tenance it by their example, and this will not be without 
its good effect. 

Finally, our political fathers will not fail to do all they 
can to promote religion and virtue through the commu 
nity, as the surest means of rendering their government 
easy and happy to themselves and the people. For this 
purpose they will watch over their morals with the same 
affectionate and tender care that a pious and prudent par 
ent Watches over his children, and, by all the methods 
which love to God and man can inspire and wisdom point 
out, endeavor to check and suppress all impiety and vice, 
and lead the people to the practice of that righteousness 
which exalteth a nation. If any new laws are wanting, or 
more care in the execution of laws already made, for dis 
couraging profaneness, intemperance, lewdness, extrava 
gant gaming, extortion, fraud, oppression, or any other 

1 See pp. 335, 352, 3G7. ED. 



394 THE ELECTION SERMON, 

vice, they will take speedy care to supply this defect, and 
render themselves a terror to evil-doers, as well as an en 
couragement to such as do well. They will promote to 
places of trust men of piety, truth, and benevolence. Nor 
will they fail to exhibit in their own lives a fair example 
of that piety and virtue which they wish to see practised 
by the people. They will show that they are not ashamed 
of the gospel of Christ, by paying a due regard to his 
sacred institutions, and to all the laws of his kingdom. 
Magistrates may probably do more in this way than in 
any other, and perhaps more than any other order of men, 
to preserve or recover the morals of a people. The man 
ners of a court are peculiarly catching, and, like the blood 
in the heart, quickly flow to the most distant members of 
the body. If, therefore, rulers desire to see religion and 
virtue flourish in the community over which they preside, 
they must countenance and encourage them by their own 
example. And to excite them to this, I must not omit to 
observe that, though the fear of God, a regard to truth, 
and a hatred of covetousness, are necessary to form the 
character of a good ruler, they are, if possible, still more 
necessary to form the character of a good man, and secure 
the approbation of God, the Judge of all ; for to him 
magistrates, in common with other men, are accountable. 
Nor does he regard the persons of princes any more than 
of their subjects. If they are impious and vicious, if they 
abuse their power, they may bring great misery upon 
other men, but they will surely bring much greater upon 
themselves. The eye of Heaven surveys all their coun 
sels, designs, and actions; and the day is coming when 
these shall all be made manifest, and every one receive 
according to his works. Happy they who in that day 
shall be found faithful, for they shall lift up their heads 
with confidence, and, amidst applauding angels, enter into 






PREACHED AT BOSTON, 1780. 395 

they joy of their Lord; while those who have oppressed 
and injured the people by their power, and corrupted 
them by their example, shall be covered with shame and 
confusion, and sentenced to that place of blackness and 
darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnash 
ing of teeth ! 

Let me now conclude by reminding this assembly in 
general that it concerns us all to fear God, and to be. men 
of truth, hating covetousness. The low and declining 
state of religion and virtue among us is too obvious not 
to be seen, and of too threatening an aspect not to be 
lamented, by all the lovers of God and their country. 
Though our happiness as a community depends much 
upon the conduct of our rulers, yet it is not in the power 
of the best government to make an impious, profligate 
people happy. How well soever our public affairs may 
be managed, we may undo ourselves by our vices. And 
it is from hence, I apprehend, that our greatest danger 
arises. That spirit of infidelity, selfishness, luxury, and 
dissipation, which so deeply marks our present manners, is 
more formidable than all the arms of our enemies. Would 
we but reform our evil ways, humble ourselves under the 
corrections, and be thankful for the mercies of Heaven ; re 
vive that piety and public spirit, that temperance and fru 
gality, which have entailed immortal honor on the memory 
of our renowned ancestors ; we might then, putting our 
trust in God, humbly hope that our public calamities would 
be soon at an end, our independence established, our 
rights and liberties secured, and glory, peace, and happi 
ness dwell in our land. Such happy effects to the public 
might we expect from a general reformation. 

But let every one remember that, whatever others may 
do, and however it may fare with our country, it shall 
surely be well with the righteous ; and when all the 



396 THE ELECTION SERMON, 1780. 

mighty states and empires of this world shall be dis 
solved, and pass away " like the baseless fabric of a vis 
ion," they shall enter into the kingdom of their Father, 
which cannot be moved, and, in the enjoyment and exer 
cise of perfect peace, liberty, and love, shine forth as the 
sun forever and ever. 



The UNITED STATES elevated to 
Glory and Honor. 

A 
SERMON, 

Preached before 
His EXCELLENCY 

JONATHAN TRUMBULL,Es Q L.L.D, 

Governor and Commander in Chief, 
And the HONORABLE 

The GENERAL ASSEMBLY 

O F 

The State of CONNECTICUT, 

Convened at Hartford, 
At the 

Anniverfary ELECTION, 

May 8th, 1783. 

By EZRA STILES, D. D. 

PRESIDENT OF YALE-CO ILKOE. 

NEW-HAVEN: 
Printed by THOMAS & SAMUEL GREEN. 

M.DCC.LXXrXIII. 



AT A GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State 
of CONNECTICUT, hoklen at Hartford on the second Thursday ol 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 

GEORE WYLLTS, Secretary. 



EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 



PRESIDENT STILES was one of the most learned and high-minded men 
of his time. He was familiar with the lore of the Hebrew and Christian 
Church. He conversed and corresponded in Hebrew, Latin, and French, 
with facility, and was learned in the Oriental literature and antiquities 
connected with Biblical history. He taught in astronomy, chemistry, and 
philosophy. He and his friend Dr. Franklin were among the earliest 
statisticians in America, and his studies in this science exhibit the most 
comprehensive and enlightened views. That he was a thorough antiquary 
is manifest in his history of the Three Tyrannicides, and that he was a 
true son of New England appears in his saying that the day of the 
" martyrdom" of King Charles I. " ought to be celebrated as an anniver 
sary thanksgiving that one nation on earth had so much fortitude and 
public justice as to make a royal tyrant bow to the sovereignty of the 
people." 

By an extensive foreign correspondence he kept up with the progress 
of knowledge and discovery, to which he himself contributed. That he 
was a zealous and an understanding friend of civil and religious liberty, a 
man of practical knowledge and observation, a sagacious student of men 
and things, is apparent in his discourse on " Christian Union," 1760, as 
well as in this remarkable sermon of 1783, on the " United States elevated 
to Glory and Honor." Chancellor Kent said, at the Commencement at 
Yale College, in 1831 : " President Stiles s zeal for civil and religious liberty 
was kindled at the altar of the English and New England Puritans, and it 
was animating and vivid. A more constant and devoted friend to the 
Revolution and independence of this country never existed. Take him for 
all in all, this extraordinary man was undoubtedly one of the purest and 
best gifted men of his age. Though he was uncompromising in his belief 
and vindication of the Protestant faith, he was nevertheless of the most 



400 EDITOR S PREFATORY NOTE. 

charitable and catholic temper, resulting equally from the benevolence of 
his disposition and the spirit of the gospel." The Rev. Dr. Channing said 
of Dr. Stiles : " This country has not perhaps produced a more learned 

man His virtues were proportioned to his intellectual acquisition. 

In his faith he was what is called a moderate Calvinist; but his 

heart was of no sect He desired to heal the wounds of the divided 

Church of Christ, not by a common creed, but by the spirit of love 

He wished to break every yoke, civil and ecclesiastical, from men s necks. 
To the influence of this distinguished man in the circle in which I was 
brought up, I may owe in part the indignation which I feel towards every 
invasion of human rights. In my earliest years I regarded no other 
human being with equal reverence." Nor did his zeal as a scholar lessen 
his fidelity as a pastor and preacher in his ministry at Newport, then 
second only to Boston in commerce. 

Ezra Stiles, son of Rev. Isaac Stiles, was born in North Haven, Con 
necticut, December 10, 1727; graduated at Yale in 1747; delivered a 
Latin oration, in 1753, in memory of Dean Berkeley, and another at 
New Haven, in February, 1755, in honor of Dr. Franklin, with whom he 
had a life-long friendship. He was minister at Newport, Rhode Island, 
from 1755 to the beginning of the war of the Revolution, in 1777; became 
pastor of the North Church in Portsmouth, but was soon appointed 
President of Yale College, an office which he adorned; and died May 
12th, 1795. The present edition of his Election Sermon is reprinted from 
the edition of 1783, at New Haven. It was reprinted in London, as a lite 
rary curiosity, in all the luxury and splendor of large paper and bold 
type. Sparks s American Biography, xvi. 78; Sprague s Annals, i. 470, 
479; Dr. Park s Life of Hopkins. 






DISCOURSE IX 

ELECTION SERMON". 



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. Deut. XXVi. 19. 

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 sover 
eignty, 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 commu 
nities 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 cov 
enant which Israel entered into with God on the plains at 
the foot of Nebo, on the other side Jordan. Here Moses, 

34* 



402 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON. 1783. 

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, to a world, a 
universe, becomes of invincible force and obligation with 
out 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 led his people to 
avouch the Lord Jehovah to be their God, and in the most 
public and explicit manner voluntarily to engage and cov 
enant 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 took them for a 
peculiar people to himself; promising to be their God and 
Protector, and upon their obedience to make them pros 
perous and happy. a 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 waitings 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 

a Deut. xxix. 10, 14; xxx. 9, 19. 






THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 403 

free, willing, joyful obedience; turn their captivity; recover 
and gather them " from all the nations whither 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. a Then the words of Moses, 
hitherto accomplished but in part, will be literally ful 
filled, when this branch of the posterity of Abraham shall 
be nationally collected, and become a very distinguished 
and glorious people, under the great Messiah, the Prince 
of Peace. He will then " make them high above all na 
tions 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 prophe 
cies 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 

a Deut. xxx. 3. 



404 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

end of all civil government. " That thou mayest be a holy 
people unto the Lord thy God." 

I. The first of these propositions will divide itself into 
two branches, and lead us to show, 

1. Wherein consists the true political welfare and pros 
perity, 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 domin 
ion 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 prop 
erty vested in individuals is pernicious to society. Civil 
ians, in contemplating the principles of government, have 
judged superior and inferior partition of property necessary 
in order to preserve, the subordination of society and es 
tablish a permanent system of dominion. This makes the 
public defence the interest of a few landholders only. 

A free tenure of lands,, an equable distribution of prop 
erty, 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 gen 
eral spirit and principle of self-defence defence of our 
property, liberty, country. This has been singularly veri 
fied in New England, where we have realized the capital 
ideas of Harrington s Ocean a. 1 

1 " The Commonwealth of Oceana," by James Harrington, Chief of the 
Commonwealth Club, was published in 1656, when Cromwell was in the 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 405 

But numerous population, as well as industry, is neces 
sary 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 Missis 
sippi. The Protestant Europeans have generally bought 
the native right of soil, as far as they have settled, and 
paid the value ten-fold, 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 Euro 
peans? 

Heaven hath provided this country, not indeed derelict, 
but only partially settled, and consequently open for the 
reception of a new enlargement of Japheth. Europe was 
settled by Japheth ; 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 Japheth. Already for ages has Europe 
arrived to a plenary, if not declining, population of one 
hundred 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 



meridian. The American Republic was born of the English Common 
wealth. The lineage is clear; and this reference by President Stiles to 
Harrington s schemes is one of many beautiful illustrations of the fact, 
which come up to the surface along the current of literature, and remain, 
as buoys, to mark the channel down which have flowed the great hopes 
of former days to become the verities of our own. ED. 



406 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

the enterprising spirit of Americans for colonization and 
removing out into the wilderness and settling new coun 
tries, 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 Amer 
ica, although they have transfused their blood into twice 
that 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 fulfil 
ment 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 patri 
arch with the visions respecting his posterity? How 
wonderful the accomplishments in distant and discon 
nected ages ! While the principal increase was first in 
Europe, westward from Scythia, the residence of the 
family of Japheth, 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 : a and thus he dwelt in the tents 
of Shern. Hence the singular and almost identical afiin- 

O 

ity between the Persic and Teutonic languages, through 
all ages, to this day. And now the other part of the 
prophecy is fulfilling in a new enlargement, not in the 

a Jos. Ant., lib. i. c. 6. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 407 

tents of Shem, but in a country where Canaan shall be his 
servant, at least unto tribute. 

I rather consider the American Indians as Canaanites 
of the expulsion of Joshua, 1 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 Phoanician 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." a Bochart and Sclclen conjecture the 
very Punic itself. Plato, ^Elian, 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 com 
mence the settlements of Mexico and Peru. Another 
branch of the Canaanitish expulsions might take the reso 
lution of the ten tribes, and travel north-eastward to where 
never man dwelt, become the Tchuschi and Tungusi Tar 
tars about Kamschatka and Tscukotskoinoss, in the 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 re 
gions. It is now known that Asia is separated by water 

a Ibi ex albis lapidibus constant COLUMNS DU^E prope magnum fontem erectae, 
Phcenicios liabeutescharacteres insculptos, qui Phoccicum lingua sic sonant: NOS 

II SUMUS QUI FUGERUNT A FACIE JoSHU^E PR^EDONIS FILII NAUE. Evagr. 

Hist. ecc. 1. 4, c 18. Procop. Vandalic, 1. 8. 

1 See Gookin s Historical Collections of the Indians, in Massachusetts 
Historical Collections, i. 144. ED. 



408 DR. STILES s ELECTION SERMON, i?83. 

from America, as certainly appears from the Baron Dul- 
feldt 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 Del Fuego, and from the Antilles to Otaheite, 
which show them to be one people. 

A few scattered accounts, collected and combined to 
gether, may lead us to two certain conclusions: 1 1. That 
all the American Indians are one kind of people ; 2. That 
they are the same as the people in the northeast of Asia. 

An Asiatic territory, three thousand miles long and 
fifteen hundred wide, above the fortieth degree of latitude, 
to the hyperborean ocean, contains only one million of 
souls, settled as our Indians, as appears from the numera 
tions and estimates collected by M. Mtiller and other 
Russian academicians in 1769. The Koreki, Jakuhti, and 
Tungusij, living on the eastern part of this territory next 
to America, are naturally almost beardless, like the Samoi- 
eds in Siberia, the Ostiacs and Calmucks, 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 usages, and fewer dissimilar ones, than 
the Arabians of the Koreish tribe and Jews who sprang 
from Abraham, or than those that subsist among European 
nations who sprang from one ancestor, or those Asiatic 
nations which sprang from Shein. The portrait-painter, 
Mr. Smibert, 2 who accompanied Dr. Berkeley, then Dean 

1 The learned and judicious paper, by Samuel Foster Haven, Esq., of the 
American Antiquarian Society, published by the Smithsonian Institute in 
18-50, gives an elaborate view of the " General Opinions respecting the Origin 
of Population in the New World," with a critical account of the literature 
upon this subject. ED. 

