Front Page Titles (by Subject) 25: George Duffield, A SERMON PREACHED ON A DAY OF THANKSGIVING - Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. Vol. 1 (1730-1788)
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25: George Duffield, A SERMON PREACHED ON A DAY OF THANKSGIVING - Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. Vol. 1 (1730-1788) 
Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, Foreword by Ellis Sandoz (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). Vol. 1.
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A SERMON PREACHED ON A DAY OF THANKSGIVING
GeorgeDuffield (1732-1790). A Presbyterian, Duffield studied at the Academy of Newark and graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1752. His father—who was of French Huguenot extraction, his name anglicized from Du Fielde—and his mother had migrated from the north of Ireland to settle near Pequea, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. From 1757 until 1772 Duffield ministered in Big Spring, Carlisle, and Monaghan, frontier areas constantly subject to Indian attack. He himself led his parishioners in Carlisle on expeditions against the Indians. He then became pastor in Philadelphia of the Third, or Pine Street, Church, a post he kept (amid interruptions for chaplain service during the war, when the British put a price on his head) until his death.
Theologically, Duffield was a New Light Presbyterian, and politically, he identified himself with the boldest proponents of independence. His theological position, as a partisan of the views of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, who favored a converted ministry and revivalism, had caused acrimonious conflict in Carlisle. Worse, in Philadelphia, Old Side religious views and Tory politics at first predominated, and his ministry at Pine Street Church had a stormy beginning when he found the building locked against him. He forced the door open and held service anyway. When a British magistrate appeared and demanded that the congregation disperse, he was physically ejected for disturbing divine worship. Duffield and some of his supporters were then jailed for causing a riot.
Duffield was popular with the members of the Continental Congress, who attended his services when in Philadelphia. Among them was John Adams, who wrote of “the genius and eloquence of Duffield.” He served as chaplain (with Reverend William White) of the Congress, became a trustee of the College of New Jersey, and was appointed the first clerk of the General Assembly.
The sermon reprinted here was given at the Pine Street Church on December 11, 1783, in thanksgiving for the restoration of peace after the Revolution.
An event of such magnitude and importance, as that which has occasioned our convening to day, accomplished in so short a space of time, and with so small a share of difficulty in comparison of what might have been expected, is one of those occurrences in the kingdom of providence that command the admiration of every observer. And whilst it affords an irrefragable argument (to convince even an atheist) that the Most High ruleth over the affairs of men, and raiseth up, and casteth down, at his pleasure; demands also our warmest gratitude to that God, who has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.
With a view therefore to assist in this delightful service; permit me to invite your attention to those emphatical words of the Prophet.
“Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children!”
This passage, it must be confessed, has a manifest respect to that happy period, generally termed the latter day glory; when the various nations of the earth, formerly stiled gentiles, and yet in darkness, shall in a sudden and surprizing manner, be converted to the knowledge and obedience of Christ: And the Jews, so long rejected of God, shall by an admirable display of divine power and grace, be gathered home from their dispersion, as in one day; and being formed into a people in their own land, shall become the most remarkable and leading part of the christian church, in activity and zeal for their God, and for Jesus the Saviour, their then acknowledged Messiah. The former of these events appears designed, by the earth bringing forth in a day; and the latter, by a nation viz. the Jewish, being born to God at once. Both which, taken together, will constitute that joyous state of affairs, which the apostle terms life from the dead. (a) But as the prophet has evidently in view to awake our attention to the hand of God, in his works of wonder among the children of men: and it is not without example in sacred record, to accommodate passages to similar events (b) ; the importance of that event we celebrate to day; and the remarkable interposition of the providence of God, so manifestly displayed therein, will I trust, sufficiently justify my applying the passage before us to the present occasion (c). To which also, it appears with peculiar propriety adapted. For who indeed hath heard such a thing? who, but a few years back, would have believed the report, had a prophet himself declared it? his credentials, at least, and