Front Page Titles (by Subject) 33: Elhanan Winchester, A CENTURY SERMON ON THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION - Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. Vol. 1 (1730-1788)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
33: Elhanan Winchester, A CENTURY SERMON ON THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
A CENTURY SERMON ON THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION
Elhanan Winchester (1751–1797). A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Winchester was at first a Baptist and later a Universalist clergyman at churches in Massachusetts and South Carolina, in Philadelphia and London. A remarkable personality possessed of a photographic memory, he became learned in biblical languages and interpretation. During his longest pastorate, at the Baptist Church in Philadelphia (1780–87), he was friends with leading citizens, including Benjamin Rush and John Redman, and his brilliant preaching attracted large crowds. His acceptance of Universalism split the congregation, and he was driven out. He moved to London and remained there until 1794. Again he was successful and moved in the circles of such luminaries as Thomas Belsham, Joseph Priestley, and John Wesley.
Winchester’s family life could be justly considered a darkly troubled one. He married four women, each of whom died within a year or two, and of his eight children seven were stillborn and the eighth lived only seventeen months. A fifth wife made violent attacks upon Winchester. He left her, and England, in 1794, but she followed him to Connecticut, where they lived together again. He died of tuberculosis soon after, at the age of forty-five.
Winchester was a prolific author and for two years in London edited The Philadelphian Magazine. The publications setting forth his theological views were widely read on both sides of the Atlantic. They include The Universal Restoration (1788); A Course of Lectures on the Prophecies That Remain to Be Fulfilled (3 vols., 1789–90); The Process and Empire of Christ (1793), a long poem of 384 printed pages; and A Defence of Revelation in Ten Letters to Thomas Paine (1796), a response to The Age of Reason. In 1796 Winchester published, for use in American schools, A Plain Political Catechism, “wherein the great principles of liberty, and of the federal government, are laid down and explained by way of question and answer. Made level to the lowest capacities.”
The sermon reprinted here was preached in both Canterbury and London in November 1788 (one hundred years after the landing in England of William of Orange) as a century sermon celebrating the Glorious Revolution and the securing of English liberty. In the important political passages of the sermon, Winchester takes the occasion to trace the genealogy of liberty in Britain and America, from the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 to the stirring crescendo reached in the framing of the Constitution of the United States in 1787. He stresses that the American Revolution was a war between the Americans and the British ministry, not the British people themselves. He concludes with an apocalyptic sketch of the end of history, the Second Coming, and the dawn of the Millennium.
Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in Holiness, fearful in Praises, doing Wonders?
Exodus xv. 11
This grand and noble song (the first we find in the sacred writings), celebrates a most astonishing event. The children of Israel went down into Egypt, and had there increased from about seventy persons, to near three millions, in two hundred and fifteen years; and though Egypt was greatly indebted to the children of Jacob, especially to Joseph, yet the king and people of the land, forgetting those obligations, and greatly envying the increase of the tribes of Israel, cruelly oppressed them, by causing them to labour without reward; and not content with this tyranny, the cruel Pharaoh ordered their males to be cast into the river, to prevent their increase.
In this time Moses was born and by the special providence of God was brought up in Pharaoh’s court, till he was come to years; when he chose rather to suffer with his brethren, the children of Israel, than to enjoy the pleasures of the court, which the scriptures call the pleasures of sin. For avenging one of his brethren upon an Egyptian, who cruelly beat him, he was obliged to leave the country; and after dwelling forty years a stranger in Midian, God sent him as a special messenger, and leader, to bring forth Israel out of Egypt. He came invested with divine authority, and going to the king in the name of the Lord, demanded of him to let the people go, that they might serve God. Pharaoh refused, and said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord; neither will I let Israel go.”