2 Smibert s picture of l)r. Berkeley and his family is in possession of 
YaleCollcffe. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 409 

of Deny, 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 Narrnganset 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, 1 and have been clearly perceived to be the 
same people. The Kamschatdale Tartars have been car 
ried over from Asia to America, and compared with our 
Indians, and found to be the same people. These Asiatic 
Tartars, from whom the American aboriginals derived, 
are distinct from and far less numerous than the Mon- 
gul and other Tartars which for ages, under Tamerlane 
and other chieftains, have deluged and overrun the south 
ern ancient Asiatic empires. Attending to the rational 
and just deductions from these and other disconnected 
data 2 combined together, we may perceive that all the 

1 Moravian settlement of Pennsylvania. ED. 

2 By his foreign correspondence Dr. Stiles was assiduous in learning the 
progress of discovery on the northwest coast of America. This collection 
of data, the bases of his " certain" deduction, well illustrate his intellectual 
life, his untiring acquisitiveness, for he gathered the facts more from 
observation than from books, his system ization, and his penetration and 
judgment. His theory is adopted by Dr. Charles Pickering, of the United 
States Exploring Expedition, who says : " I confess it was only on actually 
visiting the North Pacific that the whole matter seemed open to my view." 
He describes the islands of the Aleutian group, the countless inlets and 
channels connecting the two continents, and says, " Where, then, shall Asia 
end and America begin?" "Races of Man," Bohn s Ed., 18-34, p. 296. 

"The invention all admired, and each how he 
To be tir inventor missed ; so easy it seemed, 
Once found, which yet, unfound, most would have thought 
Impossible/ MILTON. ED. 

35 



410 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

Americans arc one people that they came hither cer 
tainly from the northeast of Asia; probably, also, from the 
Mediterranean ; and if so, that they are Canaanites, though 
arriving hither by different routes. The ocean current 
from the north of Asia might waft the beardless Samoieds 
or Tchuschi from the mouth of Jenesea or the Oby, around 
Nova Zembla to Greenland, an$ thence to Labrador, many 
ages after the refugees from Joshua might have colo 
nized the tropical regions. Thus Providence might have 
ordered three divisions of the same people from different 
parts of the world, and perhaps in 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 Japheth, or the former 
visitation of Madoc, 1001, or the certain colonization from 
Norway, A. D. 1001, as well as the certain Christianizing 
of Greenland in the ninth century, not to mention the visit 
of still greater antiquity by the Phoenicians, who charged 
the Dighton 1 rock, and other rocks in Narraganset 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 paleog 
raphy, judges them Punic, and has interpreted them as 
denoting that the ancient Carthaginians once visited these 
distant regions. 

Indians are numerous in the tropical regions; not so 



1 Dr. Stiles resided at Dighton for a while, after the war began, Newport 
being open to the enemy from the sea. The result of Mr. Schoolcraft s 
more careful study of the Dighton inscription is, that it is simply of Indian 
origin. The Mananas " inscription," coast of Maine, has excited a like 
interest. From a personal examination of it, in August, 18-35, I believe 
that the Hand Avhich made the rock made the " inscription." ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 411 

elsewhere. Baron la Hontan, the last century, and Mr. 
Carver so lately as 1776 and 1777, travelled northwest 
beyond the sources of the Mississippi. From their obser 
vations 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, In 
dians, 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 Chippeway language. And perhaps all 
the remaining territory north of New Spain, and even on 
this side the northern tropic, and northwestward to Asia, 
will not exhibit five times that number, at highest. 

Partly by actual numeration, and partly by estimate, the 
Indians in the Spanish dominions in America are consid 
ered as a million souls in New Spain, and a million and 
one-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 opin 
ion, 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 dtiys 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 Japheth. 
Six hundred and twelve thousand Indians pay tribute in 

a Carver s Trav., p. 415. 



412 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 j 1 and thus an 
unrighteous slavery may at length, in God s good provi 
dence, be abolished, and cease in this land of liberty. 

But, to return: The population of this land will probably 
become very great, and Japheth 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 diffu 
sion of the United States will ultimately produce the gen 
eral population of America. The northern provinces of 
China spread for ages, and at length deluged the southern 
with a very numerous and accumulated population. "In 
the multitude of people is the king s honor." a 

But a multitude of people, even the two hundred mil 
lion 2 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 
reserved in Providence to be realized in America. Most 

a Prov. xiv. 28. 

1 The cotton-gin, invented about 1793-4, by ELI WHITNEY, a native of 
Westborough, Massachusetts, December 8, 1765, turned " the whole course 
of industry in the southern section of the Union," and the fate of " the 
million Africans," and their descendants of mingled bloo^l. The total 
number of Indians in the United States territory was estimated, in 18-33, 
at 400,704. The total number of slaves, in 1854, was 3,204,313. The 
shameless ingratitude and wrong to Whitney are narrated in " Silliman s 
Journal," January, 1832. ED. 

2 The reader will readily excuse the omission of the author s long note 
on Chinese statistics, cited from Hatton s Geography, and Du Halde, v., 
p. 209. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 413 

of the states, of all ages, in their originals, both as to 
policy and property, have been founded in rapacity, usur 
pation, 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 the wars and invasions of the mutual rob 
bers and devastators of the human race. The invasion of 
the lawless Macedonian, who effected the dissolution of the 
Medo-Persian empire; the wide-spread 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 wide-spread domi 
nation of the impostor of Mecca, with his successors, the 
Caliphs and Mamelukes, down to KonK-Kan, who de 
throned his prince, and plundered India of two hundred 
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 in 
terest 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 por 
tion of the plebeians, be the victory as it should happen. 
These things have led some very 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 
Melchisedec to Abraham, upon his return from the slaugh- 

35* 



414 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

ter of Chelclerlaomer and the kings of the East, justified 
that holy patriarch. The war with Amelek, and the extir 
pation 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 Ninuses, the first invading ty 
rants of the ancient ages. The originally free and glori 
ous 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 four thousand years. 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, in either a mon 
archy or aristocracy, and these supported by a standing 
army. The Roman and Venetian senates were but a 
hereditary aristocracy, with an elective head. The sena 
torial succession is preserved independent of the people. 
True liberty is preserved in the Belgic and Hselvetic re- 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 415 

publics, and among the nobles in the elective monarchy of 
Poland. For the rest of the world, the civil dominion, 
though often wisely administered, is so modelled as to be 
beyond the control of those for whose end God instituted 
government. But a democratical polity for millions, stand 
ing upon the broad basis of the people at large, amply 
charged with property, has not hitherto been exhibited. 

Republics are democratical, aristocratical, or monarchical. 
Each of these forms admits 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 hered 
itary, terminate in the prostration of liberty. The greater 
part of the governments on earth may be termed monarch 
ical aristocracies, 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 be 
come ciphers and nullities in dominion. The once glori 
ous 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 Cyruses, Antonini, Alfreds, Boroihmeses. 
Indeed, if we look over the present sovereigns of Europe, 
we behold with pleasure two young princes, the em 
peror, 1 and the monarch of France, 2 who seem to be raised 
up in Providence to make their people and mankind happy. 



1 See p. 464, note 1. ED. 

2 Louis XVI., for the iniquities of his fathers, died upon the scaffold, 
January *21, 1793, aged thirty-eight. See p. 445, note 1. ED. 



416 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

A Ganganelli in the pontifical throne was a phoenix of 
ages, shone for his moment, and scarcely to be found as^ain 
in the catalogue of a Platina. 1 We see enterprising lit 
erary and heroic talents in a Frederick III., and wisdom 
in a Poniatowski. I add no more. But when we con 
template the other European and Asiatic potentates, and 
especially the sovereigns of Delhi, Ispahaun, and Constan 
tinople, one cannot but pity mankind whose lot is to be 
governed by despots of small abilities, immersed and riot 
ing in the splendor of a luxurious effeminacy. Nor could 
government proceed were not the errors and desultory 
blunders of royalty frequently corrected by the circum 
spection of a Colao, a few sensible characters, venerable 
for wisdom, called up among the stated councillors of 
majesty. 

Lord Bacon said that monarchy had a platform in na 
ture ; 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 wis 
dom 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 where God has 
imparted to none either this superior power or adequate 
wisdom beyond what falls to the common share of human 
ity, 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 

1 See p. 466, note 1. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 417 

hereditary superiority in knowledge. If it be 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 concentre the attention, obedience, and 
affection of subjects, and to consolidate the empire, will 
not counterbalance 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 dynas 
ties 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 govern 
ment into such hands? Why not much better since we 
for once have our option or choice to commit the direc 
tion of the republic to a Wittena-gemot, or an aristocrat- 

ical council of wise men? Should we call forth and dis- 

& 

nify some family, either from foreign nations or from 
among ourselves, and create a monarch, whether a hered 
itary 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, 1 that 

1 The eight volumes of Mrs. Macaulay s " History of England from the 
Accession of James I. to that of the Brunswick Line," appeared succes 
sively during the years 1763 to 1783. The high republican tone and noble 
zeal for liberty which distinguished this work, and the time of its publica- 






418 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 human 
ity ; and a protector for life, instead of devoting his time 
and understanding to the great cares of government, will 
be 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 s pro- 
ductive of such bloodshed and oppression that it has in 
clined politicians to give preference to hereditary rather 
than elective monarchies ; and, as the lesser evil, to con 
sign the government of society to the increasing and at 
length unlimited sway of one family, whether the individ 
uals of it should be idiots or madmen. It is an uncontro- 
verted fact, that supreme power never can continue long 
in one family without becoming unlimited." a 

We stand a better chance with aristocracy, whether he 
reditary or elective, than with monarchy. An unsystem- 
atical democracy and an absolute monarchy are equally 
detestable, equally a magormissabib, the terror to all 
around them. An elective aristocracy is preferable for 
America, as it is rather to be a council of nations 1 

a Mrs. Macaulay s letter to the author, 1771. 

tion, coincident with the period of the Revolution, rendered the author a 
great favorite with the American patriots and scholars. Dr. Stiles s lan 
guage was not an extravagant expression of her popularity in England or 
America. She visited Washington in 1785. He was one of her corre 
spondents. After a remarkable and somewhat eccentric life, she died in 
1791. ED. 
i See p. 458, and note 1. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 419 

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. 1 

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 consti 
tution ; for even an Ottoman or an Aurengzebe 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 the desiderata of politics, having hitherto baffled 
the investigation of the best writers on government, the 
ablest politicians, and the sagest civilians. A well-ordered 
democraticai aristocracy, standing upon the annual elec 
tions 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 ap 
prove itself the most equitable, liberal, and perfect. 

With the people, especially a people seized of prop 
erty, resides the aggregate of original power. They can 
not, 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 arid sovereignty. It is a question 
whether there should be any other ; to resolve which, it 

1 See p. 358, note 1. ED. 



420 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

may be considered that each of these delegates, or repre 
sentatives, will be faithful conservators of local interests, 
but have no interest in attending extensively to the pub 
lic, further than where all particular local interests are 
affected in common with that which one delegate repre 
sents 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 uni 
versal 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 the repeti 
tion 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 but that it is the duty of each deputy to attend to the 
general interest, Georgia, Pennsylvania, 1 arid 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 

1 The single legislature was a favorite idea with Dr. Franklin, and it is 
said that the high authority of his opinions in France aided its adoption 
there; and from the want of the Senate, or Upper House, as a great 
balance-wheel, came the horrors of the French Revolution. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 421 

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 an essential mischief in the hands of a chief magis 
trate who is annually elected by the people at large. But 
Connecticut and Rhode Island have originally realized the 
most perfect polity as to a legislature. Any emendations 
and improvements may be made by the Assembly, with 
respect to the establishment of the law courts, and a con 
stitutional 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 Vir 
ginia, 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 quamdiu se 
bene gesserint. It provides perfectly for legislation and 
law courts, for the militia, and for that continual admin 
istration 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 sover 
eignty in every civil polity, 

It gives me pleasure to find that public liberty is effect 
ually secured in each and all the policies of the United 
States, though somewhat differently modelled. Not only 
the polity, or exterior system of government, but the laws 
and interior regulations of each state, are already excel 
lent, 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 govern 
ment. And even if the people should sometimes err, yet 
each assembly of the states, and the body of the people, 

36 



422 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 ca 
pacity, are united 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 inte 
rior as well as exterior civil and jural polities 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 amphic- 
tyonic council l of the General Congress, standing on the 
annual election of the united respective states, and revoca 
ble 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 carry 
ing our policy to greater perfection and a more permanent 
and efficacious government, ifj I say, some elevated 
geniuses should go into the ideas of monarchy, whether 
hereditary or elective, and others think of a partition of 

1 Five years later, in 1788, James Madison, in the "Federalist," Nos. 18, 
38, describes this celebrated institution, as "it bore a very instructive 
analogy to the present confederation of the American Union." See p. 
458, note 1. KD 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 423 

the United States into three or four separate independent 
confederacies, perhaps, upon discussing the subject calmly 
and thoroughly, and finding 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 estab 
lished the policy of the Chinese empire for near twenty 
ages. a The ancient division of the empire subsisted by 
means of these symbols of dominion, which passed in suc 
cession to the nine principal mandarins, or supreme gov 
ernors under the 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 
its increasing stripes and stars, may have an equally com 
bining efficacy for ages. The senatorial constitution and 
consulate of the Roman Empire lasted from Tarquin to 
Caesar. The pragmatic sanction has probably secured the 
imperial succession in the House of Austria for ages. The 
Medo-Persian and Alexandrian empires, and that of Tam 
erlane, who reigned, A. D. 1400, from Smyrna to the 
Ganges, 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 Sardanapalus. Nor was the 
policy of Egypt overthrown for a longer period, from the 
days of Mitzrairn 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. 

a Du Halde, Hist. China. 



424 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 Ameri 
can codes of law, and the lex non scripta, the senatus con- 
sulta, and the common law, are already advanced 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, superin 
ducing 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, es 
pecially 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 no validity unless the tri 
bunals be filled with judges of independent sentiment, 
vast law knowledge, and of an integrity beyond the pos 
sibility 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 con 
nected 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 insti 
tution and revocation of law ; and the judges in their 
decisions are to be sacredly governed by the laws of the 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 425 

land. 1 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 sup 
ported, and be fixed in office guamdiu se bene gesserint. 

