David Osgood (1747-1822) preached the following sermon at a national fast day on May 9, 1798. This fast day was proclaimed by President John Adams.
Some Facts evincive of the atheistical, anarchical, and in other respects, immoral Principles of the French Republicans,
STATED IN A
S E R M O N
Delivered on the 9th of May, 1798,
BY THE PRESIDENT
SOLEMN HUMILIATION, FASTING, AND PRAYER
By DAVID OSGOOD, D.D.
Minister of the CHURCH in Medford.
2 Kings, xix. 14, 15, & 16.
And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the LORD.
And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD GOD of Israel, which dwellest between the Cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
LORD, bow down thine ear and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living GOD.
It is among the excellencies of the sacred scriptures that they furnish instruction adapted to all the exigencies of human condition. Whatever calamities befall us, or whatever dangers threaten us, either as individuals, families, or as a community; in the word of God we find our sufferings and fears to be the same, which his servants in former ages experienced; and while we are tried and tempted as they were, their example serves for our guide and support. The people of these United States are this day assembled in the house of God, under circumstances bearing a striking resemblance to those of Hezekiah and his people at the time referred to in the text. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was a triumphant conqueror. His armies had over-run several of the adjacent countries, and subjected various nations to his despotism. Among the rest, the ten tribes of Israel had fallen under his yoke, and Samaria, their capital city, after a siege of three years, had been taken. Flushed with a series of success, the victors looked out for new conquests. The kingdom of Judah bordered upon that which they had already subjugated. They had received no injury from Hezekiah, and had no just pretence for making war upon him. But among the heathen, it was held lawful to engage in war for the sake of plunder and conquest, and for extending the bounds of empire. By an ambition of this kind, all the great conquerors of antiquity seem to have been actuated.
Through the knowledge of revealed religion, the nations of Christendom have been taught better principles. Modern writers upon the law of nations universally agree in reprobating all wars undertaken by avarice, pride, or ambition. They prove, beyond a doubt, that no war can be just which is not, in its principle, defensive, undertaken solely with a view to repel an aggressor, or to prevent probably aggression. They set before us a shocking catalogue of miseries and crimes resulting from wanton hostility---a dreadful account hereafter to be settled by those who engage in offensive war. This kind of war, in itself unjust, is yet undertaken under some pretence susceptible of the colour of right. I do not, says Vattel, in his treatise on the law of nations, place among the objects of offensive war, conquests, or the desire of invading the property of another: such a latitude, destitute even of pretence, is not the object of a formal war, but that of a robbery. He adds, “A nation attacked by such fort of enemies is not under any obligation to observe towards them the rules of war in a form. It may treat them as robbers.” Is not this, my hearers, the real character of those enemies by whom our country is now threatened? They have no pretence, susceptible of the colour of right, to justify their demands. They are evidently influenced by the same spirit and views which incited Rabshakeh and his master against Hezekiah. The old pagan principle of going to war for plunder and conquest, after being exploded in Europe for more than a thousand years, is revived afresh by the present rulers of France since their abolition of Christianity.
Some perhaps may be startled at hearing me affirm, that the legislators of France have abolished the Christian religion. There are indeed persons among us who entertain a very different opinion, who consider them as stripping the whore of Babylon, pulling down the man of sin, destroying popery, and making way for the introduction of the millennium. In their view, the French revolution is a great step towards the glorious times predicted in the gospel, when the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. How astonishing is the force of prejudice in warping the judgments of men! I will set before you, my hearers, some notorious facts, which have been, for years past, circulated in the public papers, and never contradicted by the most zealous advocates for the French. – I will set these facts before you that you may judge for yourselves. “On the fourteenth 1 of December, 1792, in a debate on the establishment of public schools for the education of youth; M. Dupont, a member of the national convention, and who, if I mistake not, is now a member of one of the councils, began his speech with the following exclamation; – “What, thrones are overturned! Scepters broken! Kings expire! And yet the altars of God remain!” – He proceeded to propose the abolition of those altars, and proclaimed himself an atheist, amidst the reiterated plaudits of the assembly, and of the persons in the galleries.” This sentence, Death is an everlasting sleep, written in capitals over the entrance into their grave-yards, was sanctioned by the authority of the legislature. “By the same power was proclaimed the abolition of the Christian era, and the Saviour of the world impiously made to yield precedence to the republic of France.” Instead of saying in their dates, as all Christian nations say, in the year of the Republic, &c. the French say, in the year of the Republic, &c. for since they have become republicans, they disdain the idea of having any Lord over them; they acknowledge neither Christ, nor his Father, nor any other Being as their master. Review their state papers, their laws, the decrees of their councils, and of their executive officers, the orders and dispatches of their generals, and their diplomatic intercourse---I challenge you to produce a single instance, in all these, of their acknowledging any Being above them, or of their making any mention of God or his providence. That Christ and his religion might cease to be remembered, and sink into utter oblivion, they did not content themselves with setting aside the Christian era, they proceeded to abolish the Christian Sabbath. Their new calendar, in which decades are substituted in the room of weeks, was obviously contrived to make the people lose the idea of the former division of time, and forget the weekly Sabbath. It seems, that notwithstanding all these attempts of the government, there were some people so obstinate in their adherence to religion that they persisted in assembling themselves on the Lord’s-day. We have, therefore, been lately told in the public papers, that their rulers, in order to embarrass these fanatics, as they call them, have forbidden the ringing of bells for calling them together to divine service.