marks of authority, had first been carefully scann’d with a critical eye. Who since time began, hath seen such events take place so soon? The earth has indeed brought forth, as in a day. A nation has indeed been born, as at once. It has not been Israel’s forty years of tedious wilderness journey; nor Rome’s, or the United Belgic provinces, long continued scene of arduous, dubious struggle: But almost as soon as our American Zion began to travail; and without experiencing the pangs and pains which apprehensive fear expected; she brought forth her children, more numerous than the tribes of Jacob, to possess the land, from the north to the south, and from the east to the yet unexplored, far distant west: That with great propriety, may we hail every friend of liberty, on this auspicious day, in the language nearly following our text; rejoice ye, with America, and be glad with her, all ye that love her, rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourned for her. For thus saith the Lord; behold, I will extend peace to her, like a river, and glory, like a flowing stream. Here then, as from one of those hills from whence the tents of Jacob were viewed of old, let us look back, on what God hath done; and contemplate the prospect he opens before us. And may he, in whose hand are the hearts of the children of men, inspire every breast with a grateful sense of his goodness, so liberally bestowed through the whole. The British monarch had formed a design (for actions speak louder than words) to reduce these states, then British colonies, into absolute vassalage. A venal Parliament had approved the unrighteous purpose; and passed a decree to bind us in all cases, both civil and religious, to the obedience of such laws as they might see meet to enact. Some have ascribed this extravagant conduct to the same spirit of jealousy, which once influenced the councils of Egypt against the house of Joseph; lest waxing too powerful, they might break off their connection, and pursue a separate interest of their own. Pharaoh, indeed, might have reason to fear, because Israel were an entirely different people; and in their religion and manners separated far from the people of the land. But in the present case, though the court of Britain appear carefully to have copied the Egyptian model; and their measures have produced a similar event; yet, as the people of these states were the same as the people of Britain, their religion and manners the same; and no disposition to separate from them had ever appeared: But an attachment, even to enthusiastic fondness, had always obtained; it must have required an exorbitant share of infatuation to have raised a suspicion so high, as to produce the spirit and zeal that directed the British cabinet. To raise a revenue, and bring America to bear her proportion of the national debt has been assigned as the motive. America, by centring her trade in Britain, contributed her liberal share, nor had she ever withheld her blood or her treasure when requisitions were made; that even malevolence itself had been nonplussed from thence to derive a plea, unless through a mad desire to take by compulsion, what would otherwise be cheerfully given. It seems therefore most probable, his Britannic majesty wished to increase the power of the crown, so as to wrest the very shadow of liberty out of the hands of all his subjects, and reign an absolute monarch; and for this end began where he hoped, by bribes and craft, to cloak his design under the cover of parliamentary sanction. It may be, he desired to urge America to arms; that being vanquished (which seems to have been taken as a granted point) and her principal men, and all who should dare to oppose his views, having either fallen in the field, or been executed as traitors, or constrained to fly to some foreign land; the whole of the country, with the subdued, dastardly inhabitants that remained, might revert to the crown. This, with it’s native consequences of American lords and vassals, all at the monarch’s pleasure, must soon have weighed down the liberty of Britain. Or, perhaps he expected to intimidate into submission, by the appearance of a determined military force. This charity would fondly persuade us to admit, as being the least wicked of the two. And in that case, an host of placemen and pensioners, with their influence among a people, destitute of spirit and subdued by threats; though not so suddenly, would yet as certainly have produced the desired effect: And finally imposed the same humiliating terms on Britain herself. But whatever might be the motive, America was marked out, for servile submission, or severe subjugation: and the power of Britain employed to accomplish the end. A day now rose, lowering thick with dark and heavy clouds. A scene now opened, painful to the mind only to review. On the one hand, to resign every dearest birthright privilege; and bow down unconditional to foreign masters, from whom we had nothing to expect, but sovereign contempt, and heavy burdens imposed; who, by their remote situation, could neither see our calamity, nor partake in our sufferings. Or on the other hand, to wage war