But I pass on to another subject, in which the welfare of 
a community is deeply concerned, I mean the public 
revenues. National character and national faith depend 
on these. Every people, every large community, is able to 
furnish a revenue adequate to the exigencies of govern 
ment. But this is a most difficult subject ; and what the 
happiest method of raising it, is uncertain. One thing is 
certain, that however in most kingdoms and empires the 
people are taxed at the will of the prince, yet in America 
the people tax themselves, and therefore cannot tax them 
selves beyond their abilities. But whether the power of 
taxing be in an absolute monarchy a power independent 
of the people, or in a body elected by the people, one 
great error lias, I apprehend, entered into the system of 
revenue and finance in almost all nations, viz., restricting 
the collection to money. Two or three millions can more 
easily be raised in produce than one million in money. 
This, collected and deposited in stores and magazines, 
would, by bills drawn upon these stores, answer all the 
expenditures of war and peace. The little imperfect ex 
periment lately made here should not discourage us. In 
one country it has been tried with success for ages, I 
mean in China, the wisest empire the sun hath ever shined 
upon. And here, if I recollect aright, not a tenth of the 
imperial revenues hath been collected in money. In rice, 
wheat, and millet only, are collected forty million of sacks, 
one hundred and twenty each, equal to eighty million 

1 In this connection read Mr. George Sumner s oration, Boston, July 4, 
1859, pp. 10, 51-67. ED. 

36* 



426 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

bushels; in raw and wrought silk, one million pounds. 
The rest is taken in salt, wines, cotton, and other fruits of 
labor and industry, at a certain ratio per cent., and depos 
ited in stores over all the empire. The perishable com 
modities are immediately sold, and the mandarins and 
army are paid by bills on these magazines. In no part of 
the world are the inhabitants less oppressed than there. 
England has eleven hundred millions property, real, 
personal, and commercial, and five million souls. Their 
ordinary revenue has for many years been ten or twelve 
millions ; and during this war the national expenditures 
have been annually twenty millions. A great part is raised 
by excise ; by the land tax not above a fifth or sixth, 
although the annual rental of England is really sixty mil 
lions. The funded debt has arisen from one hundred and 
twenty-three millions, A. D. 1775, to two hundred and 
thirty millions, in 1783, and can never be paid. 1 It is un 
paralleled in the annals of empires that six or seven mil 
lions of people ever discharged so heavy a burden. The 
Roman imperial debt was once in the times of the 
Caesars three hundred millions sterling, when the em 
pire consisted of thirty million of people. One emperor 
at his accession wiped out twenty millions, and the Goths 
and Vandals settled the rest to the ruin of thousands. 
May God preserve these States from being so involved ! 
The present war being over, the future increase of pop 
ulation and property will in time enable us with conven 
ience to discharge the heavy debt we have incurred in the 
defence of our rights and liberties. The United States 
have now two hundred and fifty millions of property, 
pretty equally shared by two or three million people. 

i The debt of Great Britain is 803,733,958. The population of the 
British Islands is 27,000,000, and of all territory under British rule, 
215,000,000. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 427 

And our national debt a is not ten million sterling, which 
is to the whole collectively as it would be for one man 
possessing an estate of two hundred and fifty pounds in 
land and stock to oblige himself to pay ten pounds. The 
interest only of the British national debt, upon six or seven 
million people, is above ten millions sterling annually; 
that is, greater than the whole national debt of the United 
States upon half that number. Our population will soon 
overspread the vast territory from the Atlantic to the 
Mississippi, which in two generations will become a prop 
erty superior to that of Britain. Thus posterity may 
help to pay for the war 1 which we have been obliged to 
fight out for them in our day. It will not, however, be 
wise to consign to posterity so heavy a debt, lest they 
should be tempted to learn, like other nations, the practice 
of public injustice and broken national faith. 

Another object of great attention in America will be 
commerce. In order to form some ideas respecting it in 
the United States, we may take a summary view of it 
while we were in connection with Britain, and thence 



a Forty-two millions of dollars at the peace. 

1 The gracious Providence which ordained Washington, no less created 
Hamilton specially for the nation. His genius brought order out of chaos, 
and created our permanent financial system. "At the time when our 
government was organized, we were without funds, though not without 
resources. To call them into action, and establish order in the finances, 
Washington sought for splendid talents, for extensive information, and, 
above all, he sought for sterling, incorruptible integrity. All these he 
found in Hamilton." Gouverneur Morris. "He smote the rock of the 
national resources, and abundant streams of revenue gushed forth. He 
touched the dead corpse of the public credit, and it sprang upon its 
feet. The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more 
sudden or more perfect than the financial system of the United States as 
it burst forth from the conception of Alexander Hamilton." Daniel 
Webster. See the admirable sketch of Hamilton and his Works in Alli- 
bone s Dictionary of Authors. ED. 



428 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

judge what it may be after we shall have recovered from 
the shock of this war. 

The British merchants represented that they received 
some profit indeed from Virginia and South Carolina, as 
well as the West Indies ; but as for the rest of this conti 
nent, they were constant losers in trade. Mr. Glover has 
candidly disclosed the truth; and he and other writers 
enable us to form some ideas of the matter. It appears, 
from an unclecennary account laid before Parliament in 
1776, that the state of commerce between England only 
and English America, for the eleven years preceding hostil 
ities, was thus : 

Exports to the Imports from the 

Continental colonies, 26! mil. ster. 131 mil. ster. 

West Indies, . . 14^ " " 35| " " ( mostly on acct. of the 

Total, 4T " " 49 f continental colonies. 

A commerce of twenty-six million exports, and only thir 
teen million imports, is self-annihilated and impossible. 
The returns from the West Indies comprehended a great 
part of the continental remittances. The American mer 
chants, by a circuitous trade from this continent and from 
Africa, remitted to London and Britain, by way of the 
West Indies, in bills of exchange drawn on sugars, the 
balance of what they seem to fall short in direct remit 
tances on the custom-house books. 

The whole American commerce monopolized by Great 
Britain must be considered collectively, and was to Eng 
land only in the above account forty-one million exports, 
and forty-nine million imports. This, inclusive of the 
twelve per cent, charged, amounted to a real annual profit 
of thirty-two per cent, to the English merchants, in actual 
remittances of the year, besides a standing American debt, 
it is said, of six million, carrying interest. Well might 



THE FUTU11E GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 429 

the British merchants sustain a loss in American bankrupt 
cies of a million a year though probably at an average 
not five or ten thousand in so lucrative a trade. 1 An 
idea of the mercantile debt may be thus conceived. There 
is a district within the United States upon which the state 
of European trade 2 at the commencement of hostilities 
was thus; being chiefly carried on by foreign factorages 
a mode of commerce which the British merchants intended 
to have been universal. In the course of a systematical 
trade had at length arisen a standing debt of a million 
sterling, among about a quarter of a million of people. To 
feed this the British merchants sent over one quarter of a 
million sterling annually ; for which, and collected debts, 
they received in actual remittance half a million sterling 
within the same year; i. e., a quarter of a million returned 
half a million, and fed or kept up a debt of one million, 
paying to Britain an annual lawful interest ; the security 
of all which complicated system stood upon American 
mortgages. This is true mercantile secret history. 

If this specimen applied to all the States and, God be 
thanked ! it does not it would show not only the great 
ness and momentous importance of our trade to Europe, 
but the necessity of legislative regulations in commerce, 
to invalidate future foreign mortgages, and yet support 
credit by the enforcement of punctual, speedy, and certain 
payments, whether with profit or loss. Without this no 
permanent commerce can be supported. I observed that 
the above specimen may assist us. It is not necessary for 
every purpose to come to great exactness in capital esti 
mates. The total exterior commerce of Great Britain 
with all the world is about twelve millions annually ; of 



1 See pp. 107, 127, note; 136. ED. 

2 Boston and Newport were the great marts of foreign trade. ED. 



430 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

which five millions, or near half, was of American connec 
tion, and four millions of this directly American, as Mr. 
Glover asserts ; and the real profit of the American trade 
was become to Britain equal to nearly half the benefit of 
her total exterior commerce to the whole world. The 
total of British exports to all the world, A. D. 1704, was 
only six millions and a half sterling. The American Brit 
ish trade, in its connections, returns, and profits, nearly 
equalled this, A. D, 1774. We were better to Britain than 
all the world was to her seventy years before. Despised 
as our commerce was, it is evident that, had the union 
continued, our increasing millions would soon have made 
remittances for more than the fewer millions of Britain 
could have manufactured for exportation ; for the greater 
part of the manufactures of every country must be for 
domestic consumption. A specimen of this we have in 
the woollen manufacture. England grows eleven million 
fleeces a year, worth two million sterling, manufactured 
into eight million ; of which six million is of domestic 
consumption, and two million only for exportation. When 
it is considered that a great part of this went to other 
countries, how weak must be the supposition that Britain 
clothed America ; while America, from the beginning, in 
their own domestic manufactures, furnished nine-tenths of 
their apparel. 

Our trade opens to all the world. We shall doubtless 
at first overtrade ourselves everywhere, and be in danger 
of incurring heavy mortgages, unless prevented. 1 The 
nations will not at first know how far they may safely 
trade with us. But commerce will find out its own sys- 

1 Child, Gee, Huske, and Glover wrote largely on American trade, and 
its value to England. Edmund Burke mastered its principles; and his 
speeches, especially that of 1775, contain much of the order observable in 
these pages of Dr. Stiles. ED. 






THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 431 

tern, and regulate itself in time. It will be governed on 
the part of America by the cheapest foreign markets ; on 
the part of Europe, by our ability and punctuality of re 
mittance. We can soon make a remittance of three or 
four million a year, in a circuitous trade, exclusive of the 
iniquitous African trade. 1 If Europe should indulge us 
beyond this, our failures and disappointments might lay 
the foundation of national animosities. Great wisdom is 
therefore necessary to regulate the commerce of America. 
The caution with which we are to be treated may occasion 
and originate a commercial system among the maritime 
nations on both sides of the Atlantic, founded in justice 
and reciprocity of interest, which will establish the benev 
olence as well as the opulence of nations, and advance the 
progress of society to civil perfection. 

It is certainly for the benefit of every community that 
it be transfused with the efficacious motives of universal 
industry. This w T ill take place if every one can enjoy the 
fruits of his labor and activity unmolested. All the variety 
of labor in a well-regulated state will be so ordered and 
encouraged as that all will be employed, in a just propor 
tion, in agriculture, mechanic arts, commerce, and the lit 
erary professions. It has been a question whether agri 
culture or commerce needs most encouragement in these 
states. But the motives for both seem abundantly suf 
ficient. Never did they operate more strongly than at pres 
ent. The whole continent is [in] activity, and in the lively, 
vigorous exertion of industry. Several other things call 
for encouragement, as the planting of vineyards, arid olive 
yards, and cotton-walks ; the raising of wool, planting 

1 The pulpits of Dr. Stiles and Dr. Hopkins, at Newport, R. I., then the 
headquarters of the African slave-trade, afford models of apostolic fidel 
ity in gospel preaching at " the sins of the times." They were Christian 
heroes. See Dr. Park s Memoir of Samuel Hopkins, D. D., 1854. ED. 



432 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

mulberry trees, and the culture of silk ; and, I add, estab 
lishing manufactories. 1 This last is necessary, very neces 
sary far more necessary, indeed, than is thought by 
many deep politicians. Let us have all the means possible 
of subsistence and elegance among ourselves, if we would 
be a flourishing republic of real independent dignity and 
glory. 

Another thing tending to the public welfare is, removing 
causes of political animosities and civil dissension, promot 
ing harmony, and strengthening the union among the 
several parts of this extended community. 2 In the memo 
rable bellum sociale among the Romans, three hundred 
thousand of Roman blood fought seven hundred thousand 
brethren of the Italian blood. After a loss of sixty thou 
sand, in disputing a trifling point of national honor, they 
pacificated the whole by an amnesty, and giving the city 
to the Italians.* We may find it^a wise policy, a few years 
hence, under certain exceptions, to settle an amnesty and 

aVid. Velleius paterc. 

1 Hildrcth, iii. 406. The imports from Great Britain in 1784 and 1785 
amounted in value to thirty millions of dollars, while the exports did not 
exceed nine millions. This ruinous competition was checked by the law 
of 1789, proposed by Hamilton, for the encouragement of manufactures, 
to which the war of 1812 gave a fresh impulse. They have felt the fluc 
tuations of party and of commerce, but the United States are now far 
advanced to the "real independent dignity" foreseen by Dr. Stiles in 
1783. Arkwright and Whitney, Fulton and Watt, divide the honors 
in this noble competition of industry. See p. 335, note 1. ED. 

2 In a sermon, preached in 1760, on the conquest of Canada, Drt Stiles 
said: " It is probable that in time there will be a Provincial Confederacy 
and a Common Council, and this may in time terminate in an Imperial Diet, 
when the imperial dominion will subsist, as it ought, in election." The 
sagacious author saw the " imperial dominion," as he called it in 1760, or 
" amnesty," as he termed it in 1783, consummated in the unanimous elec 
tion of Washington in 1789 as President of the Republic of " the people 
of the United States." This foreseeing, this repeated pi-cdiction, first of 
the Confederacy, and then of its " terminating " " in a few years" in the 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 433 

circulate a brotherly affection among all the inhabitants 
of this glorious republic. We should live henceforward 
in amity, as brothers inspired with and cultivating a cer 
tain national benevolence, unitedly glorying in the name 
of a Columbian or American, and in the distinguished 
honor and aggrandizement of our country; like that 
ancient national affection which we once had for the 
parent state while we gloried in being a part of the Brit 
ish empire, and when our attachment and fidelity grew to 
an unexampled vigor and strength. This appeared in the 
tender distress we felt at the first thoughts of the dissolu 
tion of this ancient friendship. We once thought Britain 
our friend, and gloried in her protection. . But some 
demon a whispered folly into the present reign, and Britain 
forced upon America the tremendous alternative of the 
loss of liberty or the last appeal, either of which instantly 
alienated and dissolved our affection. It was impossible 
to hesitate, and the affection is dissolved, never, never 
more to be recovered ; like that between Syracuse and 
Athens, it is lost forever. A political earthquake through 
the continent hath shook off America from Great Britain. 
Oh, how painful and distressing the separation and dis 
memberment! Witness, all ye patriotic breasts, all ye 
lovers of your country, once lovers of Great Britain 
witness the tender sensations and heartfelt violence, the 
reluctant distress and sorrow, with which ye were pene 
trated, when, spurned from a parent s love, ye felt the con 
viction of the dire necessity of an everlasting parting to 
meet no more never to be united again! 

O, England ! how did I once love thee ! how did I 
once glory in thee ! how did I once boast of springing 

a Bute. 

Union, is one of the most remarkable instances of political foresight and 
sagacity on record. ED. 

37 



434 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMOX, 1783. 

from thy bowels, though at four descents ago, and the 
nineteenth from Sir Adarn of Knapton ! In the rapturous 
anticipation of thine enlargement and reflourishing in this 
western world, how have I been wont to glory in the 
future honor of having thee for the head of the Britannico- 
American empire for the many ages till the millennium, 
when thy great national glory should have been advanced 
in then becoming a member of the universal empire of the 
Prince of Peace ! And if perchance, in some future period, 
danger should have arisen to thee from European states, 
how have I flown on the wings of prophecy, with the 
numerous hardy hosts of thine 1 American sons inheriting 
thine ancient principles of liberty and valor, to rescue and 
rein throne the hoary, venerable head of the most glorious 
empire on earth! But now, farewell a long farewell 
to all this greatness ! And yet even now, methinks, in 
such an exigency, I could leap the Atlantic, not into thy 
bosom, but to rescue an aged parent from destruction, and 
then return on the wings of triumph to this asylum of the 
world, and rest in the bosom of Liberty. 2 

1 Sec pp. 130-135, 184, 185, 238. ED. 

2 It is grand to find the magnanimous feelings and views of early times, 
briefly interrupted, again asserting their legitimate power in the leading 
minds of this day, and none would more enjoy and value the flow of 
good feeling and sound sense in the following passage than Washington 
and his associates : 

" Of all countries known in history, the North American Republic is 
most conspicuously marked by the fusion, or rather the absence, of rank 
and social distinctions, by community of interests, by incessant and all- 
pervading intercommunication, by the universal diffusion of education, 
and the abundant facilities of access not only to the periodical conduits, 
but to the permanent reservoirs of knowledge. The condition of England 
is in all these respects closely assimilated to that of the United States; 
and not only the methods, but the instruments of popular instruction 
are fast becoming the same in both, and there is a growing conviction 
among the wise of the two great empires that the highest interests of both 
will be promoted by reciprocal good-will and unrestricted intercourse, 



THE FUTUKE GLORY OP THE UNITED STATES. 435 

Moreover, as we have seen the wisdom of our ancestors 
in instituting a militia, so it is necessary to continue it. 
The Game Act, in the time of James I., insidiously dis 
armed the people of England. 1 Let us not be insidiously 
disarmed. In all our enlargements in colonization, in all 
our increasing millions, let the main body be exercised 
annually to military discipline, whether in war or peace. 
This will defend us against ourselves and against surround 
ing states. Let this be known in Europe, in every future 
age, and we shall never again be invaded from the other 
side of the Atlantic. " The militia 2 of this country," says 
General Washington, "must be considered as the palla 
dium of our security and the first effectual resort in case of 
hostility." 

