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pay their homage there; they might always have an answer ready—“Behold the pattern of the altar which our fathers built.” Behold your own religious and civil institutions, and then examine the frames of government and systems of laws raised by our fathers in every part of America! Could these have been such exact copies of your own, if they had not inherited the same spirit, and spring from the same stock, with yourselves?
Thus far you see the Parallel yet holds good, and I think cannot be called a perversion of my text; if you will allow that the supreme power of an empire, whether theocratical, monarchical, or howsoever distributed, may be represented under the figure of one common altar, at which the just devotion of all the subjects is to be paid.
But it is said that we have of late departed from our former line of duty, and refused our homage at the great altar of British empire. And to this it has been replied that the very refusal is the strongest evi. dence of our veneration for the altar itself. Nay, it is contended by those charged with this breach of devotion, that when in the shape of unconstitutional ex. actions, violated rights and mutilated charters, they were called to worship idols, instead of the true divi. nity, it was in a transport of holy jealousy, that they dashed them to pieces, or whelmed them to the bottom of the ocean.
This is, in brief, the state of the argument on each side. And hence, at this dreadful moment, ancient friends and brethren stand prepared for events of the most tragic nature.
Here the weight of my subject almost overcomes me; but think not that I am going to damp that noble ardor which at this instant glows in every bosom present. Nevertheless, as from an early acquaintance with many of you, I know that your principles are pure, and your humanity only equalled by your transcendent love of your country; I am sure you will indulge the passing tear, which a preacher of the Gospel of Love must now shed over the scenes that lie before us—Great and deep distress about to pervade every corner of our land! Millions to be cal. led from their peaceful labours by " the sound of the trumpet, and the alarm of war! Garments rolled in blood,” and even Victory itself only yielding an occasion to weep over friends and relatives slain! These are melancholy prospects; and therefore you will feel with me the difficulties I now labour under-forsaken by my text, and left to lament alone that, in the Pa. rent-land, no Phinehas has prevailed; no Embassy* of great or good men has been raised, to stay the sword of destruction, to examine into the truth of our case, and save the effusion of kindred blood. I am left to lament that, in this sad instance, Jewish tenderness has put Christian benevolence to shame.
“ Our Brethren, the house of our Fathers, even they have called a multitude against us.
• It is acknowledged with gratitude that many great and exalted characters have advocated the cause of America; and, previous to all coercive measures, advised an inquiry or hearing, similar to that for whichi Phinehas was appointed. What is here lamented, and will be long lamented, is that this council could not take place. If brethren could come together in such a temper as this, the issue could not fail to be for their mutual glory and mutual happiness.
" enemy thus reproached us, then perhaps we might “ have borne it. But it was you, Men our equals, “ our guides, our acquaintance, with whom we took “ sweet council and walked together into the house “ of God.” Or had it been for
Or had it been for any essential benefit to the Commonwealth at large, we would have laid our hands on our mouths, and bowed obedience with our usual silence. But for Dignity and Supremacy! What are they when set in opposition to common utility, common justice, and the whole faith and spirit of the Constitution? True Dignity is to govern Freemen, not Slaves; and true Supremacy is to excel in doing Good.
It is time, and indeed more than time, for a great and enlightened people to make names bend to things, and ideal honour to practical safety! Prece, dents and indefinite claims are surely things too nugatory to convulse a mighty empire. Is there no wisclom, no great and liberal plan of policy to re-unite its members, as the sole bulwark of Liberty and Protestantism; rather than by their deadly strife to encrease the importance of those states that are foes to freedom, truth and humanity? To devise such a plan, and to behold British colonies spreading over this immense continent, rejoicing in the common rights of Freemen, and imitating the Parent State in every excellence—is more glory than to hold lawless dominion over all the nations on the face of the earth!
But I will weary you no longer with fruitless lamentations concerning things that might be done. The question now is-since they are not done, must we tamely surrender any part of our birthright, or of that great charter of privileges, which we not only claim by inheritance, but by the express terms of our colonization? I say, God forbid! For here, in particular, I wish to speak so plain that neither my own principles, nor those of the church to which I belong, may be misunderstood.
Although, in the beginning of this great contest, we* thought it not our duty to be forward in widening the breach, or spreading discontent; although it be our fervent desire to heal the wounds of the public, and to shew by our temper that we seek not to distress, but to give the parent state an opportunity of saving themselves and saving us before it be too late; nevertheless, as we know that our civil and religious rights are linked together in one indissoluble bond, we neither have, nor seek to have, any interest separate from that of our country; nor can we advise a desertion of its cause. Religion and liberty must flourish or fall together in America! We pray that both may be perpetual!
A continued submission to violence is no tenet of our church. When her brightest luminaries, near a century past, were called to propagate the court doctrine of a dispensing Power, above Law-did they treacherously cry—“Peace, Peace,” when there was no Peace? Did they not magnanimously set their foot upon the line of the constitution, and tell Majesty to its face that “they could not betray the public liberty,” and that the monarch's only safety consisted “in governing according to the laws?” Did not their example, and consequent sufferings, kindle a fame that illuminated the land, and intro
• Meaning here the Clergy, and Members of the Church of England, in general.
duced that noble system of public and personal liberty, secured by the revolution? Since that period, have not the avowed principles of our greatest divines been against raising the Church above the State; jealous of the national rights, resolute for the protestant succession, favourable to the reformed religion, and desirous to maintain the faith of Toleration? If exceptions have happened, let no society of Christians stand answerable for the deviations, or corruptions, of individuals.
The doctrine of absolute Non-resistance has been fully exploded among every virtuous people. The free-born soul revolts against it, and must have been long debased, and have drank in the last dregs of corruption, before it can brook the idea " that a whole “ people injured may, in no case, recognise their
trampled Majesty.” But to draw the line, and say. where Submission ends and Resistance begins, is not the province of the ministers of Christ, who has given no * rule in this matter, but left it to the feelings and consciences of the injured. For when
The author, in Sermon I. of this volume, on 1. Peter ii, 17, long since delivered his sentiments fully on this point in the following words, viz.-" It would be absurd to argue as some have done, that the apostle here meant to enjoin a continued submission to violence-The love of man. kind, and the fear of God, those very principles from which we trace the divine original of just government, will lead us, by all probable means, to resist every attempt to enslave the free-born soul, and oppose the righ. teous will of God, by defeating the happiness of men. Resistance, however, is to be a last resource, and none but the majority of a whole people, can determine in what cases it is necessary. In the Scriptures, therefore, obedience is rightly inculcated in general terms. For a people may sometimes imagine grievances they do not feel, but will never miss to feel and com. plain of them where they really are, unless their minds have been gradu. ally prepared for slavery by absurd tenets.''