On the seventh of November, 1793, the existence of a God and the immortality of the soul – the two first and fundamental principles of all religion – were formally disavowed in the convention; and the resurrection of the dead declared to have been only preached by superstition for the torment of the living! Two days after, in the same place, all the religions in the world were asserted to be the daughters of ignorance and pride. It was decided to be the duty of the convention to assume the honourable office of diffusing truth over the whole earth; – and as a part of this duty, that assembly decreed, that its express renunciation of all religious worship should be translated into all foreign languages. It was stated and received in the convention as an acknowledged truth, that the adversaries of religion have deserved well of their country.
In conformity to the spirit of these decrees, the convention, attended by myriads of the populace, proceeded to desecrate the churches of Christ. “The temple of the Almighty was profaned by the worship of a prostitute, personating the goddess of reason.” The cathedral of Paris exhibited the monstrous spectacle of a pagan sacrifice, by a people who had recently abolished Christianity.---I have another fact to relate, which must thrill with horror every bosom impressed with the least fear of the Almighty. “On the thirtieth of November, 1793, the pupils of a new republican school appeared at the bar of the convention, when their leader declared, that he and his school-fellows detested God! That instead of learning the scriptures, they learned the declaration of rights, and made the constitution their catechism.” After this speech, the representatives of a great nation, by the mouth of their President, “expressed the satisfaction of the convention at the declaration of these young demons. These hopeful scholars were admitted to the honours of the fitting, and received the kiss of fraternity amidst the loudest applause!”
With these facts in view, is there a person in this assembly who can hesitate a moment to conclude, that not only Christianity, but all other religions, are abolished in France, so far as they can be abolished by the authority of the magistrate? Nay, when we consider the facts now stated, are we not constrained to view the French republicans as so many infernals, broken loose from their chains in the pit below, and now appearing in this upper world under the shape of men, but still thinking and acting as demons. They are certainly a new set of characters under the sun. Such decrees and such doings as are recorded in the registers of the French republic, are not to be found in the annals of any other nation from the days of Adam down to this day.
As they are the first body of men, who ever united in disclaiming all religion, and by formal decrees publishing atheism in every language, as a discovery adapted to the general illumination of mankind; so they are the first set of legislators, who ever formed the infernal design of subverting all the regular governments in the world, and encouraging insurrection, disorganization and anarchy throughout every nation. After dethroning their king, one of the first acts of the convention is said to have been, in these explicit words, to declare itself a committee of insurrection of the whole human race for the purpose of overturning all existing governments. The famous decrees of the nineteenth of November and fifteenth of December, 1792, were modifications of the same spirit. “The first was a general signal to insurrection and revolt---an invitation to the seditious of every country, to conspire, under the patronage of France, against the established government, however free. The last of the two decrees is not merely in spirit---it is in terms equivalent to a manifesto of war against every nation having a prince or nobility. It declares explicitly, that the French nation will treat as enemies, every people, who may desire to preserve or restore a government of that character.” These decrees were accompanied by various speeches from influential and leading characters in the convention, to this purport, “that it was necessary to set fire to the four corners of Europe”—that “to disorganize Europe was one of the sublime vocations of the convention”---that “the way to effect it, was by exiting the governed against the governors, and letting the people see the facility and advantage of such insurrections.”
