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context! To no period under the law, to no former period under the gospel, can we look for the full explanation, or near accomplishment, of the prophecy before us! To the present æra, and to the happy circumstances under which we are now assembled, we are called to turn our meditations, and to seek for a more ample commentary upon this prophecy; where. in there is a two-fold work of the Lord to be considered—for which, “He hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations”
I.“ To deliver a people who were oppressed, to restore and comfort them, and to make their waste places sing for joy.”
II. “ To accompany this deliverance with tidings of good things,” the universal overtures of Peace and Salvation; till the happy land shall become the last and most glorious stage and theatre of gospel knowledge.
Here then, in this divine work for which“the Lord hath made bare his holy arm, in the eyes of all the nations, even to the ends of the earth,”—the inhabitants of these American states appear to be brought into the midst of the great Drama. They mourned under “ oppression and wrong; but now they are restored and comforted." Their land was desolated; but now “ their waste places sing for joy." They have heard the tidings of good things.” The gospel is preached unto them. They rejoice in this preaching. They exult and cry out in the words of our prophet, as quoted by St. Paul
“ How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things; that publish peace and salvation, and say unto Zion, thy God reigneth?"
But our prophet further explains himself, on this last diffusion of the gospel, by connecting with it the greatest temporal felicity, in strains further applicable to our present circumstances, and worthy of our most earnest attention.
“ The Lord himself shall be an everlasting light unto the world. They who follow that light shall become a righteous people, and inherit the land forever, as a branch of his planting, whereby he may be glorified. A little one (among such a people) shall become a thousand, and a small one a great nation!"*
This he hath promised, and this he will perform;" he will hasten it;” yea, he is now hastening it in his own blessed way! a little one is becoming a thousand, and small ones are becoming great nations. The auspicious æra is at hand, and its blessings almost within our grasp! The anticipation of them ought to fill us with a holy fervour, and be as a portion of divine fire, to animate us in the remaining duties of this day, which (as hath been already stated) regard a Temporal as well as spiritual Salvation.
Although to commemorate a temporal deliverance and salvation, on each annual return of this day, be the principal design of the illustrious band of Citizens, Soldiers, and Patriots, by whose appointment I stand here; yet I have their authority to say, that they join with every sincere Christian, in this great and respectable assembly, in considering it as their indispensable duty, never to separate the commemo
Isaiah Ix. 22,
ration of Temporal, from that of Spiritual, blessings and deliverances. They are indeed inseparable in their nature; and these Patriots and Soldiers appear in this sacred place to manifest to the world, that in their consideration, * the joy of this day, as often as it shall return, ought not to be a noisy and tumultuous joy, shouts of triumph, a display of the spoils of enemies, trophies of victory, the mere glare and parade of external shew, illuminations, feastings and the like, (which, as emblems and remembrancers, may on proper occasions be allowable and fit); But it should be a religious joy, the joy of the heart before the Lord, mixed with a holy and reverential fear; rejoicing indeed, but our rejoicing should be with “trembling;” lest we follow the example of Israel, who, when they saw the great work which the Lord did for them upon the Egyptians, feared the Lord and Moses, and commemorated their deliverance with songs of joy, saying, “ Who is like unto thee, o Lord, amongst the Gods; glorious in majesty, doing wonders?" Yet soon did they forget their deliverer; and, for the punishment of their ingratitude, were scattered among the nations which knew not God.
That these United States might never fall into the like forgetfulness of the great work which the Lord hath done for them, in their establishment as a free and independent nation, nor incur the punishment due to such ingratitude; to perpetuate those friendships, which, as the strong arm of a giant, had con
• The above is in part a repetition of a sentence or two from the Thanks. giving Sermon on Cornwallis's Defeat, &c.—But the subjects were different, as well as the occasions; and some such repetitions are unavoidable.
tributed so much to their mighty achievement; and to unite more closely in offices of love and charity to distressed brethren-were the great objects for which the society of Cincinnati was established. But the account of their institution can be given, in no language superior to their own.
Having lived, say they, in the strictest habits “ of amity through the various stages of a war, un“paralleled in many of its circumstances—in the “ moment of triumph and separation, when we were 166 about to act the last pleasing, melancholy, scene in “our military Drama-pleasing, because we were “ to leave our country possessed of Independence "and Peace; melancholy, because we were to part, “ perhaps, never to meet again; it was impossible not " to wish such friendships to be continued-it was “ impossible to forget the dangers by which they 1 " were cemented”- it was impossible not to indulge a desire to convey to their posterity, a perpetual memorial of the blessings procured by their happy labours, and to make provision for alleviating the distresses of such of their brethren as had suffered more immediately and eminently in the general cause.
Under those impressions, “ when it pleased the Supreme Governor of the universe to give success to their arms, and finally to establish the United States, free and independent; the Society of Cincinnati was instituted, gratefully to commemorate the important event; to inculcate, to the latest ages, the duty of laying down, in peace, the arms assumed for public defence, by forming an institution which recognizes that most important principle of the amor patria; to continue the mutual friendships which commenced under the pressure of common danger; and to effectuate the acts of beneficence, dictated by the spirit of brotherly kindness, towards those officers and their fami. lies who might be under the necessity of receiving them.”
With these principles, retiring into the shade of private life, holding up the character of that illustrious Roman, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus for their example and model, they assumed his name, having “ Patriotism,
Friendship and Charity,” as the basis of their institution and order; a foundation more honourable, than could be derived from all the wealth and grandeur of the proudest monarchs.
Against an institution, founded on such pure and patriotic principles, why should even a suspicion have ever arisen, as if it had been intended to “ destroy that equality of rank in Society, to attain which its founders had suffered every hardship of war and want; freely relinquishing the arms which were in their hands, and retiring into private life unrewarded, and wholly dependent on the justice and liberality of their country?”
With a noble spirit, gentlemen, you have ascribed those suspicions, although wholly unjust, to that holy Jealousy which freemen ever ought to maintain for the preservation of their rights; and you condescended to reform the Constitution of your society, by a removal or amendment of every article which could continue the least ground of such jealousy; thereby gaining a victory over yourselves (if possible,) more heroic and magnanimous, than all the former examples of your heroism and magnanimity.