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strengthen your resolutions and prosper your endea- . vours? And in return for his expected deliverance, have you in his awful presence, deprecated your former sins, and (solemnly renouncing them) promised to devote yourselves to his will and ways, all the days of your lives? So far as you have done this, you have done well. So far you have kept a true Fast, considering it as something infinitely above all human Appointments.
But if any seeds of Ambition, Licentiousness or Revenge, are yet left to spring up in our hearts, to check those Fruits of Peace and Love, which the Gospel of Christ would cherish there; if we have brought to this solemn Fast any turbulent Desires, any secret views of fostering Party-Spirit, any Lust of unjust Dominion, any Impatience of lawful Government, or wish to weaken its bands, or intrench upon plighted Faith and the Sanctity of Laws—then let us be assured that we counter-work our own Salvation, not only in the next world, but in this. Our Fast this day, is only a mockery of our almighty Creator!
If we come to God for a blessing on our temporal affairs, it must be with the conviction that all earthly happiness is derived from Him; that, in his sight, the best Christian is the best Patriot; that the Man who upholds the Purity and Majesty of Religion can best serve his country; and that where the Sense of Religion is once lost, the Sense of Liberty, and of every thing else that is valuable in this world, must be immediately lost with it.
My Brethren, I am now upon a very serious subject, and in very serious times. I trust you will suffer and expect me to speak with the utmost freedom, as becomes one professing, from scripture, to speak the will and word of God among you.
If then we would seek true inducements for Heroism and Virtue in every time of danger, let us not consider this fruitful land which we possess, as given to us merely for advancing our own temporal interests; but also that we might be the means of diffusing the Knowledge and Practice of Religion, as well as of civil Liberty and Happiness, to the nations that sit in Darkness round us.
Nay we ought to view this design-(the planting and raising an Empire of Christian Knowledge here) as the first and greatest work we have to do.
A temporal Empire, however favourite a notion, is a secondary work, which can only spring from, and be supported by, the former; without which, all other blessings of nature or industry—the happiness and fertility of soil, zeal and struggles for Liberty, will be totally vain.
That this whole continent shall one day become a happy seat of knowledge and freedom, arts and polished life, and whatever can exalt or adorn mankind; is a hope which, as I said before, the voice of Scripture and Prophecy leads us fondly to cherish in our breasts. It seems the mighty purpose of God, in many predispositions of his Providence, to enlighten the dark parts of this new world; and He will raise up proper instruments, if not in us, at least in others more worthy, should we neglect the adyancement of His divine purposes.
It becomes us, therefore, impartially to examine our own hearts and ways; to consider how far we are striving to embrace the opportunities offered us of becoming instruments in the hands of Providence for spreading Religion and Virtue through this immense country.
With what reproach would our names be transmitted to posterity, should we act as if we had come into this land flowing with Milk and Honey, only to eat and enjoy the fruits thereof; to wrest from the former Lords of the soil the possessions which they have held from age to age; without striving, in return, to better their condition, by Example, by Precept, by every means in our power; diffusing among them all the blessings which a pure Religion, and a temperate System of Laws, can give.
In this view of things, and on this solemn occasion, let me therefore sum up all I have to say by entreating you, in the name of God and by the love you profess for your country, to regulate all your conduct by the principles of Truth, Justice and Righteousness. Keep in view the divine Work in which you are called to be Instruments, so far as we seem capable to comprehend the Promises and Revelations of the Almighty. Strive in the first place to preserve your spiritual Liberty, and to resist the Dominion of Sin, adorning your profession by the Purity of your Lives; and then you may hope for a blessing in every effort for the support of your civil Liberty-Let no Acts of Violence, Rashness, Intemperance, or Undutifulness to the country from whence we spring, evern disgrace our cause. And be assured, as I said before, that he is truly the greatest Patriot, and the best man, who, in all his ways, supports the majesty of Religion, reverences the laws of his country, and keeps a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.
While you act within this line; while you can carry with you a true conviction that Religion, Justice, Laws divine and human, are on your side, in this great contest; the worst events will not apall you too much; nor the most prosperous elate you into forgetfulness of God. Your zeal will be enlightened, but temperate. The pulse of glory will beat high, but not with a Feverish heat.
May the almighty God, therefore, in this day, of his visitation, direct you in all your ways, and speedily give you, “ Beauty instead of Sackcloth and Ashes, “ the Oil of Joy instead of Mourning, and the Garment of Praise instead of heaviness of Heart."
WHEREFORE have we Fasted, say they, and thou seest not?
Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge!
WE are this day assembled, agreeably to the recommendation of the Congress of these United States, as expressed in the following Proclamation, viz.
“ At all times it is our duty, to acknowledge the over-ruling Providence of the great Governor of the universe, and devoutly to implore His divine favour and protection. But in the hour of calamity and impending danger, when by fire and the sword, by the savages of the wilderness, and by our own domestics, a vindictive enemy pursues a war of rapine and de. vastation, with unrelenting fury, we are peculiarly excited, with true penitence of heart, to prostrate ourselves before our great Creator, and fervently to sup. plicate his gracious interposition for our deliverance.
The United States in Congress assembled, therefore, do earnestly recommend, That Thursday the third of May next, may be observed as a day of Hu