William Jenks (1778-1866) graduated from Harvard in 1797. He was pastor of the First Congregational Church in Bath, ME (1805-1817) and a chaplain during the War of 1812. Jenks also was pastor of a church in Boston (1826-1845) and established free chapels for seamen in that city. The following election sermon was preached by Jenks in Massachusetts on May 31, 1820.
HIS EXCELLENCY JOHN BROOKS, ESQ.
HIS HONOR WILLIAM PHILLIPS, ESQ.
THE HONORABLE COUNCIL,
LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS,
MAY 31, 1820.
BY WILLIAM JENKS, A. M.
Minister of a Church in Bath, Maine, now resident in Boston.
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS.
House of Representatives,
May 31, 1820.
Ordered, That Messrs. Noble, of Williamstown, Humphries, of Dorchester, and Lincoln, of Boston, be a Committee to wait upon the Rev. William Jenks, to return him the thanks of this House, for his able and learned Discourse, this day delivered; and to request of him a copy for the press.
A true copy from the record……Attest,
BENJAMIN POLLARD, Clerk of the House.
THE present year will complete two centuries since the first colony of the pious Forefathers of New England embodied on these shores. Gratitude for the efforts of those venerable men and regard for their principles prompt us to notice such a period. The solemnities of this day assist the impression. Our Fathers consecrated by religious services their civil rights and blessings, and have transmitted to us the hallowed custom. Standing here, therefore, at the call of Providence, to address, on our most distinguished civil anniversary, the Constituted Authorities of that Commonwealth, which enjoys peculiarly the result of antient sufferings and labors in the cause of freedom; the Preacher will feel happy if he be able to transmit the views and feelings excited in his own mind by the subject contained in these words of the inspired volume—
2 COR. 3, 17.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
In making this assertion, the Apostle Paul had special reference to the distinctive features of the two divine dispensations, familiarly termed the Law and Gospel. The one he calls a covenant or dispensation of the Spirit, the other of the letter; and adds, the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Pursuing the comparison, he claims for the gospel an increased regard and a higher glory; for, if in various particulars honor had been bestowed on the system of commands, whose operation was fatal, it seemed fit that the benevolence of God displayed in later times should be acknowledged with every token of respect and joy.
In the process of his reasoning, he complains that the Israelites were unable to contemplate the grand design of the promulgation of the law by Moses, and asserts that their blindness will not be removed before they embrace the spiritual dispensation of Christ. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
These words I cannot regard in any other light, than as manifesting, in a general view, the prominent feature of the Gospel itself. From the exposition, therefore, of the celebrated Macknight, by which he would make the passage indicate only “a freedom of speech” in the Apostles themselves, when explaining the revelation entrusted to them, I feel compelled to dissent, and in agreement with the greater number of commentators, 1 both of Romish and Protestant communions, assign to it the meaning already affixed.
Considering the text, then, as asserting the liberal, filial spirit of the gospel, I would in the present discourse derive from it, and endeavour to illustrate and apply the proposition, that THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS EMINENTLY CONDUCIVE TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GENUINE LIBERTY.
In the first place, it vindicates the freedom of man in the concerns of religion.
But what is the freedom, to which, in the concerns of religion, man if entitled? Evidently, not a liberation from dependence on God, nor from the obligation of obedience to His requirements—the former of which is naturally, the latter morally impossible. Perfection in the Deity Himself excludes the possibility of doing wrong. To be permitted then to stray from the path of rectitude is no enviable liberty. To be as is our heavenly Father, must be regarded as well the height of happiness, as of perfection. With great propriety, therefore, is it said in the liturgy of that Church, from whose abuses only the founders of our Commonwealth dissented and removed, that the “service” of God “is perfect freedom.” 2 For, to use the words of judicious Hooker, 3 “Of Law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempt from her power; both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.” The authoritative voice of the Holy Scriptures asserts those to be free indeed, who are made free by Christ. Yet are they children and friends only as they observe His injunctions, and manifest His temper.
A cordial admission of obligation and accountability to God, and to Him alone, is essential to the idea of religious freedom. This relieves from the fear of man, recalls the mind to the contemplation of perfect rectitude, acknowledges the exhibition of that rectitude in revelation as the law and standard of right, and above all, delivers from the slavery of disordered passions and corrupt principles. It tends therefore to reduce the mind to order, harmony and duty; and, freeing it from the restraints of sin and error, enlarges its powers to their just expansion.