In times past, we have, through ignorance, censured the combined powers as the aggressors in the war; but better information, and the further development of the character of the French rulers, are doing away our error. As the decrees now mentioned, together with the known principles of those who made them, menaced nearly all the regular governments in the world, and portended speedy war against those in the countries adjacent; those neighbouring governments were undoubtedly justifiable; and, indeed, it was their duty immediately to arm, to form alliances, and to adopt every lawful measure in providing for their defense. They had but begun to make these just and necessary preparations, when the French themselves declared war and commenced hostilities. Are they not then chargeable with all the indescribable evils of this most dreadful war? Are not all its horrors, its rivers of blood, its desolation of families, its rapines, its violences, its ravages, its burnings---are they not all the works and the crimes of French republicans?
In the decrees, which I have related, you see their principles; and such as their principles are, such have been, and still are, their actions. They set out with renouncing, in the most explicit terms, all ideas of conquest, or of making the least addition to their territories. In a manner the most alluring, they professed principles of liberty and philanthropy; and invited all nations to fraternize with them in schemes of universal benevolence. By these arts they imposed upon the ignorant mass of their own nation, and upon the ignorant of all other nations, a deception similar to that of the arch fiend, when, under the delusion of making them gods, he seduced our first parents into apostacy. At the very time when they were making these great professions of liberty and equality, they were sending their emissaries into every country, furnished with instructions worthy only of the great enemy of God and man to have dictated. The object of their mission was, by all the arts of intrigue and corruption to prepare the way for carrying into effect the decrees just mentioned---decrees subversive of the civil and religious interests of all mankind. They had it in charge to stir up factions, seditions, and rebellions---to disorganize all established governments, and throw every nation and people into discord and confusion; that being thus divided and weakened, they might be the more easily conquered.
While their agents were thus employed abroad, by systems of terror at home, they put the lives and properties of the whole nation in a state of requisition; and actually disposed of them in a manner more arbitrary, despotic and cruel, than was ever before heard of in any country. Their success in the horrible work of destruction has been astonishing. In their own country, they have pillaged, burnt and destroyed more than eighteen hundred cities and villages. Mr. Harper mentions a work published at Paris three years ago, in which it is computed, that during the revolution, exclusive of those who had been killed in arms, “two millions of persons had been massacred---of whom twenty-four thousand were ministers of the Gospel, two hundred and fifty thousand were women, and two hundred and thirty thousand were children.” Many of these murders were perpetuated in ways studiously contrived to add insult to agony, and torture to the utmost all the feelings of human nature. “Infants were carried to be drowned, stuck on the points of spears; and the hands of mothers stretched out for mercy to their tender babes, were chopped off.”
In their attacks upon other nations, they have been infinitely prodigal of human blood. Besides the carnage daily renewed in every field of battle over the widely extended regions, which have been the scenes of war; through their baneful influence in all the countries subjugated by their arms, or revolutionized by their intrigues, scaffolds have been erected, on which the blood of the worthiest citizens and truest patriots has been profusely shed. Every people, over whom they have gained an ascendancy, has been brought, in a greater or less degree, to fraternize with them in their crimes: the union has been cemented with blood. Guilt the most horrible, and misery the most extreme, have uniformly followed the footsteps of their revolutionary progress in other countries as well as in their own. These evils, extended alike by their victories and their intrigues, are now blasting many of the richest and finest portions of the globe. Nearly half Europe groans under French domination. Since the invasion of the Goths and Vandals, a similar scourge, so dreadful and so extensive, hath not befallen the civilized world.
When we think of the misery and mischief, the havoc and desolation which they have produced, are we not tempted to suspect whether divine Providence hath not withdrawn its superintendency from human affairs, and given the world up a prey to these execrable monsters? They have unhinged human society, and broken all the ties on which its security and happiness depended. Amidst the loudest professions of regard for the rights of man, they have audaciously violated all rights, human and divine, prostrated the law of nations in all its branches, and insolently trampled upon all the rules of morality. Innumerable are the decrees, by which they establish iniquity by law; by which they support schemes of murder and robbery, set men free from all restraint, and encourage them in giving loose to all the worst passions of their nature. Among every people, pretending to any degree of civilization, the marriage covenant has been generally deemed sacred and permanent; but the enlightened republicans of France spurn, as a mark of slavery, such confinement. These wise legislators have rendered the dissolution of this relation so easy, that a month’s warning “from either of the parties, is all that is required. In consequence of this law, it is said, that in the city of Paris alone, five hundred and sixty-two divorces took place in three months.” In a word, having renounced Christianity and returned to a state of heathenism, they have become, as might reasonably be expected of apostates, the very worst of heathen in their practice. Like those described by St. Paul in his first chapter to the Romans, they are given up to vile affections – full of envy; murder, debate, deceit, malignity, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventers of evil things – covenant-breakers, implacable, unmerciful. – From unquestionable documents, this appears to be the true character of the people with whom a miserably deluded faction among ourselves wish to fraternize. For the honour of human nature, I would not have depicted such licentiousness of principle and such atrocity of conduct---I would not have drawn such an odious character even of our enemies, were it not necessary to be known, in order to our taking proper measures for our own defense and safety.