with the most formidable power on earth, that had been for ages a terror to the nations; and had lately risen into a state of grandeur and glory far surpassing all her former greatness. A nation long inured to war: Her fleets commanding the ocean: Her troops numerous and veteran; and in martial deeds, famed as inferior to none: Her wealth immense: Her resources many: And her pride and mistaken sense of honor prompting her to exert every nerve, to secure a compliance with her claims and demands. Hard alternative! to resign liberty, or wage this hazardous war. And yet none other remained. America had her numerous husbandmen, her merchants and mechanics; and her sons of the learned professions, and students in every science. Her inhabitants were many: But untaught in the policy of courts and cabinets; and strangers from the art of war: And divided into different colonies, under different forms of government, had scarce ever communicated sentiments on a single point. Armies she had none; nor a single ship of war to protect her coast. Arms and ammunition had never been her care; and her money scarce sufficient for common occasions. Resources ’tis true there were; but as the precious metal lies hid in the unsought-for oar, they remained unexplored and unknown. In this situation, shall she dare to provoke the vengeance of Britain? a stoical observer would have pronounced it madness. But Liberty was the prize. She chose “Freedom or Death” as her motto; and nobly resolved on war with all it’s horrors; that at least, her last expiring groan might breathe forth freedom. Already had Britain planted her baleful banner on our coast; and her proud insulting flag had possessed our harbours. Her oppressive edicts had gone forth; and her naval and military strength were combined to enforce obedience. As the careful mariner watches the heavy gathering cloud, and dreads the approaching storm; America, with anxiety beheld, and waited the event. Prudence would have seemed to dictate an early resistance to manifest hostile designs; nor suffer an avowed enemy to every privilege to entrench in quiet, and strengthen themselves in a capital town (a). Nor was America blind to the measure: but that God, who so early espoused her cause, that her innocence in the case, and her reluctance to arms, might be evident to all, withheld her from the deed; and left Britain, on Lexington’s ever-memorable day, to open the scene of war. Quick as the flash of lightning glares from pole to pole, so sudden did a military spirit pervade these then united colonies; but now, blessed be God, confederated, established states. The peaceful husbandman forsook his farm; the merchant relinquished his trade; the learned in the law dismissed their clients; the compassionate physician forgot his daily round; the mariner laid aside his compass and quadrant; the mechanic resigned his implements of employment; the sons of science ceased their philosophic pursuits; and even the miser half neglected, for a time, his gold and his gain, and the griping landlord his rents. All prepared for war, and eagerly flew to the field. The delicate female herself forgot her timidity; and glowing with patriot zeal prompted the tardy to arms; and despised and reproached the lingerer that meanly loitered behind. Nor were those of the sacred order wanting to their country, when her civil and religious liberties were all at stake: But as became faithful watchmen, they blew the trumpet on the walls of our Zion; and sounded an alarm for defence. From then, standard was pitched against standard; and the battle was fought with various success, from the east to the west, and from the north to the south; and the field and the forest, the hills and the vallies, the shore and the inland parts, have all heard the shoutings of the warrior, and the clang of arms, and seen garments rolled in blood; and summer’s scorching heat, and winter’s parching cold, borne testimony to American perseverance and valour. Nor was military prowess only given. He that put of the spirit of Moses on the elders of Israel, raised up senators, and guided them in council, to conduct the affairs of his chosen American tribes (b) ; and though like the Jewish congregation of old, the language of murmur and complaint has been heard in our land; and we have had our Korahs and Dathans, whose endeavours have been to weaken the hands of our rulers; depreciate their merit, and lessen their esteem in the eyes of the people; yet (I hesitate not to pronounce it) generations yet unborn will look back with wonder; and venerate the memories, and long perpetuate the names of those who guided the helm through the storm; nor sunk dismayed, whilst so furious an Euroclydon of innumerable difficulties lashed so sore, and lay so long upon us; but have at length, by the good hand of our God upon them, brought the billow-beaten vessel of public affairs safe into harbour. These, posterity will admire and revere; and wish to have seen the day when those men lived on the earth. A day, which commanded the attention of states and kingdoms, far and wide. And as Joshua’s day arrested the sun in his course, the nations stood