The ancient law given to the Israelites was not merely a declaration of eternal and unchangeable principles. Every part of it would then have been of perpetual obligation. Nor is it in such a view that the Apostle compares the two dispensations. Under each of them the great object of worship is the same. But the former covenant was encumbered with ceremonial observances, which the gospel abrogates. It severed the Israelites from the rest of the world, and consulted their benefit merely, as a nation. Its worship was local and restricted, and none could partake in it, but such as joined themselves to that peculiar people. Although the law of love was inculcated, as a rule of conduct toward a member of their own tribes, and occasionally toward the stranger, it is obvious to remark, that the result separated the Jews in affection as in fact from mankind at large; and though their system itself was confessedly introductory and imperfect, yet they could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished.
The religion of the gospel, that dispensation of the Spirit of God, is, on the contrary, enlarged and free. Agreeably to express prophecy, Christ is given for a light to the gentiles as well, as a glory to Israel. The burdensome observances of the Hebrew ritual are no longer binding on the conscience. Equal privileges in religion are offered to all mankind, first indeed to the Jew, but still to the Greek—barbarian, Scythian, bond and free. The spiritual kingdom of Christ knows no national distinctions. One is the Master of all its millions, and they all are brethren.
The prevailing law of this kingdom is love. And love worketh no ill to his neighbour—suffereth long, and is kind, envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and never faileth.
It is not then abundantly evident that, where this heavenly religion diffuses its blessings, its tendency is, to transform into its own image the character of the selfish and arrogant, the violent and impure? And if, while it instructs the mind concerning truths most essential and important, it fill at the same time the heart, to the exclusion of pride, malice, covetousness, indolence and sensuality, what remains that can obstruct human freedom in the concerns of religion?
But the design of this day’s solemnities, the illustration of our subject, and justice to the ennobling principles of our Forefathers demand that we attend in the second place, to the salutary efficacy of the Christian religion in things of civil concernment.
I am well aware that difficulties attend the discussion of this subject. Some arise from the alleged fact, that liberty has been oppressed and silenced by ecclesiastical establishments; that in no countries has civil freedom been overwhelmed more effectually than in those, wherein the priesthood, instituted for the service and advancement of religion, has attained a temporal ascendency and power. It is then asked triumphantly, if the spirit of intolerance and bigotry, of which reproach a full measure is poured on the heads of our venerated ancestors, who first established the polity of this Commonwealth, has ever shown itself more, than when were hear the loudest professions of religion.
But what does this prove? It argues nothing effectually against the doctrine of the text. Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Human nature, to say the least, is confessedly imperfect. The collision of separate and opposite interests will ever produce confusion. What men strongly desire they will strive with ardour to obtain – and if, in the chase of the honors or profits of the world, there have been found those, who prostrate on the same level things human and Divine, profane the sacred name of religion, by using it as a cloak to conceal extreme cupidity, and even while officiating at here hallowed altars, in secret sacrifice to ambition, avarice and pleasure, she is guiltless of their excesses. The cells of the Inquisition were never her abode, nor the purview of the “Holy Office” her domain. It was not she, who lighted the fires of Smithfield, nor has she been often found in Conclave. She was alike, I fear, a stranger to the voluptuous, classic Leo, and the sanctimonious Cromwell. Her code requires internal purity and practical virtue. Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report are the theme of her injunction and commendation. As well, then, might we charge upon the laws themselves the guild of a criminal, who falls under their just sentence, as upon religion the faults of those, whose lives evince, that they feel not its efficacy.
All men are subjects of the moral government of God. The simple acknowledgment of this principle virtually involves the whole system of duties and motives. There is no exception. No class or individual can claim to be exempted. The wealthy, who might bribe, the great and powerful who might intimidate a corrupt human judge or lawgiver, and the poor and abject, who might be thought beneath his notice, and whose rights or sufferings might attract no regard, are equal in the sight of our Divine Lawgiver and Judge. With Him, is no respect of persons.
Where these views prevail—and they must prevail wherever the religion of the gospel, bringing life and immortality to light, exerts its influence; there a responsibility to God will be felt. The selfish propensities will be checked and controlled by higher and nobler principles. It will be perceived that he who loves God, will love his brother also.