Another thing necessary is a vigilance against corrup- 

perillcd by jealousies and estrangement. Favored, then, by the mighty 
elective affinities, the powerful harmonic attractions which subsist between 
the Americans and the Englishmen as brothers of one blood, one speech, 
one faith, we may reasonably hope that the Anglican tongue, on both 
sides of the Atlantic, as it grows in flexibility, comprehensiveness, expres 
sion, wealth, will also more and more clearly manifest the organic unity 
of its branches, and that national jealousies, material rivalries, narrow 
interests, will not disjoin and shatter that great instrument of social 
advancement which God made one, as he made one the spirit of the 
nation that uses it." Marsh, "English Language in America," Lecture 
xxx., 1800. ED. 

1 By the Act 3d James I., 1GOG, persons of an annual landed revenue 
of 100 were empowered to seize all guns and sporting implements from 
any and all persons of an income of less than 40 a year, they being 
deemed unqualified for the enjoyment of cony and deer hunting. In 
those days the king called upon all of 40 a year to receive knighthood, or 
pay into his royal palm a fee for escaping the honor. Such were the 
hazards of having "40 a year," or more or less; such the security of 
individual or popular rights; and such the boast of him who may hold 
his patent of nobility, temp. Jac. I. ED. 

2 The Constitution of the United States, 1789, provides that, "a well- 
regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right 
of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." ED. 



486 DR. STTLES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

tion in purchasing elections and in designations to offices 
in the Legislatures and Congress, instituting such effica 
cious provisions against corruption as shall preclude the 
possibility of its rising to any great height before it shall 
be controlled and corrected. 1 Although, in every political 
administration, the appointment to offices will ever be 
considerably influenced by the sinister, private, personal 
motives either of interest or friendship, yet the safety of 
the state requires that this should not go too far. An 
administration may indeed proceed tolerably when the 
officers of a well-arranged system are in general ordinary 
characters, provided there is a pretty good sprinkling of 
men of wisdom interspersed among them. Plow much 
more illustrious would it be if three quarters of the offices 
of government were filled with men of ability, understand 
ing, and patriotism! What an animation would it dif 
fuse through a community if men of real merit in every 
branch of business were sure of receiving the rewards and 
honors of the state! That great and wise monarch, Olam 

1 President Buchanan, whose many years and opportunities of observa 
tion and experience, early and late, give weight to his testimony both as 
to fact and principle, in a letter of the 22d of November, 18-38, wrote as 
follows : 

" I shall assume the privilege of advancing years in referring to another 
growing and dangerous evil. In the last age, although our fathers, like 
ourselves, were divided into political parties, which often had severe con 
flicts, yet we never heard, until a recent period, of the employment of money 
to carry elections. Should this practice increase until the voters and their 
representatives in tlae state and national legislatures shall become infected, 
the fountain of free government will then be poisoned at its source, and 
we must end, as history proves, in military despotism. A democratic 
republic, all agree, cannot long survive unless sustained by public virtue. 
When this is corrupted, and the people become venal, there is a canker at 
the root of the tree of liberty, which must cause it to wither and die." 

In a letter to the editor, in 1816, Hon. Henry Clay said of the system 
indicated by the phrase "To the victors belong the spoils," it is a "policy 
which I fear may, in the end, prove disastrous to our institutions." ED. 



THE SUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 437 

Fodhla, the Alfred of Ireland, one thousand years before 
Christ, instituted an annual review and examination of all 
the achievements and illustrious characters in the realm ; 
and, being approved by himself and the annual assembly 
of the nobles, he ordered their names and achievements to 
be enrolled in a public register of merit. This continued 
two thousand years, to the time of that illustrious chief 
tain, Brien O Boroihme. This had an amazing effect. By 
this animation, the heroic, military, and political virtues, 
with civilization, and, I add, science and literature, as 
cended to an almost unexampled and incredible perfec 
tion in Ireland, ages before they figured in other parts of 
Europe, not excepting even Athens and Rome. I have 
a very great opinion of Hibernian merit, literary as well as 
civil and military, even in the ages before St. Patrick. 

But to return : The cultivation of literature will greatly 
promote the public welfare. In every community, while 
provision is made that all should be taught to read the 
Scriptures, and the very useful parts of common education, 
a good proportion should be carried through the higher 
branches of literature. Effectual measures should be taken 
for preserving and diffusing knowledge among a people. 
The voluntary institution of libraries in different vicinities 
will give those who have not a liberal education an oppor 
tunity of gaining that knowledge which will qualify them 
for usefulness. Travels, biography, and history, the knowl 
edge of the policies, jurisprudence, and scientific improve 
ments among all nations, ancient and modern, will form 
the civilian, the judge, the senator, the patrician, the man 
of useful eminence in society. The colleges have been 
of singular advantage in the present day. 1 When Britain 

i There are 124 colleges, 51 theological schools, 10 law schools, and 40 
medical, in the United States. American Almanac, 1860. The United 

37* 



438 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

withdrew all her wisdom from America, this revolution 
found above two thousand, in New England only, who 
had been educated in the colleges, intermixed among 
the people, and communicating knowledge among them. 
Almost all of them have approved themselves useful; 
and there have been some characters among us of the 
first eminence for literature. 1 It would be for the public 
emolument should there always be found a sufficient 
number of men in the community at large of vast and 
profound erudition, and perfect acquaintance with the 
whole system of public affairs, to illuminate the public 
councils, as well as fill the three learned professions with 
dignity and honor. 

I have thus shown wherein consists the true political 
welfare of a civil community or sovereignty. The founda 
tion is laid in a judicious distribution of property, and in a 
good system of polity and jurisprudence, on which will 
arise, under a truly patriotic, upright, and firm adminis 
tration, the beautiful superstructure of a well-governed 
and prosperous empire. 

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 king 
doms of the world. And we have reason to hope, and, I 
believe, to expect, that God has still greater blessings in 
store for rliis vine which his own right hand hath planted, 
to make us high among the nations in praise, and in name, 

States census of 1850 showed, at that date, an annual expenditure of 
about $15,000,000 for newspapers and periodical literature, which, on a 
probable estimate, "would cover a surface of one hundred square miles, 
or constitute a belt of thirty feet around the earth, and weigh nearly 
70,000,000 pounds." There were, at the same date, 15,615 other than pri 
vate libraries, containing 4,636,411 volumes, much the larger portion of the 
above being in the northern states. ED. 
i See pp. xxxii., xxxiv., 43. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 439 

and in honor. The reasons are very numerous, weighty, 
and conclusive. 

In our civil constitutions, those impediments are re 
moved which obstruct the progress of society towards 
perfection, such, for instance, as respect the tenure of 
estates, and arbitrary government. The vassalage of 
dependent 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 Vol- 
kouskile, together with religious liberty, has allured and 
already drafted from Poland and Germany a coloniza 
tion of six hundred thousand souls in six years only, from 
1762 to 17G8. a 

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 effectu 
ally 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 proba 
ble that within a century from our independence the sun 
will shine on fifty millions of inhabitants in the United 

a Marshal s Travels. 



440 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

States. 1 This will be a great, a very great nation, nearly 
equal to half Europe. Already has our colonization ex 
tended down the Ohio, and to Koskaseah on the Missis 
sippi. And if the present ratio of increase should be 
rather diminished in some of the other settlements, yet 
an accelerated multiplication will attend our general prop 
agation, and overspread the whole territory westward for 
ages. So that before the millennium the English settle 
ments 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 has made, in num 
bers, and in praise, and in name, and in honor ! 

I am sensible some will consider these 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. 2 As visionary that the 
Ottoman Empire must fall by the Russian. As visionary 
to the Catholics is the certain downfall of the pontificate. 

1 As deduced, by method of finite differences, from the census returns of 
1830, 40, and 50, the population of the United States will be, in 1883, 
. 50,992,000; and, on an assumed equi-rational law of increase, according to 
the returns of 1820, 30, 40, and 50, it will then be 60,146,000. Mr. E. B. 
Elliott s MSS. Thus the official decennial enumerations more than justify 
the estimates made by Dr. Stiles from his comparatively crude data. Dr. 
Franklin made similar calculations. See Franklin s Works, edited by Jared 
Sparks, LL.D., ii., p. 319. There are now living some who will see the 
political centre of the Union near the Mississippi; and already the com 
merce of the great lakes exceeds the total foreign commerce of the United 
States. Sec Cooper s Cont. to Smithsonian Inst. 1858, paper on the region 
west of the Mississippi. ED. 

2 See p. 211, note 1. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 441 



As Utopian would it have been to the loyalists, at the 
battle of Lexington, that in less than eight years the inde 
pendence and sovereignty of the United 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 to 
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 miirht 

O O O 

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; 1 this 
was shed by Britons on the nineteenth of April, 1775, 
which instantly sprung an army of twenty thousand into 
spontaneous existence, with the enterprising and daring, if 
imprudent, resolution of entering Boston and forcibly dis 
burdening it of its bloody legions. Every patriot trembled 
till we had proved our armor, till it could be seen whether 
this hasty concourse was susceptible of exercitual arrange 
ment, and could face the enemy with firmness. They early 
gave us the decided proof of this in the memorable battle 
of Bunker Hill. a We were satisfied. This instantly con 
vinced us. and for the first time convinced Britons them 
selves, that Americans both would and could fight with 

a June 17, 1775. 

1 See pp. 235, 237. ED. 



442 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

great effect. AY hereupon 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, 1 when the ardor and spirit of military discipline was 
by Heaven, and without concert, sent through the conti 
nent 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 and daring by sea ; 
yet we immediately began a navy, and built ships of war 
with an unexampled expedition. It is presumed never 
was a thirty-five-gun ship before built quicker than that 
well-built, noble ship, the Raleigh? which was finished 
from the keel and equipped for sea in a few months. 
Soon had we got, though small, a very gallant initial navy, 



1 See pp. 193, 190, 214-220, 224, 251, 253, note. ED. 

2 " A fine twelve-pounder frigate," launched May 21, 1776, at Portsmouth, 
N. H. Her hull was completed in sixty days after her keel was laid. She 
was pierced for thirty-two guns. Nine weeks before the " Madison," of 
twenty-four guns, was launched at Sackett s Harbor, November 26, 1812, 
her timber was growing in the forest. ED, 






THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 443 

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 orna 
ment. 

A variety of success and defeat hath attended our war 
fare both by sea and land. In our lowest and most danger 
ous 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 twenty-two thousand seamen in above eighty 
British men-of-war.* These generals we sent home, 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, 

a 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. 



444 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 foun 
dation of the American Republic. This, with the Bur- 
goynade 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 at Princeton ? To whom but the Ruler of 
the winds shall we ascribe it that the British reinforce 
ment, 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 plot, 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 coun 
sels of a Washington and a Rochambeau in that grand 
effort of generalship with which they deceived and aston 
ished a Clinton, and eluded his vigilance, in the ir transit 
by New York and rapid marches for Virginia. Was it 
not of God that both the navy and army should enter the 
Chesapeake 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 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 445 

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 apostasies 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 
that men of every rank have so generally felt and spoken 
alike, as if the cords of life struck unison through the con. 
tinent ? What but a miracle has preserved the union of 
the States, the purity of Congress, and the unshaken pa 
triotism of every General Assembly? It is God, who has, 
raised up for us a great and powerful ally, x an ally which 
sent us a chosen army and a naval force ; who sent us a 
Rochambeau and a Chastelleux, 2 and other characters of 
the first military merit and eminence, to fight side by side 
with a Washington and a Lincoln, and the intrepid Amer 
icans, in the siege and battle of Yorktown. It is God 

1 The gratitude due to France for the services rendered to us in our Rev 
olution is considered in Letters iv. vii. of " Paciticus" Alexander Ham 
ilton on Washington s Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793. See also 
" Life and Works of John Adams," by Mr. Charles Francis Adams, index, 
Marbois, Vcrgcnnes. ED. 

2 The volume of Travels in North America, in 1780-1-2, by the Marquis 
de Chastelleux, is rich in observations on the men and things of that period. 
The English translation of 1787 was republished in New York in 1827, 

with spicy notes. For instance, Mr. John was " celebrated for 

duplicity on both sides of the water." ED. 

38 



446 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 spread terror through the oceans of the terraqueous 
globe, to behold the era when their forces should have 
arrived at 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 1 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-work 
ing providence of God in the events of this war. Let 
these serve as a specimen, and le ad us to hope that God 
will not forsake this people for whom he has done such 
marvellous 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 

1 See note 1 on p. 457, on the Armed Neutrality. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 447 

of the Magnolia Dei the great events in God s moral 
government designed from eternal ages to be displayed in 
these ends of the earth. 

And here I beg leave to congratulate my country upon 
the termination of this cruel and unnatural war, the cessa 
tion of hostilities, and the prospect of peace. May this 
great event excite and elevate our first, our highest ac 
knowledgments 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 hal 
lelujah, in one united cloud of incense, even the incense 
of universal joy and thanksgiving, to* God, from the col 
lective body of the United States. 

And while we render our supreme honors to the Most 
High, the God of armies, let us recollect with affec 
tionate honor the bold and brave sons of freedom who 
willingly offered themselves and bled in the defence of 
their country. Our fellow-citizens, the officers and sol 
diers of the patriot army, who, with the Manlys, 1 the 
Joneses, 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 

1 Captain John Manly, "Jack Manly/ of MarMchcad, Massachu 
setts, under a naval commission from Washington, October 24, 1775, 
hoisted the first American flag on board the schooner Lee. To him the 
first British flag was struck; and, on the 28th of November, 1775, he 
brought into Gloucester the first prize taken in behalf of the entire coun 
try, the English ship Nancy, from London for Boston, freighted with mili 
tary supplies, which were taken by land to Cambridge, to the joy of 
Washington, and which were of immense value to the besieging army at 
that moment of absolute want. This was one of the wonderful interposi 
tions in our favor so remarkable in our whole history. They christened one 
piece " The Congress." Captain Manly, eminent in naval annals, died in 
Boston, 1793, aged fifty-nine. Sabine s Fisheries of the American Seas, 
200, 203; Babson s History of Gloucester, 397. ED. 