In their conduct towards us, I have said, that they are influenced by the same spirit and views, which incited Rabshakeh and his master against Hezekiah; but in reality they are incomparably more criminal, than were the Assyrian plunderers. Though Hezekiah had given Sennacherib no just provocation, yet it is not probable that he had been particularly friendly to him, and his kingdom had the guilt of bordering upon the conquests of the Assyrian. But we are a thousand leagues distant from France, and have been enthusiasts in her favour---her only sincere friends and allies. [We are, and ought to be, ashamed to remember our demonstrations of joy at her victories. May God forgive the inconsiderate folly of his erring, though well meaning creatures!] Our government afforded her yet more substantial proofs of friendship, and in no instance ever offended. But, as our envoys expostulate, “to this distant, unoffending, friendly republic, what is the conduct and the language of France? Wherever our property can be found, she seizes and takes it from us; unprovoked, she determines to treat us as enemies; and our making no resistance, produces no diminution of hostility against us; she abuses and insults our government, endeavors to weaken it in the estimation of the people, recalls her own minister, refuses to receive ours; and when extraordinary means are taken to make such explanations, and such alterations in the existing relations of the two countries as may be mutually satisfactory, and may tend to produce harmony, the envoys who bear these powers are not received; they are not permitted to utter the amicable wishes of their country; but in the haughty style of a master, they are told, that unless they will pay a sum to which their resources scarcely extend, they may expect the vengeance of France, and like Venice, be erased from the list of nations; that France will annihilate the only free republic upon earth, and the only nation in the universe, which has voluntarily manifested for her a cordial and real friendship.”
We are told, that whilst hearing these things, the agent on the part of France manifested the most excessive impatience. He admitted the whole to be true; but in the genuine spirit of his government, contemning all the principles of justice and moral obligation, he went on to urge the power of the terrible republic, and to repeat the denunciation of its vengeance against us, unless, after suffering it to seize our property on the sea, we would not also surrender to it what we possess on the land.
Such was the first demand of the Assyrian conqueror upon Hezekiah. America will deserve to suffer, if she takes not warning from the ill consequences of his mean submission. The panic-struck king of Judah answered, Return from me, and that which thou layest upon me, I will bear. Three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold were the first requisition. To collect this sum, the king was compelled to empty all his treasures, to strip the house of God to the very doors; and after thus parting with his money to the perfidious tyrant, saw himself attacked and his dominions invaded by those very armies, for the withdrawment of which his money had been paid.
Why did he suffer himself to be thus duped and gulled? “Where,” says the pious Henry, “was Hezekiah’s courage? Where his confidence in God? Alas! May we not suppose that the very difficulties and embarrassments with which the operations of the American government have been encumbered for some years past, were experienced by Hezekiah? Among his own subjects, a numerous party were, in all probability, in favour of the enemy. Hezekiah had lately begun a great reformation; he had removed the high places, broken the images, cut down the groves, and exerted his whole authority in bringing back his people from idolatry to the worship of Jehovah. These measures of reformation must have given mortal offence to all the lovers of idolatry throughout the kingdom. Hezekiah had taken from them their gods, and what had they more? Being thus disgusted and exasperated against their own government, they were probably willing to exchange it for that of a foreign prince, under whom they knew that they would be encouraged and supported in their idolatry. Instead therefore of defending, they stood ready to betray their country, to surrender its strong holds and defenced cities to the enemy, and to facilitate his conquest. They were constantly magnifying the power of the great king, weakening the hands of the men of war, spreading terror and alarm among the people, and reproaching Hezekiah for his obstinacy in exposing the country to pillage and massacre, by not complying with the terms of the enemy. Sennacherib had great dependence upon this party in his favour. By them he was probably incited and encouraged to undertake the expedition. To strengthen and support this party, was his constant study. His object in every conference and negotiation, during the war, was to separate the people from the government, to excite mutiny among the soldiery, and insurrection among the citizens. When Hezekiah’s commissioners proposed that the conference should not be in the hearing of the people on the wall, their adversaries were the more earnest for making it as public as possible. Disregarding all the rules of decorum, they addressed themselves directly to the people, and made their communications, not to the government, but to the populace;--urging every motive, both of terror and allurement, to draw them off from their allegiance.