still in silent surprize, to see the balance of war so nearly poized, between contending parties so unequal. Fondly, would the spark of humanity within have led them to aid the American cause. Their wish was all they durst give: For, they dreaded the omnipotent arm of Britain; nor dared to awake her resentment. The monarch of France alone was found, whose generous zeal for the rights of humanity inspired him, beyond the power of every meaner consideration. Solemn ties had bound him, to consult the good of the people over whom he was placed: Nor could he have answered to his God, his conscience, or his kingdom, to have involved the nation in the calamities of an arduous, hazardous war, had no prospect of advantage risen into view. God, who had early designed him for distinguished honor; and raised him to the throne, to establish his name and his glory, as lasting as the annals of time, as the Protector of the rights of mankind, had therefore, by a firm decree, united the interest of America and France; that his majesty might be just to his conscience, his people, and his God, whilst indulging the ardent glow of his magnanimous breast, in affording to the distressed a vigorous aid: And his fleets and his armies were embarked in our cause. Let detraction therefore be silent, nor object the influence of interest, to sully the generous deed. God has connected duty and interest, by indissoluble bonds; nor may either, of right, assume the name alone. Ancient prejudices, instilled by Britain, seemed to forbid connection with a nation, we had long been taught to consider faithless, pusillanimous, and cruel. The generosity of France recovered the mind to judge by a candid scale. And as a mutual intercourse increased our acquaintance, the scales of ignorance fell from our eyes; the mist of prejudice vanished: And America found herself united to the most enlightened civilized nation on earth; and rejoiced in an alliance, cemented, not by interest only, but the strong additional bonds of cordial affection. An alliance, which may that God whose watchful eye guards the affairs of men, perpetuate unimpaired, while sun and moon shall endure. The citizens and subjects of both nations embraced as brethren; and fought side by side, with united hearts and hands, in the then made common cause. Their only strife was, who should display the noblest deeds; and render themselves most worthy each other’s esteem. America’s day, the morning of which had lowred with heavy clouds, began to brighten a pace; and it’s hurrying hours hastened their way to a noon tide glow. The justice of her cause; the influence of her great ally; and the insults and injuries experienced by other nations, from British arrogance, procured her still farther support; and narrowed the distance to the object of her wish. Britain saw, with indignation: And in firm alliance with every infernal power (for, from heaven she dared not expect; nor would any on earth, Hesse, Anspach, and savages excepted, afford her aid) she resolved on utmost vengeance: And as a tyger in the forest, taken in the toiles, exerted her every effort. Nor need I here recount Monmouth, Cowpens by Catawba, or Eutaw, with the many sore fought days on the land; or the briney ocean, repeatedly stained with the generous blood of war, or the ravages that desolated the south; or the devastation and ruin that ranged along our coast; whilst their ruthless savage allies, to the eternal infamy of those who employed them, drenched the wide frontier with the warless blood of helpless women and babes. These deeds of Britain are written with the pen of remembrance on the minds of all. They are engraved, as with the point of a diamond on a rock, on the pillars of time; and handed down in the faithful historic page, shall long be read by ages yet to come. Nor shall Carolina or Georgia, New-York or Virginia, Philadelphia, Rhode-Island, or Boston, be named, but grateful acknowledgments shall rise of the kind deliverance afforded. And oft shall the traveller turn aside to survey the seat of Glocester and York in Virginia, and view the spot, ever to be remembred, where the great decisive event took place; and read inscribed on the memorative marble (a) , the important victory there obtained. The inhabitant, instructed from father to son, shall bear him company, and recount the various parts of the scene.
On this point, the blood-stained British general, Lord Cornwallis, held his garrison. Yonder the great Washington & illustrious Rochambeau made their first approach. Across that rivulet, and through that valley, ran their first parallel; and where now that range of buildings stands, they drew their second. There stood a redoubt, carried by cool, determined Gallic bravery: And there the Americans stormed and conquered. Here, encaved in the brow of the bank, the Britons met, to hold their dark and gloomy councils; in that part of the river the Charon was set on fire. And yonder, across the water, the generals Weedon and Choissey hemmed in the imprisoned British ranks. There the French and American troops formed a glittering lane: And on yonder plain the numerous garrison piled their arms.