448 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

triumphant country laurels, crowns, rewards, and the high 
est honors. Never was the profession of arms used with 
more glory, or in a better cause, since the days of Joshua 
the son of Nun. O Washington ! how do I love thy 
name ! How have I often adored and blessed thy God for 
creating and forming thee the great ornament of human 
kind ! Upheld and protected by the Omnipotent, by the 
Lord of hosts, thou hast been sustained and carried through 
one of the most arduous and most important wars in all 
history. The world and posterity will with admiration 
contemplate thy deliberate, cool, and stable judgment, thy 
virtues, thy valor, and heroic achievements, as far surpass 
ing 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 world 
of the beauty of virtue ; for in thee this beauty shines 
with distinguished lustre. Those who would not recog 
nize 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 
indeed 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 terminating in self, 

" Find virtue local, all relation scorn ; 
See all in self, and but for self be born." a 

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 

a Dunciad, b. 4, p. 480. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 449 

rewards of generalship, and heroically tookest upon thyself 
the dangerous as well as arduous office of our generalis 
simo, and this at a solemn moment, when thou didst delib 
erately cast the die for the dubious, the very dubious 
alternative of a gibbet or a triumphal arch. But, beloved, 
enshielded, and blessed by the great Melchisedec, the 
King of righteousness as well as peace, thou hast tri 
umphed gloriously. Such has been thy military wisdom 
in the struggles of this arduous conflict, such the noble 
rectitude, amiableness, and mansuetude 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 volley, stop the illiberality of their 
slander 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 gar 
dens of Persia. A Baron de Steuben l shall waft its fra 
grance to the monarch of Prussia ; a Marquis de Lafayette 
shall waft it to a far greater monarch, and diffuse thy 
renown throughout Europe ; a listening angels shall catch 
the odor, 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 

a 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 re 
spect 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. 

1 Counties and towns in New York, Indiana, and Ohio, perpetuate the 
name of this brave and noble-hearted general, a volunteer in the cause of 
freedom in America. He remained in this country, and died at Steuben- 
ville, New York, November 28, 1798, aired sixty-four. There is an admi 
rable outline of his life in Lossing s Field Book of the Revolution, ii., 342, 
and an adequate tribute to his worth and services may be found in his 
Life, by Friedrich Kapp, 1859, pp. 735. ED. 

38* 



450 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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, 
with the most sincere and earnest 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 con 
descend to permit him to express his most cordial congrat 
ulations, 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 retire from the fatigues of nine laborious cam- 

O 3 

paigns to the, tranquil enjoyment, to the sweetness and 
serenity of domestic life, may you never meet the fate of 
that ornament of arms and of humanity, the great Belisa- 
rius, 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 who m thou hast loved and adored, and of 
whose holy religion thou art not ashamed, thou shalt be 
translated from a 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 Lafayette, a Lincoln and a Chastelleux, a Gates and a 
Viomenil, a Putnam and a Duke de Lauzun, a Morgan, and 
other heroes, who rushed to arms and offered themselves 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 451 

voluntarily for the defence 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 honora 
ble 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 foiling 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. "O that my head 
were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears," that I mi^ht 
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 be 
moaning friends and relatives, and, perhaps, the espoused 
bosoms of the tender sex, can they, I say, ever forget 
the cruel mockings, scourgings, starvations, deaths, assas 
sinations of their dearest offspring and connections in 
British captivity? Can they forget the numerous thou 
sands of thoir 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 inquisi 
torial cruelties be soothed by alleging they are salutary 



452 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 unmer 
ciful ever to be forgotten. Can we forget the conflagra 
tions of Charlestown, Norfolk, Esopus, Fail-field, and other 
American towns, laid in ashes by a Tryon and other incen 
diaries? 1 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, O Britain, for the 
stain of your national glory ! Can we ever forget with 
what cruel and malicious delight they tortured, entowered, 
and insulted an American plenipotentiary, the illustri 
ous 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 Honorable 
Mr. Gadsden ? O Gadsden, 2 how I reverence thy piety, 
thy firmness in captivity, thine intrepid and uncorrupted 
patriotism, thine enlightened politics, thy unremitted fer 
vor and zeal in the cause of liberty ! But how painful is 
it to recount the even less than ten-thousandth part of the 
series of distresses, the complicated woe and misery, that 
make up the system of sufferings which we have been 
called to endure in the pangs and throes of the parturition 
of empire, in " effecting our glorious revolution, in rescu- 



1 " Twelve temples, or houses of public worship, were burnt and demol 
ished by the British, from Boston to Hudson s River, besides those burned 
beyond." Note to the second edition, 178-3. ED. 

2 For an account of the murder of Huddy by Tory refugees, of Lord 
Rawdon s infamy in the execution of Colonel Hayne, and of Governor 
Tiyon s cruelty to the venerable Gadsden, see Lossing s Field Book of the 
Revolution, ii., 360, 774, 708. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 453 

ing millions from the hand of oppression, and in laying 
the foundation of a great empire." a 

The patriot army merits our commemoration, and so do 
the great characters in the patriotic Assemblies and Con 
gress. 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 minis 
terial 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 Hon. Messrs. Wythe, Dyer, Sherman, Pen- 
dleton, Henry, Ellery, the Lees, President Huntington, 
Lynch, Witherspoon, Wolcott, Gov. Paca, Gov. Hall, Law, 
Marchant, President McKean, Ellsworth, Vandyke, Jeffer 
son Jefferson, who poured the soul of the continent into 
the monumental act of Independence. These, and other 
worthy personages of this and the 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 w r ho, 
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 des erved reputation and honor, through all American 

a General Washington s address to the army, in general orders, April 19, 1783, 
on the cessation of hostilities. 



454 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

ages ! a Those great civilians and ambassadors, the illustri 
ous 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 liber 
ties of the world itself. The spirited and successful stand 
w r hich we have made against tyranny will prove the salva 
tion 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 other nations the 
road to liberty, the way to a redress of grievances, by 



a JOHN HANCOCK. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton. 

MASSACHUSETTS BAY. Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, 
Elbridge Gerry. 

RHODE JRLAND. Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery. 

CONNECTICUT. Roger Sherman, Samuel Huutiugton, William Williams, 
Oliver Wolcott. 

NEW YORK. William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis 
Morris. 

NEW JERSEY. Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, 
John Hart, Abraham Clark. 

PENNSYLVANIA. Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John 
Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George 
Ross. 

DELAWARE. Caesar Rodney, George Read. 

MARYLAiND. Samuel Chace, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll 
(of Carrollton). 

VIRGINIA George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin 
Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxtgn. 

NORTH CAROLINA. William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn. 

SOUTH CAROLINA. Edward Kutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, 
Jr., Arthur Middleton. 

GEORGIA. Button Gwinnett, Lymau Hall, George Walton. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OP THE UNITED STATES. 455 

open, systematical measures, Committees of Correspond 
ence, 1 and military discipline of an armed people. Ireland 
has "become gloriously independent of England. 2 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 1707 has produced the loss and dismemberment 
of America. 3 It is just possible that within this age some 
ill-fated counsellor of another connection might have arisen 
and prompted Majesty and Parliament to sanguinary meas 
ures against America ; but it is more than probable that 
their enforcement would have been deferred, or procrasti 
nated a century hence, or to a period when our accumu 
lated population would have dictated wiser, milder meas 
ures to the British court; and so America, by a gentle, 
fraternal connection, would have remained cemented 4 to 



1 Sec pp. 44, 191, 199. ED. 

2 January 1, 1800, ended that independence, and was the dato of the 
legislative union between England and Ireland. ED. 

s The intensity of Dr. Stiles s detestation of the two Scotchmen, Bute 
and Murray, which led him to say that the " union" of Scotland and Eng 
land in 1707 " has produced the loss and dismemberment of America," 
probably because, by that union, the Scotch statesmen, hated for their 
arbitrary principles, were eligible to the English councils, affords an 
amusing parallel to Dr. Johnson s inveterate prejudice against the Scotch. 
In his dictionary the Doctor defines oats as " a grain which in England is 
generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." Bute 
was believed to be, by his personal influence, the evil genius of George III. 
and of England, and was profoundly hated there as well as in America; 
and the jurist Murray Lord Mansfield upheld the worst measures 
against America. Yet both were exemplary in private life. See pp. 09, 70, 
80, 102, 108, 301, 343. ED. 

4 The pathos with which Dr. Stiles speaks of " the painful and distress 
ing separation and dismemberment" from the mother country, and his 
vehement denunciation of the " demon" Bute, do not exaggerate the 
loyal temper of our fathers. They would have then been content with 



456 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

Britain for distant ages. But a Rehoboam counsellor 
stepped in, et actum est de republica the Ten Tribes are 
lost. 1 Had it not been for the insidious and haughty 
counsels of a Bute and a Mansfield, imbued with principles 
incompatible with liberty, with the unwieldy 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 counsels and dominion, 
as well as with their own curtailed and unequal weight 
in Parliament, Scotland, emulous of the glory of Ireland, 

half the rights which the present British American Provinces enjoy. But 
the blindness of Governor Hutchinson to the character of his countrymen, 
and the consequent false impressions he gave to the British cabinet, the 
miserable weakness of Gage and Howe at Boston, and the madness of the 
king in forcing the colonies to union, show the providential government 
of God, and that his time for this great epoch in the history of human 
society was now come. ED. 

1 To the second edition, 178-3, the author here made this prophetic note: 
" And very soon will Bengal and the East Indies be lost and delivered 
from the cruelty and injustice of British government there. This will 
speedily be the fruit of Great Britain s departing from the commercial to 
the governmental idea concerning the East. The conflagrating and plun 
dering qualities of a Clive, and the absurd haughtiness of the subsequent 
dominion, will at length rouse the spirit of those populous parts of the 
oriental empires, having learned the use of artillery and the European 
modes of war, to make one vigorous exertion and shake off this foreign 
yoke. It is not within the compass of human probability it is absurd 
and absolutely impossible that fifteen millions of people should long 
continue subjugated to the government of five or six million at the dis 
tance of half the circumference of the globe. This event may be acceler 
ated by the necessary tripartite division of the navy in the oriental and 
Atlantic oceans. The union of European nations cannot fail of taking 
advantage of the future comparative weakness of British strength arising 
from this division. Too soon, alas! may Britain, with both wings lopped 
off, the East Indies and America, exhibit the spectacle among nations 
described by the Franklinean emblem of Magna Britannia with her colo 
nies reduced. One cannot refrain from tears at contemplating the fate of 
nations, the rise and fall of empires." ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 457 

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 of the mare liberum and 
the mare dausum, 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 \\\vjus 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 terraqueous globe. All the European pow 
ers 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 

O 

America. Interest will establish a free access of all na 
tions to our shores, and for us to all nations. The armed 
neutrality 1 will disarm even war itself of hostilities against 

i The authorship of this confederacy, which destroyed Britain s long- 
established sovereignty of the ocean, and greatly contributed to the ulti 
mate independence of the United States of America, is attributed to 
several persons. 1. Mr. William Lee, of Virginia, a merchant in London, 
and some time agent of Congress at Vienna and Berlin during the Avar of 
the Revolution, wrote, December 10, 1780, to Governor Lee, of Maryland: 
"I feel no little pleasure in communicating to you the completion, so far, 
of this confederacy, as the first traces were laid by myself two years ago; and 
if Congress had now in Europe ministers properly authorized to negotiate 
with the powers it would not be difficult to obtain a general acknowledg 
ment from them of the independence of America, which was my ultimate 
object in foruriny tl\c. outlines of this scheme! " See letter in National Intelli 
gencer, August 23, 18-39. 2. Mr. John Adams diary, December 21, 1782 
heard the King of Sweden named as "the first inventor and suggester 

39 



458 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 commer 
cial intercourse of subjects. The want of anything to take 
will prove a natural abolition of privateering, when the 
property shall be covered \vith neutral protection. Even 
the navies will, within a century, become useless. A gen 
erous and truly liberal system of national connection, in 
the spirit of the plan conceived and nearly executed by 
the great Henry IV. of France, a will almost annihilate 
war itself. 

We shall have a communication with all nations in 

a Sully s Memoirs. 1 

of the plan." 3. On the evidence of " documents in my possession," says 
Mr. George Sumner, in his oration, Boston, July 4th, 18-39, " I here render 
the honor" of the real authorship of the armed neutrality to Florida 
Banca, the minister of Spain. The official documents are in Anderson s 
Commerce, vi. 302-37-5, 406, edit. 1790. The universal terror from British 
privateers was the proximate cause of the league, and England s distress 
the opportunity. ED. 

1 Bohn s ed. of Sully, 18-50, ii. p. 235; iv., Book xxx. This political 
scheme for a general council of the Christian powers of Europe was 
formed by Elizabeth of England and Henry IV. of France. The Edict of 
Nantes was intended as a part of the grand design. A senate, of about 
sixty-six commissioners, or plenipotentiaries, to be rcchosen every three 
years, from all the governments of the Christian republic, was to be in 
permanent se ssion, " to deliberate on any affairs which might occur, to 
discuss the different interests, pacify the quarrels, clear up and determine 
all the civil, political, and religious affairs of Europe, whether within itself 
or with its neighbors." The scheme bore a strong resemblance to the 
American " confederation," and was formed in part on the model of the 
ancient Amphictyons of Greece, an institution referred to by the framers 
of our own government. See the " Federalist." The total exemption of 
private property from capture on the high seas, as recently proposed by 
the United States government to European powers, would go far to realize 
the splendid prediction of the text, and, indeed, render " the navies 
useless," except for the noble missions of humanity, of science, and of 
national courtesies. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 459 

commerce, manners, and science, beyond anything hereto 
fore 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 genera 
tions. 1 This fermentation and communion of nations will 
doubtless produce something very new, singular, and glo 
rious. Upon the conquest of Alexander the Great, statu 
ary, 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 



i Dr. Cotton Mather says that in 1696, in all New England, there were 
one hundred thousand souls. Dr. Franklin thought that, of the one 
million English souls in North America in 1751, not eighty thousand 
"had been brought oversea." Dr. Stiles, in 1760, estimated the inhabi 
tants of New England at half a million; and Mr. Savage, in the Preface 
of his Genealogical Dictionary, supposes that nineteen-twenticths of the 
people of the New England colonies in 1775 were descendants of those 
here in 1692, and that probably seven-eighths of them were offspring of 
the first settlers, and originating from England proper. lie adds: "A 
more homogeneous stock cannot be seen, I think, in any so extensive 
region, at any time since that when the Ark of Noah discharged its pas 
sengers on Mount Ararat, except in the few centuries elapsing before the 
confusion of Babel." In an elaborate paper read before the American 
Statistical Association, in March, 1859, by the President, Edward Jarvis, 
M. D., it appears, as the result of long and minute calculation, based upon 
the best available data, that the total persons of New England origin 
living in the "United States, in 1850, including the natives and those born 
abroad since 1790, was 4,021,192, and that nearly or quite one-third of 
the native white population have New England blood in their veins. This 
confirms Mr. Bancroft s estimate. ED. 



460 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

Grecian style, than in the ruins of Baalbec and Palmyra. 
So all the arts may be transplanted from Europe and Asia, 
and flourish in America with an augmented lustre, not to 
mention the augment of the sciences from American in 
ventions and discoveries, of which there have been as 
capital ones here, a the last half century, as in all Europe. 2 



a AMERICAN INVENTIONS. 1730, Reflecting Quadrant [commonly called 
Hadley s], by Mr. Thos. Godfry, at Philadelphia; 1731, Mercurial Inoculation, 
by Dr. Muin<on; 1750, Electrical Pointed Rods, by Dr. Franklin; [1755, Terres 
trial Comets, by President Clap;] 1762, Sand-Iron, by Dr. .Tared Elliot; 1769, 
Quantity of Matter in Comets, by Professor Winthrop; [1776, Submarine Navi 
gation by the power of the Screw, by Mr. Bushuel.] 1 

1 The parts within [ ] were added in the second edition, 1785. ED. 

2 "Credat qui vult!" exclaimed a listener, when, with his masterly 
survey of the elements of empire and their potential future, the wise man 
in the pulpit opened his grand and comprehensive vision of " The United 
States elevated to Glory and Honor," and of the national mission of good 
will to men; yet some, even of that generation, live to contrast the epoch 
of the nation s beginning its three millions of inhabitants, scattered 
along the Atlantic border with our present recognized position as " the 
greatest maritime nation on the face of the earth." The country was for 
many years embarrassed with the war debt, less in amount than our 
present annual national expenditure. Populous inland states, cities, and 
commerce, before whose statistics the national figures of 1783 dwindle to 
fractions, now press fast towards the Pacific, through whose "golden 
gate" floats a commerce exceeding the grand total when Washington 
became President, and whose senators are in the capitol. 