How far the same mean arts have been acted over again by the French rulers towards us, I need not say: their own agents acknowledge it, and vaunt of their success. They boast, that their party among us is so numerous, and their means of influence so powerful, that, in every event, they shall be able to throw the blame on the side of injured innocence. In what history can you find such unblushing impudence on the brow of guilt? It exceeds all the insulting language of the foul-mouthed, Rabshakeh.
But to every man who has the interest of his country at heart, how very alarming is this intelligence! Do we indeed thus totter on the brink of ruin?—At this eventful period, therefore, when, according to the statement of our worthy President, “all the old republics of Europe are crumbling into dust, when the monarchies of the old world are some of them fallen, and others trembling to their foundations; when our own infant republic has scarcely had time to cement its strength, or decide its own practical form; when these agitations of the human species have affected our people, and produced a spirit of party, which scruples not to go all lengths of profligacy, falsehood and malignity in defaming our government,”---in heaping the vilest slanders upon the First Magistrate of the Union, on all the enlightened and faithful men employed under him, the secretaries at home, the envoys abroad, the federal and patriotic members in the two houses of Congress; on the governors, judges, and other officers throughout the several states, who have distinguished themselves in supporting the wise and just measures of the general government---and lastly, on the ministers of religion, because they are considered as a bulwark against the spirit of faction, and for the preservation of order the union---at a time, when these violent efforts are made to render us a divided people, and facilitate the designs of our oppressors against us---at this alarming crisis, my hearers, you will permit me to call upon you by all that you hold dear in this world, to open your eyes to the gulf before you, the revolution which has been planned for you---a revolution which will infallibly destroy all your social blessings, your affection, esteem and confidence in one another; which will sweep away all your liberties, gradually wrest from you your possessions, strip you of your virtue and of your religion; and after transforming you into French demons, will give you up to be tormented through successive generations under the yoke of a foreign despotism. This is not unfounded declamation. The agents of the French Directory have avowed their design to our envoys; and their design comprehends every particular which I have now mentioned. The old republics of Europe, which they have already revolutionized, are at this moment suffering all the evils which I have described.
Having no other prey at present at hand, the arms of the French Republic are now stretched forth towards us; and the Chronicle of Boston, the Argus of New-York, the Aurora of Philadelphia, and some other ignes fatui [will-o’-the-wisp], are so many decoys to draw us within reach of her fraternal embrace. If you would not be ravished by the monster, drive her panders from among you. The editors, patrons and abettors of those vehicles of slander upon our government---those wet nurses of a French faction in the bowels of our country, have no longer any cloak for their guilt. The late intelligence from our envoys has unmasked the traitorous views of the whole party, and has recovered all honest citizens from the delusion which had been imposed upon them. They, who still persist in pleading the cause of France against our own government, in spreading jealousies and evil surmises of our constituted authorities, and in discouraging the means of defense, ought to be considered and treated as enemies to their country. They deserve to feel the righteous indignation of an injured and insulted nation. Brethren, mark them who cause such dangerous divisions among us, and let them wear the stigma of reproach due to the perfidious betrayers of their country.
Under almost every other government, the people have some real grievances of which to complain; but in this good land, there are no such grounds for complaint or disquietude. The inhabitants are the freest and happiest in the world: their government has resulted from their own matured wisdom and choice, and is liberty itself; their rulers are all created and raised to the stations which they fill, by the suffrages of the people; and for enlightened patriotism, wisdom, integrity and zeal for the public good, are unrivalled by any other set of rulers in any other nation under the sun. And are there those among us, all whose abilities are exerted in abusing and slandering these rulers, in undermining this government, in deceiving and misleading this people, and sowing divisions among them, in order to bring about their subjection to a foreign power? Of all traitors, they are the most aggravatedly criminal; of all villains, they are the most infamous and detestable.