To establish, in this view of our subject, the doctrine of the text, it is not necessary to prove that inspiration is requisite in order to teach men their interest in establishing a recognition of civil rights. For this purpose, the mere love of power and hatred of control, prudently and intelligently directed, is generally sufficient. Heathens have had notions of liberty, and have established systems of legislation and government, from which the most enlightened nations of modern times have been proud to borrow both principles and exemplifications. It is, I conceive, incumbent on me only to maintain, that where the Christian religion has its genuine influence, it purifies legislation, checks the abuse of authority, and tends to liberate mankind from all oppressive exaction and degrading restraint.
Contemplate it in the civil ruler. He feels that he is a steward of God. He knows from the oracle of his daily consultation, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. The power lodged with him he regards as a sacred deposit. The government he exercises is an ordination of God, and he rules for Him. As a legislator, no partial or interested views are permitted to govern him. He shaketh his hands from holding of bribes. As a magistrate, while he despiseth the gain of oppressions, he will faithfully execute the laws, and exhibit himself a terror to the evil; but will also exert his influence for the praise of them that do well.
Contemplate it in the citizen or subject. If the ruler, raised apparently above the sway of ordinary motives, feel yet the obligation of religious motive, and be prompted to every salutary and honorable effort for the good he has been thus elevated; he who is subject to the ordinary operation of law feels on Christian principles bound to obey—to obey every lawful institution of man, for the Lord’s sake—as free, indeed; yet not using his liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as a servant of God.
If such, then, be the fruits of the Spirit, in all respects and among all orders of men beneficent and improving—must not the best interests of society be advanced, in proportion to the prevalence of the gospel? Its tendency is, to free the human mind from the shackles of ignorance and sin, from superstition, bigotry and false zeal—to inform it respecting human destination and duty—to exhibit in its just light the lovely and most venerable character of God, to reinstate man in His favor through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and to make his abode on earth introductory to his enjoyment of the felicity of heaven.
It will not be supposed, from the foregoing statement that the preacher inculcates the doctrine, that piety alone is to be regarded, as the sufficient qualification for the management of all the varied concerns of society. It must be obvious to all, that there are certain talents of indispensable necessity to everyone, who is invested with influence and power; information, without which he will be in perpetual hazard of mistake; sound wisdom and discretion, to enable him sagaciously to discern, and prudently to secure the public welfare.
The very idea of accountability to God for the employment of every talent demands the cultivation of the intellectual and moral powers, that we may serve Him with the first fruits—the best that we can offer. So thought our ancestors, when they provided schools. So prescribed the law of Moses, when it required, take ye wise men and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. So, after the lapse of a thousand years, an indignant prophet 4 denounces thus a righteous malediction in the name of his Lord: if ye offer the blind for sacrifice4, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Cursed be the deceiver, which voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing; for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts.
That the gospel affords the best practical code of international and private law, and is as worthy to sway the scepter of princes, as to guide the crosier, we have, at this enlightened period, the express avowal of a cotemporary monarch—a Monarch, 5 whose consistency of character seems capable of redeeming from the reproach of policy and “kingcraft” the uncommon stand he takes in the defense and propagation of the kingdom of Christ. And though that kingdom be not indeed of this world, and therefore not established by mere worldly efforts, but by the Divine Spirit, and an unearthly influence; yet that the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdom of Christ, is, pardon the source of my remark, “a consummation devoutly to be wished.” The Lord hasten it in his time!
With some inferences, applying the subject, and the address customary on this occasion I will conclude.
I. God has been gracious to this Commonwealth, both in the circumstances of its settlement, and in subsequent events.
The time of its settlement is memorable, as several of the nations of Europe had just recovered their long lost liberty in religion. Church establishments had been formed, and the defects or excellencies of them were amply developed by experience. A century had elapsed, from the first successful struggle for emancipation from the spiritual tyranny of Rome to the time, in which the exiles at Leyden were contemplating a removal to America. The abuse of ecclesiastical authority had driven them from the land of their nativity indeed, but they sojourned with a people, whom Commerce and their own necessities had taught the convenient principles of religious toleration, and had opportunity to learn some at least, of its instructive lessons.
Protestant nations for a considerable period had been claiming the privilege of thinking for themselves; and this privilege our Puritan Ancestors claimed also. Their characters were mostly formed in the school of adversity, and their virtue must be acknowledged to possess a hardihood but seldom seen. They were well acquainted with the rights, and seem to have been well disposed to practice the duties of subjects—but that human power should prescribe for them in the concerns of religion they could not brook, nor submit to the arbitrary exactions of corrupt ecclesiastical courts. They drank into the spirit of the gospel, and demanded liberty of conscience.