" Westward the course of empire takes its way." 

Indeed, there were then living, sons of America, Fitch, in manhood, and 
Fulton, in youth, the inventors of steam navigation, whose genius was to 
span oceans, and unite continents as with a bridge, and make highways of 
rivers; and now Ericsson has revolutionized the marine of the world. 
Whitney, then a youth, was to create, by his cotton-gin, the chief staple of 
southern agriculture, and the principal even of England s manufactures; 
Bowditch, then in boyhood, was to rank with the great mathematicians 
and astronomers. The elder Edwards, the intellectual chief of his age, who 
"ranks with the brightest luminaries of the Christian church, not excluding 
any country or any age since the apostolic," and " as much the boast of 
America as his great countryman, Franklin; " Webster, the great lexicog- 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 461 

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 lan 
guage on earth. It may continue forages to be the pre 
vailing and general language of North America. 1 The 

rapher, who has no rival but Worcester, another of New England s sons ; 
Irving, then in. arms, preeminent in modern literature; and, in later times, 
Allibone, of equal rank in critical bibliography; Prescott, Spark?, Bancroft, 
Hildreth, Motley, in histgry ; Bryant, Whittier, and Longfellow, in poetry; 
Copley, West, Stuart, Trumbull, Allston, Cole, Church, and Hosmer, among 
the masters in modern art; Mann and Barnard, in education; Lynclhurst, 
twice Lord Chancellor of England, Marshall, Jay, Parsons, Story, and 
Kent, in jurisprudence; Morse and Jackson, whose electric wire, "beat 
ing with the pulse of humanity," unites cities, kingdoms, and continents, 
annihilating time and space; Jackson, Wells, Morton, whose splendid 
discovery of anaesthetics is recognized by the world as one of the greatest 
boons given by any age to suffering humanity ; Agassiz, the chief natu 
ralist of the age, abiding with us; Draper, the accomplished delegate of 
American science at the British Association at Oxford; and Jarvis, the 
eminent statistician, representing his country with distinguished honor in 
the International Statistical Congress at London in 1800; these, and many 
others, have already placed the United States in the front rank in science, 
letters, and art. ED. 

1 The reader will be glad to compare the profound views presented by 
Dr. Stiles with the observations of a late able writer, who thinks that 
" the physical character of our own territory is such as to encourage the 
hope that our speech, which, if not absolutely homogeneous, is now em 
ployed by twenty -five millions of men in one unbroken mass, with a uni 
formity of which there is perhaps no other example, will escape that 
division which has shattered some languages of the Old World into frag 
ments, like those of the confusion of Babel. The geography of the United 
States presents few localities suited to human habitation that are at the 
same time inaccessible to modern improved modes of communication. 
The carriage-road, the railway, the telegraph, the mails, the newspaper, 
penetrate to every secluded nook, address themselves to every free in 
habitant, and speak everywhere one and the same dialect. Why or how 
external physical causes, as climate and modes of life, should affect 
pronunciation, we cannot say; but it is evident that material influences 
of some sort are producing a change on our bodily constitution, and 

39* 



462 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

intercommunion of the United States with nil the world 
in travels, trade, and politics, and the infusion of letters 
into our infancy, will probably preserve us from the pro 
vincial dialects, risen into inexterminable habit before the 
invention of printing. The Greek never became the lan 
guage of the Alexandrian, nor the Turkish of the Otto 
man conquests, nor yet the Latin of the Roman Em 
pire. The Saracenic conquests have already lost the pure 
and elegant Arabic of the Koreish tribe, or the family of 
Ishmacl, in the corrupted dialects of Egypt, Syria, Persia, 
and Inclostan. Different from these, tlie English language 
will grow up with the present American population into 
great purity and elegance, un mutilated by the foreign dia 
lects 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. 1 

we are just acquiring a distinct national character. That the delicate 
organs of articulation should participate in such tendencies is alto 
gether natural; and the operation of the causes which gave rise to 
them is palpable even in our handwriting, which, if not uniform with 
itself, is generally, nevertheless, so much unlike common English script 
as to be readily distinguished from it." Geo. P. Marsh, Lecture xxx., 
The English Language in America. ED. 

1 The following decided language from one of our most distinguished 
scholars and philologists embodies, it may be presumed, the opinion of 
the great body of competent Greek and Hebrew scholars, and would 
probably be affirmed by the American and British Bible Societies as the 
result of their observation. The revision of 1611 is, and seems likely to 
remain, in its strength and beauty, the standard. " I do not hesitate," 
says Mr. Marsh, "to avow my conviction, that if any body of scholars of 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 463 

Nor do I believe a better is ever to be expected in this 
imperfect state. It sustained a revision of numerous 
translators, from Tyndal to the last review by the bishops 
and other learned divines in the time of James I., one 
hundred and eighty years ago, and lias never been altered 
since. a 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 Can 
ton, 1 on the Indus and Ganges, on the Whang-ho and the 

a Vid. Lewis s Hist. Transl. Bib. 

competent Greek and Hebrew learning were now (I860) to undertake, not 
a revision of the existing version, but a new translation, founded on the 
principle of employing the correct phraseology of the day, it would be 
found much less intelligible to the mass of English-speaking people than 
the standard version at this moment is;" and that to " hope of finding 
within the compass of the English language a clearer, a more appropri 
ate, or a more forcible diction than that of the standard version, is to be 
tray an ignorance of the capabilities of our native speech with which it 
would be in vain to reason; " and " that as there is no present necessity 
for a revision, so is there no possibility of executing a revision in any 
way that would be, or ought to be, satisfactory to even one Protestant 
sect, still less to the whole body of English-speaking Protestants." Lec 
tures on the English Language, Lecture xxviii., by Gco. P. Marsh. ED. 
1 To the second edition, 1785, the author added this note : " Since the 
first edition, in 1783, this voyage has been happily performed, for the first 
time, in about fourteen months, by the Empress of China, a ship of three 
hundred and sixty tons, John Green, Esq., of Boston, commander. She 
sailed from New York Feb. 22, 1784, arrived at Canton, in China, Aug. 30, 
departed thence Dec. 27, on her return, and arrived safe at New York, May 
11, 1785, with the loss of but one man in the whole voyage. And Aug. 9, 



464 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

Yang-tsc-kiang, and with commerce will import the wis 
dom arid literature of the East. That prophecy of Daniel 
is now literally fulfilling r^nn na^ni o^an siaatai there 
shall be a universal travelling to and fro, and knowl 
edge shall be increased. This knowledge will be brought 
home and treasured up in America, and, being here di 
gested and carried to the highest perfection, may reblaze 
back from America to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and illu 
mine the world w r ith truth and liberty. 

That great civilian Dr. John Adams, the learned and 
illustrious American ambassador, observes thus: a "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 Ger 
many is adopting, as fast as he can, American ideas of 
toleration and religious liberty; and it will become the 
fashionable system of Europe very soon. 1 Light spreads 

a Lett. Dec. 18, 1781. 

1785, the ship Pallas, Capt. John O Donnel, arrived at Baltimore from 
China. She left Macao, in Canton, the 20th of January preceding. This 
was the second East India ship from China to America. The same month 
of Aug., 1785, a Swedish ship arrived also at Baltimore from Calcutta, in 
the East Indies. This is the third East India ship which arrived in Amer 
ica in the year 1785." ED. 

1 Maria Theresa of Austria thought the cause of George III., against the 
colonies, to be " the cause of all sovereigns," and had " a high esteem for 
his Majesty s principles of government." She died November 29, 1780, 
and was succeeded by her son, Joseph II., then in his fortieth year. He 
used his despotic power with a wisdorn and singularity that startled Eu 
rope. He ordered a new translation of the Bible to be made in the Ger 
man tongue, established a free press, the equality of all Christian denom 
inations, abolished the priestly censorship of books, which had been so 
rigorous " that on subjects of religion, morality, and government, a valu 
able and a prohibited publication were almost synonymous terms," 
founded public libraries, established educational institutions, abolished 
feudal slavery, and labored to educate and elevate his people. So precip 
itate and radical were his innovations, so fatal were they to superstition 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 465 

from the day-spring 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 reexist, 

and mental and moral darkness, that Pius VI., old and feeble, made a 
Avinter journey, in February, 1782, to Vienna, to remonstrate against them, 
but in vain. At the accession of Joseph II. the United States government 
was seeking European alliances. Their history and principles became 
familiar to the statesmen and leading minds of Europe. Our minister, 
John Adams, published at Leydcn, in April, 1781, his eloquent " Memo 
rial " of their claim to respect and consideration, and in February, 1782, 
he wrote to his government that it had been translated and " inserted in 
almost every gazette in Europe; " that the King of Sweden had quoted 
its "very words" in his public answer and reproach to George III.; that 
Joseph II. had desired an interview with its author, and, " what is more 
remarkable, has adopted the sentiment of it concerning religious liberty 
into a code of laws for his dominions, the greatest effort in favor of 
humanity, next to the American Revolution, which has been produced in 
the eighteenth century." 

The Revolution raised Ireland to the position of a kingdom, and the 
contagion of its republican principles was felt throughout Europe. The 
French nobles, Lafayette, Rochambeau, D Estaing, Lausun, and others, 
conveyed to their own country the popular sympathies and principles for 
which they had fought in America, and thus gave an impulse to the Rev 
olution in France. 

Historians and philosophers regard the American Revolution as the 
great epoch in the modern history of human society of the world; as 
"commencing a new series of human history, a new system of political 
relations, which must involve in its combinations all the countries of the 
earth." 

Washington stands out to the world as the grandest object of contem 
plation, the Father of the Republic to which is confided the great problem 
of popular government, of the broadest Christian freedom, and towards 
which the genius of liberty ever looks with hope, yet with solicitude; for 
Avhose prosperity the nations pray, as for one whose calamity will be the 
despair of humanity, and the triumph only of him who would destroy the 
image of God in man. How exalted the trust, how momentous the con 
duct of the American citizen! Coxe s "House of Austria," Bonn s ed., 
chap, cxxiv.; "Life and Works of John Adams," 18-32, vii., 404, 525, 
527; Miller s Philosophy of History, ed. 1854, 145-147, 178, 181, 185, 186. 

ED. 



466 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

and resume their ancient splendor, authority, and control 
of royalty. The same principles of wisdom and enlight 
ened 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 are increasing among the nations. The reformed 
in France, who were formerly oppressed with heavy per 
secution, at present enjoy a good degree of religious lib 
erty, though by silent indulgence only. A reestablishment 
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. 5 The Inquisition 



a So jealous were the Cortes of their liberties, that the states of Arragon in 
particular, after sundry previous stipulations, exacted a coronation oath of the 
king, which was pronounced by the Justitia Arragonensis (who represented the 
person of the supreme power in the state), a power which they asserted to be 
superior to kings, in these words: Nos qui valemos tanto comme vos, y podemos 
mas que vos, vos elegimos Key : con estas y estas conditiones, intra vos y nos, un 
que manda mas que vos. " We who are as powerful as you, and have more au 
thority than you, elect you king; with the stipulated conditions, between you 
and us there is one (viz., the judiciary) higher in command than you." See a 
learned tract, De jure magistratuum in subdito et officio subditorum erga magis- 
tratus: printed at Lyons, 1576, full of jural and political erudition, and, for that 
age, full of liberty. 

b The order of Jesuits, suppressed in rapid succession by the European princes, 
1765, was finally abolished, 1773, by the sensible and sagacious Ganganelli, who 
bid fairer to reunite the Protestants, had it been possible, than any pontiff since 
the secession from Leo X. Nor can the order be revived, nor the suppression of 
religious houses in Spain and Austria, nor Austrian liberty, be prevented by the 
bigoted, austere Braschi, the present reigning pontiff.l 

i July 21-23, 1773, Ganganelli, Clement XIV., "established by the Di 
vine Providence, over kingdoms and nations, in order to pluck up, destroy, 
disperse, dissipate, plant, or nourish, as may best conduce to the right 
cultivation of the" papal hierarchy, in his bull of that date, said : "After 
a mature deliberation, we do, out of our certain knowledge, and the ful- 
ness of our apostolical power, suppress and abolish the said company, . . . 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 467 

has been, in effect, this year suppressed in Spain, where 
the king, by an edict of 3d of November, 1782, proclaimed 
liberty for inhabitants of all religions ; and, by a happily 
conceived plan for literary reformation, the aurora of sci 
ence will speedily blaze into meridian splendor in that 
kingdom. An emulation for liberty and science is enkin 
dled among the nations, and will doubtless produce some 
thing very liberal and glorious in this age of science, this 
period of the empire of reason. 1 

The United States will embosom all the religious sects 

O 

or denominations in Christendom. Here they may all 
enjoy their whole respective systems of worship and church 
government complete. Of these, next to the Presbyteri 
ans, 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 

so that the name of the company shall be, and is, forever extinguished 
and suppressed. . . . These our letters shall be forever and to all eter 
nity valid, permanent, and efficacious, . . . observed by all and every 
whom they do or may concern, now or hereafter, in any manner what 
ever." The reason given was that the Jesuits were an intolerable political 
and moral curse. They had six hundred and sixty-nine colleges, one hun 
dred and ninety-six seminaries, two hundred and twenty-three missions, 
twenty-two thousand seven hundred and eighty-two members, scattered 
over the world. August 17, 1814, another infallible Pope, Pius VII., abro 
gated the brief of his infallible predecessor, and reestablished the order 
for political purposes ; and it now infests our own country. The " fathers," 
leagued with the Pope s " venerable brothers, the archbishops, bishops," 
priests, etc., and " liberal Protestants" ! aid and comfort these priestly 
enemies to civil and religious liberty by money, pupils, and approbation. 
The policy of the Papal church is to keep the people in perpetual infancy, 
the sole basis of its own existence, and of despotism, its natural result 
and ally. See p. 416. ED. 

1 1n the second edition, 1785, the author appends this note: " Justly may 
we anticipate great alterations in society, and very beneficent improve 
ments in the state of mankind, from the progressive refinement of man 
ners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, the PURE AND 
BENIGN LIGHT OF REVELATION. General Washiivton." ED. 



468 



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 dia 
spora 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 pres 
ent, 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 two thousand ancient Bohemian churches, 
they seldom had above two or three bishops. The Bap 
tists, 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 Westleians, 
Mennonists, and others, all which make a very inconsider 
able amount 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 an 
other, as much as the Greek and Armenian patriarchates 
in the East ; and having, on account of religion, no supe 
riority as to secular powers and civil immunities, they will 
cohabit together in harmony, and, I hope, with a most 
generous Catholicism and benevolence. 1 The example of 

1 Of the seven or eight denominations named by Dr. Stiles, some hardly 
survive, while others, as the Methodist and Baptist, have become numerous. 
Twenty-one religious denominations are enumerated in the census of the 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 469 

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 
xlix. 22, 26 : " Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful 
bough by a well ; whose branches run over the wall. The 
archers have sorely grieved him, and shpt at him, and 
hated him. But his bow abode in strength ; the arms of 
his hands were made strong by the arms of the mighty 
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." 