If we have a spark of patriotism in our bosoms, my hearers, we shall reverence in the persons of our rulers, he majesty and sovereignty of our nation; and stand ready to repel, with a just indignation, every unworthy imputation upon them. Specially at this momentous crisis, we shall gather around the standard of our general government, show a marked disapprobation of those men and measures, which breathe a partiality for a foreign nation, and sternly discountenance whatever tends to impede o render suspected the administration of our executive. And as the danger approaches, and becomes more threatening, we shall form a phalanx about him, formidable and terrifying to all his enemies. At every hazard, we shall resolve, with our lives and fortunes, to support the independence of our country, and defend its honour. These things are the duties of all our citizens, of every man who has the happiness of being a member of our free and most excellent constitution. Our lives should be held no longer dear, when the dangers of our country call us to expose them in its defense. Whatever may befall us in the contest, we shall not be losers in the end. That Being who has made it our duty to die for our country, will also make it for our interest. Whilst obeying the calls of his word or providence, we shall be safe under his protection. What can harm us, if we be followers of that which is good? Numerous and powerful as our enemies are, we ought not to despond. Our situation is apparently far less hazardous, than was that of Hezekiah; yet he survived the threatened vengeance of the great king.
Towards the close of his dispute with Sennacherib, he received the letter mentioned in the text. Its contents were but the repetition of the things which Hezekiah had often heard before. They consisted of railings and invectives, of boasts and menaces. The writer vapours and blusters in all the turgidity of a French Jacobin: He vaunts of the countries which he had over-run, of the cities which he had taken, of the kings which he had conquered, and of the gods which he had captivated. Presuming the God of Hezekiah to be similar to the tutelary deities of those other nations, with blaspheming insolence he infers, that Jehovah himself could not prevent the capture of Jerusalem. “And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: And Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, who dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: Open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: And hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.” I know not whether, in the whole inspired volume, there be recorded another act of devotion which, taken in all its circumstances, is more solemn, striking and affecting than this. Here we behold the good man and the pious king making God his refuge and strong hold in the day of trouble. Menaced with the vengeance of his enemies, he hastens into the divine presence; he refers his cause to the common Father of men; he states his wrongs before the Judge of the whole earth; he implores aid from that Being in whose fight all nations are as the drop of the bucket, or the small dust of the balance. He pleads not his own merit or that of his people towards God; but he insinuates how much the honour of Jehovah himself was concerned in consequence of the reproaches and blasphemies of the enemy against him. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear; open, Lord, thine eyes and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.
With what unspeakable thankfulness, my brethren, should we reflect, that Hezekiah’s God is the professed object of our devotions---that we have been taught the good knowledge of this true and living God, and are allowed and encouraged to make him our resource and refuge under all our fears and dangers! How thankful too should we be, that instead of a French atheist or deist, the President of the United States is an exemplary Christian, who, like Hezekiah, hath called us into the house of God this day, that we may bring the cause of our injured and oppressed country before the great Ruler of the world, and by earnest, fervent supplication implore the interposition of his universal providence between us and our haughty and violent oppressors! They, like the Assyrian of old, are but the rod of his anger, and the staff in their hand is his indignation. It is He who hath sent them against an hypocritical nation and the people of his wrath. Through his permission they have been suffered to take the spoil and to take the prey, and to tread down many nations like the mire of the streets. In all this, they have been but the executors of the divine vengeance upon a guilty world. Howbeit they mean not so, neither doth their heart think so; but it is in their heart to cut off and destroy nations not a few---and with their hand to find as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs that are left, so they boast of having gathered all the earth, and having spread so general a terror, that there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord shall have performed his whole work of chastisement upon the nations, he will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the French republicans, and the glory of their high looks. He will make them to feel, that all their boasts are like that of the ax against him that heweth therewith, or of the saw against him that shaketh it, or of the rod against him that lifeth it up.
Hezekiah’s success at the throne of grace, should encourage and animate our devotions this day. God heard the prayer of his servant, noticed the letter which had been brought before him, and took upon himself the charge of thus answering the Assyrian tyrant: “I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult is come up into mine ears; therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.” So, O Lord God of Israel, let our enemies be turned back, disappointed and ashamed; and to thee shall be the glory!
1 See Gifford’s answer to Erskine. (Return)