The English nation early claimed a share in the diffusion of Christian knowledge. It was not Luther, nor Zuinglius, but Wickliffe, and his martyred pupils in Bohemia, 6 who sowed first the seeds of reformation from Popery, and thus prepared the way for the growth of all those principles, the fruits of which succeeding generations gather. These seeds were disseminated from the precious Word of God. Nor is it easy to believe that there were not in the English nation, even from the time of the persecuted Lollards, many who mourned in secret, and prayed for times of freedom. Under the reigns of the 8th Henry, Edward and Elizabeth, the augmentation was of course rapid; a free communication was necessarily maintained with foreign protestants, especially during the arbitrary and cruel sway of Mary; and hence, with every advantage of religious instruction and discipline, our venerated ancestors were prepared to found their Commonwealth.
Do we wonder that, having themselves escaped from restrictions and persecutions, they should not readily adopt a tolerant system? Let the revered Pastor of their church at Leyden, the amiable and catholic Robinson, answer in their behalf. “It is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of antichristian darkness, and that perfection of light should break forth at once.” That this good and great man felt the expansive spirit of genuine religious liberty is evident from his exhortation to his flock. “He charged us,” says one of them, “before God and His blessed angels to follow him no further than he followed Christ; and if God should reveal anything to us by any other instrument of His, to be as ready to receive it as ever we were to receive any Truth by his ministry; for he was very confident the Lord had more Truth and Light yet to break forth out of His Holy Word—but exhorted us to take heed what we receive for Truth, and well to examine, compare and weigh it with other Scriptures before we receive it”—“words,” says the New England historian, 7 who records them, “almost astonishing in that age,” the age of the bigot James—proving their author “capable of rising into a noble freedom of thinking and practicing in religious matters, and even of urging such an equal liberty on his own people. He labors to take them off from their attachment to him, that they may be more entirely free to search and follow the Scriptures.” Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there, indeed, is liberty. Hence the testimony of Governor Winslow; “the primitive churches in the Apostolic age are the only pattern which the churches of New England have in their eye; not following Luther, Calvin, Knox, Ainsworth, Robinson, Ames, or any other, further than they followed Christ and His Apostles.” This disposition prepared the way for the tolerant and liberal spirit of succeeding times, and gradually led our ancestors to perceive, that a contrary disposition and conduct are as unscriptural as impolitic. The sword, which religion wields, is the sword of the Spirit, and this is the word of God.
Do we examine subsequent events, still has God been gracious to this Commonwealth. Among our privileges the general diffusion of science and literature demands a primary notice. “Would you prevent crimes,” said the philosophic jurist of Milan, 8 “let liberty be attended with knowledge.” On this principle the civil fathers of Massachusetts had been acting a century and half before he penned the sentence. They came for the enjoyment of freedom. But, deeply sensible that mere intellectual liberty, however precious, would prove inadequate of itself, without the cultivation of piety and virtue—and that, deprived of the salutary restraints of religion, intellectual liberty but panders for the passions—they founded the first and most important seminary of our whole United Republic, “for Christ and the Church.”
The doctrines of the Reformation, which had begun to display their political tendency before our ancestors left their country, and which, conspiring with new views of the inherent rights of mankind, produced in the first place the Commonwealth of England, and afterwards temperate restrictions of royalty at “the Revolution,” were always cherished in New England. Here they virtually originated our own revolutionary struggle, were sanctioned and established with the acknowledgment of the national independence, embodied in our bill of rights, and exemplified in the code of our laws. But in all the series of events, how kind toward us was the providence of God! Neither the perils of “the Restoration,” the tyranny of Andros, the hostile fleet of France, 9 which was expected to annihilate the rising glory of New England, nor the sanguinary conflict with the mother country were permitted to destroy the vine, which God had planted. With every difficulty He provided relief.
II. Two errors, of opposite tendency indeed, but equally pernicious, it becomes us sedulously to avoid. One is ingratitude to the Author of our distinctions, the other a vain and overweening estimate of our character and advantages. And, perhaps, of each of these we are equally in danger. Let their cure be found in the reflection, that we fall far below the just improvement of our accumulated facilities; and that, in the advancing emancipation of mankind, to be effected by the gospel, we shall lose even their esteem, if we be not devoted to God.