Little would civilians have thought ages ago that the 
world should ever look to America for models of govern- 



Unitcd States for 18-10, of which, counting the Methodist, Baptist, Pres 
byterian, Congregational, and Dutch Reformed, who arc named in the 
order of their numerical ratio, as of the Congregational type, there were 
29,607 churches; and of all others, including Episcopal, Roman Catholic, 
Christian, and Friends, 8015 churches, an aggregate of 37,052 churches, 
showing the ratio of the former to the whole as about 4 to 5. The 
total of church accommodations was 14,270,139, of which 10,00 1,050 were of 
the Congregational type as above, and 3,005,483 of the others, showing 
the ratio of the former to the whole as about 3 to 4, or 74.0 per cent, of 
the whole. The Methodists had 13,338 churches; Baptists, 9300; Congre- 
gationalists, 1700; Episcopalians, 1401 ; Roman Catholics, 1227; Lutherans, 
1221. They are unequally distributed over the Union, and the relation 
of denominational to moral, educational, and social statistics offers a 
most inviting and instructive inquiry. ED. 

40 



470 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMOtf, 1783. 

ment 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 de 
spised civil polity of Connecticut, 1 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 the Atlantic, 
they may also find the true religion here depurated from 
the rust and corruption of ages, and learn from us to re 
form 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 unfet 
tered 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 cardinal s 
inquisitors-general, to bend the human mind, forcibly 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. Religion may here receive its last, most liberal, 
and impartial examination. Religious liberty is peculiarly 

i " In a Conspectus of a Perfect Polity/ the author has given the out 
lines of the constitution of a commonwealth, agreeing, in its great princi 
ples, with those of the constitution of the United States and of the indi 
vidual states. But he maintained that a Christian state ought expressly 
to acknowledge and embosom in its civil constitution the public avowal of 
the being of a God, and the avowal of Christianity. " Kingsley s 
Life of Stiles. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 471 

friendly to fair and generous disquisition. Here Deism 
will have its full chance ; nor need libertines more to 
complain of being overcome by any weapons but the gen 
tle, 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 
futurition is certain from prophecy, the annihilation of 
the pontificate, 1 the reassembling of the Jews, and the ful 
ness 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 unper- 
ceived, 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 Christen 
dom now larger than it was nine centuries ago. The 
promising prospects of the Propaganda fide at Rome 2 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 contra- 

1 By the conquest of Canada in 1759-60, God then and there ordained 
that America should be a free, and, to this end, a Protestant, nation. It 
would be a notable, a practical celebration of this era of American liberty 
if the final conflict of the same ^reat principles should distinguish the 
years 1859-60 in the Old World s progress. Centuries mark the onward 
life of nations. ED. 

^ See p. 466, notes b and 1. ED. 



472 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

dieting missionaries, all will harmoniously concur in speak 
ing one language, one holy faith, one apostolic religion, to 
an uncontroverted world. At this period, and in effect 
ing this great event, we have reason to think that the 
United States may be of no small influence and consid 
eration. 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," a should "flee into the wilderness, where she 
hath a place prepared of God," b 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 
greater 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 country increased 
to forty or fifty millions, 1 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 two of them ; or, to say the least, to be of such mag 
nitude 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 Sisyphean labor. There 
is the greatest prospect that we shall become thirty out of 
forty millions. 2 And while the avenues to civil improve- 

a Not to say Thirteen. b Rev. xii. 1. 

1 See p. 440, note 1. ED. 2 Sec p. 408, note 1. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 473 

ment and public honors will here be equally open to all 
sects, so it will be no dishonor hereafter to be a Presbyte 
rian, or of the religious denomination which will probably 
ever make the most distinguished figure in this great re 
public. 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, de 
ficient morals, and incidental errors, yet the collective sys 
tem 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, and confusion. a 

a Peters s History of Connecticut.l 

1 This celebrated work, by the famous Rev. S. A. Peters, LL.D., contains 
curious observations on the wonders of nature, art, and " fanaticism," in 
New England, the truth of which could be established only by the au 
thor s high reputation for veracity and godly simplicity. He describes a 
" chasm" in the Connecticut River, where " water is consolidated, with 
out frost, by pressure, by swiftness, between the pinching, sturdy rocks, 
to such a degree of induration that no iron crow can be forced into it; ... 
steady as time, and harder than marble, the stream passes irresistible, if 
not swift as lightning; one of the greatest pLanomcnons in nature. . . No 
living creature was ever known to pass through this narrow, except an 

Indian woman How feeble is man, and how great that Almighty 

who formed the .... irresistible power and strength of waters ! " In 
Windham the frogs "filled a road forty yards wide, for four miles in 
length, and were for several hours passing through the town, unusually 
clamorous The event was fatal to several women. ... I verily be 
lieve," Mr. Peters says, " an army under the Duke of Marlborough would, 
under like circumstances, have acted no better than they did." He is 
hopeless, "for the Church of England has lost the opportunity of civiliz 
ing, christianizing, and moderating the burning zeal of the dissenters in 
New England, who were honest in their religion, merely by the sinful 

40* 



474 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

They Lave 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 offences unavoidable, for imperfections and 
controversies incident to the churches in their most 
regular state, our churches are as completely reformed, 
and as well modelled according to the Scripture plan, as 
can be expected till the millennium. Particularly these 
essential things may be found among them upon examina 
tion : 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 

omission of not sending a bishop to that country, who would have ef 
fected greater things among them than an army of fifty thousand men." 
But the nowjnild and desponding Peters was, in 1774, a terrible son of 
Mars, a bloody-minded leader of the " Church of England " militant, re 
joicing in the prospect of " hanging work " among the uncivilized "dis 
senters." See his letter on page 195 of this volume. In the second edition 
of his " History," " printed for the author," London, 1782, Mr. Peters 
confidingly says: "Whatever other historical requisite it may want, it 
must, I think, be allowed to possess originality and truth." Its claim to 
originality has never been questioned, and the work has placed the learned 
and reverend author among the celebrities of the " Church of England " 
of that period. He heartily detested "preaching." 

Mr. Kingsley says that " on examining the more prominent statements 
of Peters, not one has been found which is not either false, or so deformed 
by exaggerations and perversions as to be essentially erroneous. To 
prove a truth upon the leading portions of his history would be, it is be 
lieved, an impossible task." Hist. Disc, at New Haven, 1838, 83-90. 
The Rev. Dr. Bacon calls it " that most unscrupulous and malicious of 
lying narratives." ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 475 

Jesus Christ. We have no classical or synodical tribunals, 
yet we have ecclesiastical councils ; and our church dis 
cipline, 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 amend 
ment 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 judi- 
catories 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 one hundred and fifty churches of the apostolic age, a 
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 ad 
ministrations. 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 theo 
logical 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 ordina- 

a It has been computed that the churches of the apostolic age did not exceed 
one hundred and tii ty or two hundred congregations in the whole world. 



476 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON. 1783. 

tion the lesser act ; but their great reason was, 1 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 tribunal. 
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. 2 These few created an early diffi 
culty, 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 the lay brethren ; and this was, from the begin 
ning, improperly called ordination, how often soever re 
peated. 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, 1630, by 
Governor Winthrop and others, he was ordained teacher 
in Boston ; he then ordained an elder ; and upon the ac 
cession of Mr. Cotton, 1633, he was, by this elder and 
Governor Winthrop, again, a third time, ordained, and con 
stituted 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, 1688, was again 
ordained pastor of the first church in Boston by Elder Penn. 
Mr. Hooker was ordained a presbyter by a bishop in Eng- 

1 Sec pp. x.-xv. ED. 

2 On the subject of ecclesiastical polity, see the admirable " Vindication 
of the Government of the New England Churches/ by John Wise, A.M., 
fourth edition, Boston, 1860, published by the Congregational Board, with 
Rev. Dr. Clark s " Historical Introductory Note/ ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 477 

land, and then again by the brethren at Newtown, 1633, 
who removed with his church to Hartford. Mr. Bulkley, 
of Concord, and Mr. Noyes, of Newbury, and others, ex 
pressly adhered to their former ordinations in England 
by the bishops, though not as bishops, but as presbyters. 1 
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 instalment 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 cen 
tury (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 trans 
action. This was at Woburn, 1642. I believe there were 
two or three more similar ordinations of unordained candi 
dates 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. 2 

Immediately upon publishing the Cambridge platform, 
1648, our brethren in England remonstrated against allow- 

1 In a long note, " Winthrop s entries in a manuscript diary," August 27, 
October 25, 1030, November 22, 1632, October 10, 11, 1033, " 2m. 6d. 1637," 
April 24, 1639, are quoted to "evince that the ministers relied upon their 
ordinations in England." As the diary is now in print (see p. 491, note 2) 
the note is not reprinted. ED. 

2 An elaborate and valuable series of papers on the Ecclesiastical Anti 
quities of New England was published by the Rev. Samuel Sewall in the 
American Quarterly Register, 1838-1842. ED. 



478 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

ing 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,* 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 ordi 
nations 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, con 
tinued 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 l but whose ordina 
tion 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. 

a 1 Tim. iv. 14. 

i The author, in the second edition, 1785, adds a note, " The Ordination 
among the Separates began this year." ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 479 

And as to the wild and enthusiastic period between 1740 
and 1750, though it gave birth to perhaps thirty little Sepa 
rate 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. 1 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 Sepa 
rates 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 ordina 
tion I have traced to the Mathers and other Boston minis 
ters, 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 seek 
ing ordinations among the pastors of the standing churches 
where the ordinations are indubitable. 

For, as I have said, the ordination of our clergy is regu 
lar and scriptural, and may be traced in the line of pres 
byters 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 pre 
served the sacerdotal or presbyterian order in the church, 
that the succession in this line is without a doubt. The 



i Prince s "Christian History," Gillie s " Historical Collections," Tracy s 
"History of the Great Awakening," Dr. Clark s " History of the Congre 
gational Churches in Massachusetts," chap, xiii., are among the many 
works on that memorable period. See article Whiteficld, George, in Allen s 
Biographical Dictionary. ED. 



480 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

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 1 in 
the English universities, and were ordained in England ; 
some of whom as Hooker, Davenport, Chauncy, Lee, 
Bulkley, ISToyes, 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, Chauncy and Lee. Of these ninety-four, 
one or two only were ordained by the Puritans, as the 
fourteen 2 who came over after the ejection of 1662 were 
ordained by the bishops, or more probably by the Presby 
terians in the protectorate : all the rest by the bishops. 
All these were ordained presbyters by the bishops in Eng 
land ; particularly the Rev. Mr. Richard Mather was or 
dained a presbyter by Dr. Morton, Bishop of Chester, 1618. a 
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 pres 
bytery; which demonstrates that presbyters, as such, were 
endued with the power of ordination. b 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 

a Life of Dr. Increase Mather. b 1 Tim. iv. 14. 

1 See pp. xiii.-xv. ED. 

2 Their names arc given in Mather s "Magnalia," Book III. fol. 4. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 481 

through Rome, for Bishop Jewel asserts truly that the 
ancient churches of England were of Greek, that, is orien 
tal, derivation. We have in this manner a historical evi 
dence 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 ex 
amined 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 presby 
ters, as w r ell as of the other elders, was preserved by ordi 
nations 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 three 
hundred 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 follow 
ing extract, viz. : 

" The ninth year of Claudius Csesar, 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 (Cashisha a ) 
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 

a The title Cashies is given to the Coptic clergy to this day. 

41 



482 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

eleven should impose their hands, bless him, and create him patri 
arch ; 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 num 
ber 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 farther 
decreed that, on a vacancy in the patriarchate, they should elect, 
either from the twelve presbyters, or from any other country, some 
iminent person, and create him patriarch. And thus evanished the 
ancient institution by which the patriarch had been created by 
the presbyters, and there succeeded in its place his decree con 
cerning 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 
Alexandrian patriarch who made bishops. Upon the death of Deme 
trius, Heraclas became patriarch, and constituted twenty bishops." a 

Thus, in this most valuable piece or relic of ecclesiasti 
cal 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 Cashisha, 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 nu 
merous in Egypt that, in the most severe and memorable 
persecution under Maximianus, the predecessor of Con- 
stantine the Great, one hundred thousand Christians were 
put to death there, and seven hundred thousand were sold 

a Eutychij origines eccl. Alexand. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 483 

for slaves ; a barbarity which satiated and glutted the mal 
ice 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 in 
stitutions, were originally two or more elders, besides the 
pastors and teachers, i. e., four presbyters ; although, hav 
ing 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 travelled 
Crete, and ordained elders in every city himself trav 
elled Ireland, converted it to Christianity, and constituted 
three hundred and fifty -five churches, and in each ordained 
a set of elders, with a bishop at their head, a as did Mark 
in Alexandria; agreeable to that of the Irish poet in the 
psalter of Cashet, 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." * 



a Nonnius, speaking of St. Patrick, says: " Ecclesias 355 fundavit, episcopos 
ordinavit eodem numero, presbyteros autem usque ad tria millia ordinavit." 
See Nonnius and Keating 

1 See Neander s Church History, Torrey s trans., Bonn s ed. 1858, iii. 
172-177. ED. 



484 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

[He began the conversion of Ireland about A. D. 432, 
and labored in it until his death, about A. D. 490, a3tat. 
122. His ecclesiastical laws and canons continued there 
four hundred years after his death, until after the Danish 
invasion. Although St. Patrick was born in Wales, yet 
he was educated and ordained in Gaul, and borrowed from 
thence the model of his churches ; which shows that the 
Gallican churches, before their subjugation to Rome, as 
well as the Church of England in the time of the bishops 
and monks of Glastenbury, were similar in their ecclesi 
astical polity to the churches in Egypt before the Council 
of Nice, to those of Ireland in Patrick s day, to the pres 
ent Walderisian reliquiae, or remnant of the ancient Gal 
lic churches, and to the Calvinistic churches of the 
Reformation.] * 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 muti 
lated, artificial forms of the pontifical or patriarchal con 
stitutions 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 course of 
events our increasing and growing interest, without any 
interference with the other sects, will at length ascend to 
such a magnitude, and become so great and respectable a 
part of Christendom, as to command the attention, con- 

1 The lines in brackets were added in the edition of 1785. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 485 

temptation, 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 1 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 millen 
nium, 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 exten 
sively subservient to some of the most 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 as Deism, and Gentilism, and Mohammedanism. 
They will then search all Christendom for the best niodel, 

1 Compare with this the remarkable words of John Robinson, the pas 
tor of the Pilgrim Fathers, who said to them, on their embarkation at 
Dclfthavcn, in 1G20 : " Brethren, I am fully persuaded, I am very confident, 
that the Lord has more truth yet to break forth out of his holy Word." 
He probably had special reference to ecclesiastical polity. ED. 

