United States, not only through former trials and perils, but now blessing us with peace, liberty, and safety in all our borders-appears to call upon us, and to have preserved us, as chosen instruments for planting and disseminating a "new empire of sound Religion and Liberty, Wisdom, Virtue, Arts and Sciences, to the outmost ends of the new world; at a time when they are drooping or dead in most countries of the old world, which once enjoyed their brightest splendor."


The prosecution of this great design-the diffusing of heavenly Knowledge, and Liberty, and Arts and Sciences, unto the extremest bounds of America, I have ever considered as the first and greatest work for which we were sent into it, and for which the Almighty hath hitherto prospered us; making the "wilderness and the solitary places glad through us, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose." To look forward to that glorious æra, when heavenly Wisdom and Virtue, and all that can civilize, adorn, and bless mankind, shall cover this whole continent, "as the waters cover the sea”—to attend to the times and the seasons, and to dwell upon the many prophecies which predict its near approach-to contribute my share towards the advancement of it, and to possess the minds of the rising generations of youth, who are to be principal actors in the work, with the great, the animating Idea, that Heaven hath yet mighty blessings in store for the inhabitants of this land, of every clime and every colour-this hath been my joy, and this my labour from my earliest years. The contemplation of the subject hath often filled my soul

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

with raptures, approaching almost to enthusiasm, some sparks of which I feel even yet working in my bosom; and oh! that I could now strike them forth into an enlivening flame upon this auspicious occasion, perhaps the last of the kind which I can ever embrace, to declare once more, my full persuasion, that unless we are zealously instrumental in this great work of civilization, all our other works and blessings-the happiness of climate and fruitfulness of soil, our zeal and struggles for liberty, our best plans of civil government, our most absolute national Independence, all will be of little effect-for still we depend on the living God, who hath set eternal bounds between right and wrong, and whose Almighty arm holds the fate of empires and nations, suspended in the balance.

Should we, as a people, neglect the call which is given us, for contributing our utmost endeayours to render this land, a land of Knowledge and Virtue, as well as of Freedom; should we imagine that we were sent into it only to eat the fruits thereof, to wrest from the former lords of the soil, by us called Savages, the possessions which they held from age to age, without seeking to improve their condition as well as our own; should we refuse to "undo the heavy burden, to break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free"-justly might we fear that the good providence of God would punish us for our unworthiness, and raise up other instruments for the accomplishment of his own eternal purposes of love, for Civilizing as well as Christianizing this immense


[ocr errors]

You call this day a Jubilee, in every year, to rejoice before the Lord, and return thanks for the blessings of Freedom. Remember the command given by him to the Jews, in the like case. When they caused the trumpet of the jubilee to sound, "they were to loose the bands of wickedness, to proclaim Liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof; not to oppress one another, but to fear the Lord and do his statutes, and keep his judgments;" and then they had the gracious promise, "that the land should yield her fruit, and they should eat their fill, and dwell therein in safety."

Certain it is that the neglect of God's mercies, and counteracting the gracious purposes of his providence, are offences grievous in his sight. Certain it is, that national sins are the causes of national misery, and that the corruption of the members leads to a dissolution of the whole body.

Where are now the nations and empires of ancient renown? Where is the Jewish nation, which is more immediately addressed in our text? Where the Assyrian, the Macedonian, the Grecian, the Roman, once so celebrated among mankind, at whose voice the surrounding nations trembled? Alas! are they not fallen— fallen-fallen!-sunk into that abyss of shame and misery, where the ghosts of departed empires stalk about in sad lamentation of their former glory! Their dessolation and ruin followed their departure from the path of virtue and honour; and, of what they once

were, only the imperfect memorial remains!

Be wise, then, be instructed, ye rising American States! Let it be your glorious contention which of



you should stand foremost in making liberal provisions for the advancement and support of Freedom and Virtue; without which, neither the ordinances of Religion, nor the Laws can be duly administered; nor the civil duties of life fulfilled; nor the manners of a people improved; 'nor their happiness for any length of time secured. But by wise establishments for the instruction of youth, the advancement of the Arts and Sciences, the encouragement of industry, and the maintenance of Religion and Morality-this shall become a great and happy land!

Transported at the thought, I am borne forward to days of distant renown! In my expanded view, these United States rise, in all their ripened glory, before me. I look, through, and beyond, every yet peopled region of the New World, and behold period still brightening upon period. Where one continuous depth of gloomy wilderness now shuts out even the beams of day, I see new States and Empires, new seats of Wisdom and Knowledge, new Religious domes, spreading around*. In places now untrod by any but savage beasts, or men as savage as they, I hear the voice of happy labor, and behold towery cities growing into the skies!

Lo! in this happy picture, I behold the native Indian exulting in the works of Peace and Civilization! His bloody hatchet he buries deep under ground, and his murderous knife, he turns into a Pruning Hook,

* The general sentiments in this concluding address were published in ⚫ a poem by the author near fifty years ago, and have been occasionally introduced into former public addresses by him, but have not before been published at large, or in the present form.

to lop the tender vine and teach the luxuriant shoot to grow. No more does he form to himself a heaven after death, (according to the poet) in company with his faithful dog, behind the cloud-topt hill, to enjoy solitary quiet, far from the haunts of faithless men; but, better instructed by Christianity, he views his everlasting inheritance, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Instead of recounting to his offspring, round the blazing fire, the bloody exploits of their ancestors, and wars of savage death, shewing barbarous exultation over every deed of woe; methinks I hear him pouring forth his eulogies of praise to the memory of those who were the instruments of Heaven, in raising his tribes from darkness to light; in giving them freedom and civilization; and converting them from violence and blood, to meekness and love!

Amongst those who shall be celebrated as the instruments of this great work, I hear the names of every good citizen and Christian, who is a friend to mankind, and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and especially, methinks, I hear your names, ye illustrious Patriots! who, having asserted your own and your country's rights, cheerfully join in every laudable endeavour for conveying those rights to posterity, and bringing" the utmost ends of the earth to see the Salvation of our God."

Hasten, O Almighty Father, hasten this blessed period of thy Son's Kingdom, which we believe, shall come; and the praise and glory shall be to thy name, forever and ever! Amen.

« VorigeDoorgaan »