Some distinctions we may overrate. But the distinction, which arises from the prevalence among a people of scriptural religion and the free enjoyment of civil liberty can scarcely be prized too high. These are precious gifts of God, and demand not gratitude alone, but consecration to His glory. Even the delusions of self-love will here be unable to exaggerate the favor. Yet the equitable rule must apply; unto whomsoever much is given of them will much be required. But,
III. The continuance of our blessings depends on our own fidelity—fidelity to God, to our own institutions, and to the best interests of our posterity.
Nations experience in this world the final ministration of providential awards. Only in the world to come can the individual behold the Divine system toward himself completed. Righteousness tendeth to life—and exalteth a nation. Sin is the reproach, and naturally effects the ruin of any people. What a course have the governments of this world hitherto run! Comparative purity in youth conducted to vigorous manhood. Jeshurun 10 then wantons in prosperity. The seeds of moral disease germinate, and a baneful harvest evinces the fatal tendency of corruption. To evoke the shades of departed states and empires is not needful here. They flit across the pages of history, both sacred and profane; and every citizen of our Republic, who addresses his country on the value of her dear bought liberty, compels them to reveal the causes of their fall. To his imagination the stagnant pool and loathsome haunts of reptiles, where once towered the walls of Babylon, testify the vengeance threatened on human pride. He questions Athens, and Rome and Carthage, and the sepulchral voice is heard to echo, “faction, ambition, avarice.” He asks the ruins of Jerusalem, and seems to hear her answer from the dust, “rebellion against my God, and rejection of His Anointed.”
The warnings of all ages, then, admonish us of our duty, and the improvements of all ages enlighten us to perform it. There has been a progress of genuine liberty in religion and in civil concerns. Nobles were once the asserters of human rights. But they meant their own; and while they wrested the Magna Charta from an imbecile despot, their vassals were slaves. But the rights, the wealth, the influence of nobles have at length migrated to citizens and yeomen. In more than one instance regal prerogative has been limited and curtailed by conventional provisions. Aristocratic insolence has been checked. Privileged orders sustain an investigation of their immunities. Divine Truth beams amidst the chaos of revolutions, and gradually reveals the principles of order and humanity. It shines on Africa and India, and breaks the bondage of caste and the chains of slavery. Wherever it diffuses its light, it raises the female character to a just elevation, leaving it by its excellence to illustrate Christian liberty. It visits the tribes of our own forests, and rears to civilization, science and religion the youth of Choctaws and Cherokees, redeeming the pledge of our pious ancestors, and fulfilling their sacred errand hither. The Bible spreads its salutary influence, and even the Russian peasant hails a dawn like his own northern Aurora. The Bible will spread its salutary truths, and no American Sparta, clamorous for “the rights of men,” will be long able to manacle her degraded Helots, or withhold instruction from them. Salutary Truth will still advance, will expel tyranny from thrones, prevent it in legislators and the people, will break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free.” 11 It will be seen, that licentiousness is not liberty—nor because one tyrant falls, that the liberty of a nation is necessarily established. True liberty is built on real virtue, not that alone, which Montesquieu establishes 12 as the principle of republican government, and terms political, but that which is founded on principles of the gospel. The patient labour of centuries may be needed to erect the fabric. One day of presumption and negligence may level it with the ground.
To protract the continuance and efficiency of our free institutions, or to advance the Commonwealth and Nation to their highest improvement, nothing seems more essential and promising than a sacred care of the education of youth. Happy it has been for ourselves, that our ancestors resolved thus in their wisdom, and were consistent in practice; and happy will it be for our posterity, if, in the true spirit of the gospel, their fathers train them up in the way they should go.
Would we then perpetuate our liberties, let us impress on the minds of our children and on our own, the vital importance of our holy religion—a religion, which is not a code of ceremonial injunctions, or merely of civil precepts, but points continually at the heart and life—a religion produced by the Holy Spirit of God, tending perpetually to the advancement of His Glory, operating by peace on earth and good will toward men, and assimilating the character of its votaries to that of the just made perfect.
His Excellency, the Governor, will be pleased to accept a cordial congratulation on the general condition of our Country and Commonwealth. The elective principles, which so early flourished in Massachusetts, now rule a Nation. Two centuries have at length witnessed their growth; and it will be no trivial distinction of your Excellency’s administration, that under it these principles have expanded into the legitimate proportions of a liberal constitution of government, now adopted as the Palladium of a Sister State, free, sovereign and independent.