41* 



486 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 178-3. 

the purest exemplification of the Christian church, with 
the fewest human mixtures. And when God in his provi 
dence shall convert the world, should the newly Christian 
ized nations assume our form of religion, should American 
missionaries be blessed to succeed in the work of Chris 
tianizing the heathen, in which the Romanists and for 
eign 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. 1 

" 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." a 

a Vision of Columb. b. 2.2 

1 How gloriously this prophecy of America s mission to the world is 
already being accomplished, appears, in part, in the noble history and 
statistics of the Missionary, Bible, and Tract Societies of the United 
States in their operations over the round world; missionaries not only 
of the Christian home and civilization, but coadjutors in the fields of 
science and philosophy. To them ethnology, philology, history, geog 
raphy, commerce, are willing and continual debtors, as well as aids. 
Perhaps the conquest of Canada may be adopted as the epoch of modern 
missionary enterprise, when the door was wide opened to its benevolent 
designs among the aborigines, see Whcelock s narratives, and from 
that expanding, till it shall illumine the world with the gospel of Chris 
tian liberty. The natural political influence of American institutions 
abroad hardly admits of statistical statement, as it is not the result of 
organized associations. ED. 

2 Dr. Stiles must have quoted these lines from the MS. of Mr. Barlow s 
poem, which was not published till 1787. It was dedicated to the unhappy 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 487 

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, 

II. That her system of dominion must receive its finish 
ing 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 tran 
sient, 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 Egyp 
tian, 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 peo 
ple 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 earth. It would 
greatly conduce to this if Moses and Aaron, if the magis 
tracy and priesthood, should cooperate 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, 1 through fear lest the United 

Louis XVL, and was republishcd in Paris. This distinguished states 
man s career illustrates the broad and deep influence of the American 
Revolution on European politics. He regarded the cross not as the em 
blem of Christianity, but of its corruptions by Popery. He died Decem 
ber 22, 1812, aged fifty-eight. Allen s Biog. Diet, has a full notice of him, 
with authorities. Where are his large collections, intended for a History 
of the United States? ED. 

1 The external separation of church and state, now complete, leaves a 
nobler vantage-ground to the Christian Teacher in his duty to his coun- 



488 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

States, like the five viceroyships 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 dom 
ineering prelates and other haughty, intriguing dignitaries 
of the Romish church. Hence Aaron is spurned at a dis 
tance, and the Levites are beheld with shy contempt, as a 
useless, burdensome, dangerous tribe ; and, in 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. 1 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, indi 
cated by such events. A general spirit reigns against the 
most liberal and generous establishments in religion ; 
against the civil magistrates encouraging or having any 
thing more to do about religion than to keep the civil 



try; and as Christian morals and principles are the true foundation of a 
free Christian commonwealth, how momentous is his responsibility to 
God and man for fidelity in " declaring all the counsel of God ! " The 
zeal, firmness, and integrity of the pulpit in " preaching the gospel," from 
the time of Mayhcw to Stiles, was of vital importance to the triumph of 
our national freedom. But Christianity is perpetual, and for daily use. 
Most legislation involves or relates to public morals, questions in foro 
conscientiw, and here Christianity has sovereign jurisdiction, which can be 
violated only by the sufferance of that teacher who, whether from timid 
ity, weakness, or open treachery, is false to his Master, unworthy of his 
great commission, and sure of the contempt of men. Mayhew and Stiles 
are examples, for all time, of Christian manhood in the pulpit. " Politics 
and the Pulpit " is the title of an " essay " on the true relations of the 
pulpit, published by the American Tract Society. ED. 
1 See p. 69, note 1, et seq. ED. , 



THE FUTURE GLORY OP THE UNITED STATES. 489 

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. 1 
This is 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 cool 
ness and neglect. I Avish 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 that holy man, that learned and pious civilian, 
when he shone in the supreme triumvirate at the head of 
an empire of one hundred and twenty provinces vener 
able for political wisdom, venerable for religion ! 

i See p. 69, et seq. ED. 



490 DR. STILES s ELECTION SERMON, nss. 

If men, not merely nominally Christians, but of real 
religion and sincere piety, joined with abilities, were ad 
vanced 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 1 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 Moseses and Joshuas of this land. So shone 

1 The theological world was some time disturbed by the speculative 
school founded by John Hutchinson, 1674-1737, who taught that all 
knowledge is contained in the Scriptures, and that every Hebrew root has 
a spiritual as Avell as an obvious sense. Allibone ; Gorton. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OP THE UNITED STATES. 491 

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 Jehoshaphat, 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 pat 
riotic 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 gov 
ernment, 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. 1 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 reli 
gion of that religion for which they fled to these ends 
of the earth. An institution is not made for the laws, but 
the laws for the institution. I am narrating a historical 
fact, not giving a position or principle which by shrewd 
politicians may be abused to justify spiritual tyranny, and 
to support the claims of the pontificate over all the civil 
states, kingdoms, and empires in Christendom. 

The American Nehemiah, the opulent 2 and pious Gov- 

1 See pp. xii., xv.-xix. ED. 

2 This gentleman s name is made familiar by his History, first published 



492 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

ernor Wipthrop 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 this happiest of all the United 
States still embosoms so many Phinehases and Zorobabels, 
so many religious patriots, the friends of Jesus and his 
holy religion ; and that the Messiah s cause is here accom 
panied with civil government and the priesthood; allu 
sively 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, a and diffuse their 
salutary influence of order and happiness through the 
community. 

a Zech. iv. 11. 

in 1790, at Hartford, under the care of Mr. Webster, and two later editions, 
ably edited by Mr. Savage. Another work from his pen, the " Short 
Story" of the Antinomian troubles, has been treated with editorial sever 
ity, under the supposition that it was written by another hand, Rev. 
Thomas Welde. Some of his manuscripts are yet unpublished. Dr. 
Stiles s impression of Winthrop s " opulence" is corrected by his own letters 
in Mr. Savage s " appendix," which show that " one great motive" to his 
migrating to New England was the care of his family; that he had lived 
for some years in an unsettled condition;, as early as 1623 he wrote to his 
son, "I wish oft God would open a way to settle me in Ireland;" that 
he was embarrassed by debt, and finally sold his land for about 1500; 
"you must sell it speedily, for much debt will lie upon us," letter August 
14, 1630, which left him enough to win a new home in the New World. 
Here, too, he had pecuniary difficulties, which certainly leave no "blem 
ish" upon his memory, and of which his own account may be read in the 
History, vol. i., 474-477. 

It would be safe, in point of time, to attribute the favorite portrait of 
Winthrop (see p. 154) to Ruben s pencil, but not to Vandyke s, for he prob 
ably did not set foot in England till after Winthrop s departure, in March, 
1629. Those artists sought for commissions from the court and nobility. 

Eliot s and Allen s Dictionaries have good notices of Winthrop. See 
an article by Mr. R. C. Winthrop, in Bridgman s " King s Chapel Memo 
rials," 1853, pp. 309-315; "Historical Magazine," 18-37, p. 321; 1858, pp. 
22, 170, 224; also this volume, pp. xi., xxiii., notes. ED. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 493 

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 ad 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 1 than the whole 
collective body of our fellow-Protestants in Europe. The 
whole proselytism of New England in particular, for sixty 
or seventy 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 favor 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 intelli 
gences, or orders of being, have lapsed, and that unhappily 
we have the dishonor of being one of them. 

The second person of the coeternal Trinity, having as- 

i See pp. 440, 468, notes. ED. 
42 



494 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

sumed 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 to 
the divine law, which is as obligatory upon Christians as if 
eternal life was suspended on perfect obedience. 

The eternal 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 are of free grace, the retri 
butions 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 extend 
with equal ardor and sincerity, be the religious denomina 
tion 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, the articuli stantis et cadentis ecclesice. 

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 a state, the more will 
its felicity be advanced ; for, certainly, the morals of 
Christianity are excellent. It enjoins obedience to magis 
tracy, justice, harmony, and benevolence among fellow- 
citizens ; and, what is more, it points out immortality to 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 495 

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 and ridicule with su 
preme 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 \vith 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 in 
fuses into a people, we shall be led to consider the true 
religion as the highest glory of a civil polity. The Chris 
tian 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 reigns in vigor 
and perfection. 

Let us institute a comparison of religions in three dif 
ferent 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 man 
kind. 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 



496 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, ,1783. 

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 Mohammedan, 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 Zoroas 
ter, of the Bramina 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 
one-third of the human race. Let us select the last ; it has 
for its basis, in common with all other idolatrous systems, 
adoration arid worship, of some kind or other, to a hierar 
chy 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 apostasy of the 
church to the worship of Mahuzzim departed souls, invisi 
ble spirits, as intercessors with God. This is the real basis 
of all idolatry, ancient and modern. These were the Baa 
lim and the heroes. And it is just indifferent whether we 
sacrifice and pray to Hercules or 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 assem 
blies and convocations for the sacrificial worship of these 
inferior divinities, with a splendid ceremonial and priest 
hood : 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 can 
onization, so neither was it by the Ten Tribes, all of whom 
but eight thousand kissed the calves and worshipped the 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 497 

numerous Baalim, heroes, or demi-gods. Dr. Middleton 
has shown that the specifical 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 Chris 
tianity 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 acknowl 
edged the ministry of angels, so they held with the minis 
try 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 rea 
soning as that upon which the Christian idolatry is de 
fended. 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 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 

42* 



498 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

assured that the Romanists think themselves to have great 
reason for the adoration of the superior powers. 

Adjacent to this an empire of the same excellent consti 
tution shall be overspread with deism exclusively. And 
to give the idea the most candid extent, perhaps beyond 
the desires of a Tyndal, or even of a Shaftesbury, 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 reli 
gion or moral reasoning than Cicero in poetry or Gibber 
for the drama, I say, to give the fairest idea of perfect 
deism, let the people of this empire be resolved into 
occasional, but not too frequent, worshipping assemblies, 
for worshipping the God of nature under the direction 
of the illuminated brethren, or of some right worship 
ful brother ; and also to thank God for his goodness in 
this life, and for a certain prospect of a blessed im 
mortality, 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 benev 
olence. 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 saith, 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 ter 
ritorial empire. And to preclude the sectarian prejudica- 
tions 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 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 499 

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 endeavor of the rulino- 
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 excel 
lent 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 descrip 
tion, infinitely momentous indeed, and infinitely surpass 
ing 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 worldy splen 
dor? 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 un 
concerned spectator of human affairs ? If not, why should 
we doubt or hesitate to give the preference to the Chris 
tian Republic ? If revelation be not true, it does us no 



500 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

hurt ; we are as safe and as well off as others, having all 
their moral virtue. But if revelation be true, it is true exclu 
sively, 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 cer 
tain internal beauty and glory opened by Heaven upon a 
benighted world. Peradventure, with other happy millions, 
we may be also blessed to perceive it to be not a cun 
ningly devised fable, as was conceived by that impious pon 
tiff who could exclaim, Eheu! quantum lucrifecit nobis 
hoBCfabula Christif but the wisdom and power of God, to 
have issued from the fountain of unerring wisdom and 
consummate benevolence ; which will be the case, the 
happy fact, the moment we perceive the evidence of the 
one single fact of the resurrection of Christ, after his 
undoubted crucifixion, a fact testified by eye-witnesses, 
and supported by evidence preserved in memoirs which 
have come down to us with greater authenticity than Jus 
tin or Ta citus, evidence, I say, overlooked indeed, but 
never overthrown, and which at once will support the 
whole glorious superstructure of Christianity. 

But I need pardon that I should institute this compari 
son in a Christian assembly, and in a country where we 
seem to be in no danger of idolatry, and where, God be 
thanked ! deists are very thinly sown ; although, like 
another set of men among us of illaudable and invidious 
description, they magnify themselves into legions. 

I have supposed all religions equal as to virtue, and that 
civil virtue is the only end of civil society ; but I must 
resume both these mistakes. Vices and every species 
of wickedness are found, more or less, to enter into the 
essence of all religions except that of divine revelation. If 
Christians are wicked, and even should they surpass the 
Gentiles in vice, their religion never taught them so. But 



THE FUTURE GLORY OP THE UNITED STATES. 501 

fe 

the very institution of the festivals of the ancient gods 
and goddesses directly taught the most impure obscenities 
and libidinous revellings. And this is continued to this 
day in the East Indies. An Indian Bramin, Arunasalem, a 
Pandarums, or priest of Tarmaburam, was converted to 
Christianity in 17G5, a upon which the college of Panda- 
rum sent him a letter to reclaim him. Too long, says he 
in his reply, too long have I been a witness to public 
lewdness in the sacrifices and worship of your pagodas 
or temples. My conscience told me these institutions 
could not come from a pure and holy God. O my God! 
how do I lament that I have been twenty-eight years 
thine enemy ! No ablution, no sacrifice of Lingam, can 
wash away sin and purify the souf; the blood, sufferings, 
and sacrifice of Jesus Nadar, the Redeemer, alone cleanse 
from all sin. 1 

This, with a survey of the state of man in all ages, may 
show us that ethnic morals do not merit the high encomi 
ums, the rapturous eulogies, which some have given them. 
Nor are deistical morals very promising. A world, a uni 
verse full of Rochesters and Chesterfields what would it 
be 9 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 Brarnins 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 deis- 

a Born 1737. 

1 The author s note of two pages, on the Religion of India, is omitted. 

ED. 



502 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

tical 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 en 
dearing fondness and friendship."* 

Sir William Temple, Sale, and other learned deists, fond 
of depreciating Christian virtue by comparisons, have ex 
tolled and celebrated the Mohammedan, Chinese, and 
other oriental morals, as far superior to the Christian. 
But the learned historiographer, Principal Robertson, as 
serts, 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 so 
ciety 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 ex 
cesses of a general licentiousness ; yet, supposing a com 
munity, a kingdom, a world, overspread with such charac 
ters, with the finest morals of a Socrates or a Confucius, 
what would be the moral state of such a country in com 
parison with one overspread with the reign of the Chris 
tian 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 govern- 

a William Beadle, who. professing himself a deist, on the eleventh of Decem 
ber, 1782, cut the throats of his wile and four children, and then pistoled himself. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 503 

ment. 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, there 
fore, we defend and plead for Christianity from its secular 
and civil utility only, and leave it here, we dishonor reli 
gion 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, reconcilia 
tion with him, and the reunion of this lapsed world with 
the immense universe. Discoveries momentous and inter 
esting 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 beings 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 or 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 absurd 
ity of absurdities. And why should that Infinite Good 
ness 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, 



504 DR. STILES S ELECTION SERMON, 1783. 

and Palermo ? Cast thine eyes thither, O man, remember 
the battle, and do no more. 

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 downward, till we doubt of God"; b 

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 riirht hand of 

) 

the Majesty on high, how would these mighty sensible 
characters, these fine 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 juve 
nile leap into the irrecoverable depths of deism ; for so 
rare are the Forbeses and the Jenningses, the instances of 
emancipated real infidels, that nulla vestigia retrorsum 
maybe 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 capti 
vated with the wily, satirical, delusory, and deficient rea 
sonings of deism. Elevated with the pride of mental 
enlargement, of a supposed untrammeled understanding, 
tlrey ascend aloft above the clouds of prejudices into the 
Pisgah heights, from whence they fancy that they see all 
religions the same that is, equally nothing but priest 
craft and artificial error; whereupon they compliment them 
selves as endowed with a superiority of discernment in 
morals, with high sensibility, sentimental and liberal ideas, 

a Job xli. 8. b Pope. c No return from hence. 



THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE UNITED STATES. 505 

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 danger 
ous to trifle. Although most religions are false and ridic 
ulous, 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 : " Whosoever