The listening child, led forth in his father’s hand, shall hear him relate; and repeat it over again to his little companions. And they also shall rejoice in that great event, which struck Britain with terror and despair; and led on to that happy restoration of peace, for which, to day, we give thanks to our God. For, according to this time shall it be said of these United States, what hath God wrought for them? Great indeed, is the salvation he hath shown! And great the obligations we are under to praise! For, had we failed in our just attempt to secure our invaluable rights, America’s choicest blood had flowed in liberal streams: And her most valuable citizens, throughout the states, had expired by halters and in gibbets. The daring patriot, whose zeal for his country had led him, with his life in his hand, to take a seat in the great council of the states, or in legislation, or administering justice; or, who had led in the field, in his country’s cause: These had been led forth the first, in haughty triumph, amidst ten thousand insulting scoffs, as the victims of insatiable vengeance. Nor only these; but all who had dared to follow their councils, and abett the cause for which they contended; nor a single character worth notice left remaining, that dared to breathe the language of freedom. And the paths of life had now been thin of the many virtuous citizens convened to day, throughout these states, to give thanks on this happy occasion. America had been enriched indeed; and her soil made fat with the blood of her children. Made fat, not for the rightful owners; but to pamper the lusts of tyrannical landlords, sharing the country among themselves: The surviving former possessors, only vassals at pleasure, and slaves to their lordly masters. This, my friends, is not a flight of fancy; or apprehensive imagination run wild: It is founded in just observation; and what bitter experience would have taught, but taught too late, had our enemy prevailed. But blessed be God, with Israel of old we may take up our song; “blessed be the Lord who gave us not as a prey to their teeth. Blessed be the Lord, the snare is broken, and we are escaped.” We cried unto him in the day of our distress. He heard our intreaties; and hath brought us forth into a large place; and established our rights; and opened before us a glorious prospect. May wisdom be given, to esteem and improve the invaluable blessing. Here has our God erected a banner of civil and religious liberty (a) : And prepared an asylum for the poor and oppressed from every part of the earth. Here, if wisdom guide our affairs, shall a happy equality reign; and joyous freedom bless the inhabitants wide and far, from age to age. Here, far removed from the noise and tumult of contending kingdoms and empires; far from the wars of Europe and Asia, and the barbarous African coast; here shall the husbandman enjoy the fruits of his labour; the merchant trade, secure of his gain; the mechanic indulge his inventive genius; and the sons of science pursue their delightful employment, till the light of knowledge pervade yonder, yet uncultivated, western wilds; and form the savage inhabitants into men. Here also, shall our Jesus go forth conquering and to conquer; and the heathen be given him for an inheritance; and these uttermost parts of the earth, a possession. Zion shall here lengthen her cords, and strengthen her stakes; and the mountain of the house of the Lord be gloriously exalted on high. Here shall the religion of Jesus; not that, falsely so called, which consists in empty modes and forms; and spends it’s unhallowed zeal in party names and distinctions, and traducing and reviling each other; but the pure and undefiled religion of our blessed Redeemer: here shall it reign in triumph, over all opposition. Vice and immorality shall yet here, become ashamed and banished; and love to God, and benevolence to man, rule the hearts and regulate the lives of men. Justice and truth shall here yet meet together, and righteousness and peace embrace each other: And the wilderness blossom as the rose, and the desart rejoice and sing. And here shall the various ancient promises of rich and glorious grace begin their compleat divine fulfilment; and the light of divine revelation diffuse it’s beneficent rays, till the gospel of Jesus have accomplished it’s day, from east to west, around our world. A day, whose evening shall not terminate in night; but introduce that joyful period, when the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah, shall be restored; and with them, the fulness of the gentile world shall flow to the standard of redeeming love: And the nations of the earth, become the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour. Under whose auspicious reign holiness shall universally prevail; and the noise and alarm of war be heard no more. Nor shall there be any thing to hurt or destroy, or interrupt the tranquility of men, through all the wide dominions of this glorious prince of peace. How pleasing the scene! How transporting the prospect! And how thrice happy they, whom God has honored, as instruments in the great work now brought to pass, subservient to these important events! May the blessings of heaven surround them; and the honor and esteem of a grateful country attend them through life. May the names and memories of those, oh my country! who have planned your measures, and guided your councils through a wilderness of innumerable difficulties, and brought your affairs, by the blessing of God, to a happy conclusion, may they ever