That a question of such magnitude and importance, as the separation of Maine from Massachusetts, was discussed with so much magnanimity, and its erection into an organized civil community effected with so much ease and mutual good-will, as it is indicative of the progress of genuine principles of liberty, may well be a theme of this day’s respectful congratulation. And I trust your Excellency will allow the preacher, whose recollections of that part of his beloved country are mingled with many tender and grateful emotions, to express the fervent wish, that it may flourish in the hallowed principles, in which it has been nurtured, and with its parent Commonwealth enjoy the increasing blessings, which are promised to later ages.
His Honor, the Lieutenant Governor, in these felicitations of the day, will accept the tribute of respect for a professed attachment to those views and feelings, which pervaded the earlier periods of our history, and of gratitude for that beneficent and effective patronage, to which our charitable institutions bear witness. Descended from two of the most distinguished Ministers 13 of the gospel among the Puritan Forefathers of New England, your Honor is accustomed to survey their characters with tenderness and respect. May you see their piety revive, and blend itself with the more enlarged views and more graceful urbanity of modern times.
The Members of the Honorable Council, and of the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives demand the respectful attentions of the preacher.
To you, Gentlemen, is confided the execution of no easy task. Temporary expedients and feigned reasons of state may appear the height of wisdom to the shortsighted cupidity of the worldly; but religion offers the solid foundation of trust in God, introduces to His counsels, enables us to “act upon His plan,” and establishes the best claim to the esteem and confidence of mankind. Peculiarly necessary in free states, where ambition has a wider scope, exercises more power, enlists more passions in its service, and exerts a stronger influence; where habits soon affect the laws, and government derives its stability from opinion—need I say, Gentlemen, it asks your support? I could hardly be forgiven, were I not to say, its claims are as imperative on our legislators now, as on their venerable fathers. Yet it is not the guard of human enactions, nor the authority of civil law, much less investment with civil power, which she so much requires, as the almost irresistible power of personal example. The evil bow before the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
If the principles assumed in this discourse be correct, the power to legislate is a talent, for which an account is to be rendered. The consideration of this will impress deeply the mind of a conscientious legislator, and render the discharge of duty momentous. Nor are laws to be estimated by their numbers and penalties, but by the existing need of them, their intrinsic excellence, and their conformity to the unchanging principles of moral rectitude. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty—a freedom from every bias, that might else prevent and misguide the mind, or corrupt the heart. May you partake largely of the sacred influence.
A word to this audience, and I close.
We have reviewed some distinguished favors of God toward our ancestors and ourselves. What people have greater reason than we to be devoutly thankful, and conscientiously vigilant? You are not assembled to do honor to the birth day of an arbitrary sovereign, or to cringe before his satraps; but to commemorate the beginning of your own civil year—the entrance on office of those, who are by your own suffrage made dispensers to you and your children of the blessings of freedom. Let me exhort you, then, to guard against your dangers. The Lord is with you while ye be with Him. His blessings, which maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow therewith, will then alone be your inheritance and that of your families and posterity. But remember if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. Let us rather labor to emancipate ourselves from all impediments and restraints of error, ignorance, prejudice and vice; and renouncing solemnly our sins, approach Him in the Great Mediator, while He may be found, professing, with the Hebrew Psalmist, I will walk at liberty, for I seek Thy precepts.
1. See Rhemish Version, note; Whitby and Doddridge, in loco, and Schleusner, art. IINEYMA. (Return)
2. Collect for Peace. (Return)
3. Ecclesiast, polity, b. I. (Return)
4. Malachi. (Return)
5. The Emperor of Russia. (Return)
6. Jerome of Prague and John Hus. (Return)
7. Prince, in his N. Engl. Chronol. (Return)
8. M. de Beccaria, on crimes and punishments. Ch. 42. (Return)
9. Under the Duke D’Anville in 1746.(Return)
10. Heb. the upright, or perfect. (Return)
11. “So spreading may be the spirit for the restoration and recovery of long lost national rights, that even the Cortes of Spain may re-exist, and resume their ancient splendor, authority and control of royalty.” Thus wrote the late President Stiles in 1783. In 1820, this is history. He adds, “The same principles of wisdom and enlightened politics may establish rectitude in public government throughout the world.” (Return)
12. Esprit des Loix. (Return)
13. Rev. George Phillips, first minister of Watertown, and Rev. John Wilson, first minister of Boston. (Return)