be had in kind remembrance. Errors and mistakes may have been: But it is [a] matter of wonder and praise, that whilst treading an unknown, a difficult and dangerous path, their mistakes and errors have been so few. Surely the hand of God was in it, to guide and guard their way. And let the illustrious Washington, the Joshua of the day, and admiration of the age; who, inspired from above with every military endowment, to command the American arms; and great in the field beyond example, retires still greater, to the humble character of a private citizen, among the citizens of the states; let him live perpetual in the minds and the praises of all. Aid here, ye his highly honored fellow citizens, aid feeble fame with her hundred wings and tongues, to proclaim his worth: And let time, on his full and ever rolling stream, convey down through every age, the unsullied remembrance of the patriot, the hero and citizen combined, and deliver his name and his praise to the unbounded ocean of immortal esteem. And from the commander in chief down to the faithful centinel, let the officer and soldier who have bravely offered their lives; and nobly dared death and danger in the bloody field, on the horrid edge of the ranks of war, be remembred with kindness. Let their services of hardship, toil and danger be never forgot: But may they ever experience a kind attention from their fellow-citizens; and a faithful reward from their country, whose rights they have so firmly defended. Let their military garb and character ever command esteem. Let their wounds and their fears plead their cause and extenuate their foibles; and the residue of their exhausted days be crowned with honor and ease. With these let also be joined in never dying remembrance, a Warren, a Montgomery, a Biddle embraced by the briney waves, a Macpherson and a Laurens, in the bloom of youth, fallen in the bloody field, in their country’s cause; with the countless train of martyrs for American freedom, who, from the ocean and the land, from prison-ships and jails, have sealed with their lives, their attachment to her cause. These—these—number them not of the dead. They are enrolled in the list of glory and fame; and shall live immortal, beyond the power of death and the grave. Bind their brows, oh ye American daughters, haste ye, haste ye, bind their brows with never-fading laurel, and glittering crimson wreaths; and let the evening song and noon-day recital perpetuate their deeds and their fame; while the silent tear stealing from the eye, shall testify how dear their memory and how high their esteem. And whilst the curse of Meroz remains on lasting record, for those who withheld their aid, let the blessings of all rest on every friend of liberty, who willingly offered himself, when his country’s necessity called him to the field: And on all who have cheerfully borne and suffered in it’s cause. Nor let our great and generous ally, who afforded an early and vigorous aid, be forgot. But let every American lip pronounce a “Vive le Roi,” and every heart conspire, “long may his most Christian majesty, Lewis the Sixteenth,” long may he live, a blessing, and blessed, on earth; and late resign an earthly crown, to shine in brighter glory, and wear a crown immortal, among the blessed above. And may his subjects ever be embraced as brethren and dearest friends who have fought our battles, and bled in our cause; and partiality here held worthy of praise. Nor may a due esteem ever be wanting to the United Netherland States, whose heart and endeavours were with us; or to the court of Spain for assistance afforded; but be generously paid to all who have aided to secure our rights. And whilst, with a grateful sense of their services done, we pay deserved honours to those whom God has honored, to bear a part in the great work performed; let every heart adore the God of goodness in all: And every lip, and every life, proclaim his praise. ’Tis he, the sovereign disposer of all events, hath wrought for us: and brought the whole to pass. It was he, who led his Israel of old, by the pillar and the cloud, through their wilderness journey; wherein they also had their wandrings; ’twas he the same, presided over our affairs; directed our councils, and guided our senators by the way. ’Twas he, who raised a Joshua to lead the tribes of Israel in the field of battle, raised and formed a Washington, to lead on the troops of his chosen states, to final conquest, and endued him with all his military patience, perseverance, prowess and skill; and admirably preserved his life and his health, through all the danger and toil. ’Twas he, who in Barak’s day spread the spirit of war in every breast, to shake off the Canaanitish yoke, inspired thine inhabitants, oh America, with an ardent glow through every rank, to assert the cause of freedom: And led forth the husbandman and mechanic; with those of every class, to offer themselves undaunted in the daring conflict. It was he hid fear from their eyes, of either the superior number or skill, of the powerful foe they rose to withstand. And from him came down that firmness and fortitude, that raised American officers and soldiers, beyond all former example, through hunger, nakedness and cold, to fight the battles of their country; and never forsake it’s standard. It was he breathed from above, and fired their bosoms, in the hour of action, to crop the laurels of triumph; or, having dearly sold their precious lives, to embrace death, in all his glory, on the bloody field. And he only inspired our generous seamen with invincible firmness, to endure the horrors of prison-ships and jails; and expire by famine and British barbarity, rather than renounce the virtuous cause in which they embarked. It was he, who raised up Cyrus, to break the Assyrian force, and say, “let Israel be free,” endued the monarch of France with an angel’s mind, to assert and secure the freedom of his United American States. And, by him were the hearts of other nations disposed to our aid. And he, and he alone, who saith to the proud waves of the sea, “Hitherto shall ye come, but no farther,” restrained the councils and arms of Britain from improving against us many opportunities and advantages, which evidently lay within the line of their power. Who can recollect the critical night of retreat from Long-Island; the scene of retiring from New-York; the day of Brandywine; or the endangered situation of the arms of America, on Trenton’s ever memorable night; and not be constrained to say, “if it had not been the Lord, who was on our side, if it had not been the Lord, who was on our side, our enemy had swallowed us up: The waters had overwhelmed us: The proud stream had swept us away.” But blessed be his name, our help was found in him, who made the heavens and the earth. It was God, who blasted the secret designs of enemies and traitors against us. And, by an admirable interposition, brought forth into light, the dark and deep-stained villainy of an Arnold, cursed and detested of God and men.* And converted our repeated misfortunes and even mistakes, into singular mercies, and peculiar advantage, that, not more manifest was his voice on Sinai; or his hand, in the affairs of his Israel of old; than we have seen the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of our God, displayed through the whole of our arduous contest, from it’s earliest period down: And may, with emphatical propriety, say, it is he the Almighty God, has accomplished the whole, in every part; and by his kind care, and omnipotent arm, has wrought out our deliverance; cast forth our enemy; bestowed upon us a wide extended, fruitful country; and blessed us with a safe and honorable peace. And has brought the whole to pass, in so short a space of time; and with so few difficulties attending, in comparison of what we had reason to expect, that the establishment of these United States, in the peaceful possession of their rights and privileges, stands an instance of divine favour, unexampled in the records of time. Who does not remember the general language, when the war commenced? cheerfully to pay one half of our property, to secure our rights. But, far from even the half of this has been required. Individuals, ’tis true, and those amongst the most virtuous of the community, have suffered—have sorely suffered, by speculative miscreants, and a depreciating currency: And their confidence in the public faith has proved the temporal ruin of many; and widows and helpless orphans been made a prey. Many of whose sufferings might yet still be greatly alleviated, by a due attention; and a sacred regard to justice, and good conscience directing affairs: Which must also, sooner or later, take place; or the righteous God, who hates injustice, oppression and fraud, be highly displeased; and his judgments be yet poured out on our land: As he afflicted Israel of old, for unredressed injuries to the Gibeonites among them. And his justice, and his power are still the same. But, the price of our peace, taken on a national scale; compared with the advantages gained, and the number, by whom to be paid, scarce deserves a name. That, in whatever point of light we view this great event, we are constrained to say, “it is the doing of the Lord; and marvellous in our eyes.” And to him be rendered the thanks, and the praise—not unto us; not unto us; but to thy name, O Lord, be the glory. For thine is the power, and the victory, and the greatness. Both success and safety come of thee. And thou reignest over all: And hast wrought all our works, in us, and for us. Praise, therefore, thy God, O America, praise the Lord, ye, his highly favoured United States. Nor let it rest in the fleeting language of the lip; or the formal thanksgiving of a day. But, let every heart glow with gratitude: And every life, by a devout regard to his holy law, proclaim his praise. It is this, our God requires, as that wherein our personal, and national good, and the glory of his great name consist. And without which, all our professions will be but an empty name. It is, that we love the Lord our God, to walk in his ways, and keep his commandments, to observe his statutes and his judgments. That a sacred regard be maintained to righteousness and truth. That we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (a). Then shall God delight to dwell amongst us. And these United States shall long remain, a great, a glorious, and an happy people. Which may God, of his infinite mercy, grant. Amen.
[(a) ]Rom. 11.15.
[(b) ]Jer. 31.15.
[(c) ]Matt. 2.18.
[(b) ]The Congress.
[(a) ]A marble pillar appointed by Congress to be erected there.
[(a) ]Religious liberty, is a foundation principle in the constitutions of the respective states, distinguishing America from every nation in Europe; and resting religion on its proper basis; as supported by it’s own evidence, and the almighty care of it’s divine author; without the aid of the feeble, angry arm of civil power; which serves only to disgrace the name and religion of Jesus, by violating the rights of conscience.
[* ]Deut. xxvii. 25.
[(a) ]Deuteronomy 30. 16. Amos. 5. 24. Micah 6. 8.