The land of Egypt was then visited with ten dreadful successive plagues. God “turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish. Their land brought forth frogs in abundance,” even in the chambers of their monarch. The dust of the land became lice upon man and beast. Divers sorts of flies came at the command of the Lord; such as were intolerable to endure. A grievous murrain came upon their cattle, and the beasts suffered for the sins of their owners. Ashes of the furnace sprinkled in the air became a grievous sore upon man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt. “He gave them hail for rain; and flaming fire in their land: He smote their vines also, and their fig-trees, and brake the trees of their coasts.”
That storm must have been very terrible in a country where even rain itself is unusual; it was threatened to be such as had not been in Egypt, from the foundation of the kingdom till that time. So terrible as to slay whatever man or beast should be exposed to its fury. There was “thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt, since it became a nation.” This dreadful hail smote all men, beasts, trees, and vegetables, throughout the land of Egypt, except such as were housed, and secured therefrom. The next plague that followed was that of the locusts; of which the Psalmist says, “He spake, and the locusts came; and caterpillers, and that without number, and did eat up all the herbs in their land; and devoured the fruit of their ground.”
The next plague was that of a miraculous thick darkness, which for three days and nights covered the land of Egypt, so that “they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days.”
But the tenth and last plague, more terrible than all the rest, was that of the death of the first-born of Egypt, of which the Psalmist says, “He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a way to his anger, he spared not their soul from death: but gave their life over to the pestilence. And smote all the first-born in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham.”
What a most awful dispensation was this! in the dead and silent hour of midnight, while the inhabitants of Egypt lay slumbering on their couches, little dreaming of such destruction being near them; the dreadful angel of death, whom the Jews call Samael, went through the land of Egypt, and slew the first-born in every family, from the first-born of the king on the throne, to the captive in the dungeon; no rank was spared; high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, were visited alike with affliction in that sad distressing night. It is no wonder that “Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and (that) there was a great cry in Egypt: for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” Pharaoh and the Egyptians were now as anxious to send the children of Israel away, as they had been before to keep them in subjection; they “were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.”
So the children of Israel departed from Egypt, just four hundred and thirty years from the call of Abram to leave his native land; and “Egypt was glad when they departed”; for the fear of the Israelites fell upon the Egyptians.
But God, who knew that Pharaoh would repent of letting Israel go, and pursue after them, ordered the people to encamp near an arm of the Red-sea; so that no apparent possibility of escape might be seen; and that if deliverance came, it might be plainly manifest to be the Lord’s doing, and appear marvellous in their eyes. For it may be observed, that when God is about to work a great deliverance for his people, he usually first brings them into a great strait, so that destruction seems inevitable; and this he doth for the glory of his name, that their salvation may appear to be wholly his work, and that all the praise may be given to him alone, and that men may learn to know and reverence him, and acknowledge his hand in all things.
Pharaoh with his six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them, with his horses, horsemen, and his army, overtook the children of Israel, just as they were encamping by the sea; in such a place, that it seemed absolutely impossible for them to escape the enraged and armed Egyptians, who advanced against them with all their force, in a most warlike and terrible manner. Nothing but death or slavery appeared before their eyes; they were equally unable to fight or to fly; they were unarmed, unused to war, and had they been ever so much exercised in warlike arts, and ever so well armed, the mixed multitude of women, old people and children, with the abundance of cattle and goats they had with them, would have rendered them unable to maintain a conflict with a large army of warlike men, prepared to the battle, with horses and chariots in abundance. Neither was it more practicable for them to fly, even upon a supposition that the country had been open; for women, little ones, and droves of cattle and sheep could never march so fast as to escape a pursuing army, mounted on the best horses in the world, and in chariots prepared for war.
But even this was not the case, they had not this chance of escaping; far from having an open country, they were entangled in the land, the wilderness had shut them in; difficulties on the right hand and on the left, rendered it impossible for them to turn off, so as to escape; the red sea before, and the pursuing army behind, overtaking them at the greatest disadvantage, when they were just encamping, increased their distresses, dangers, and fears to the highest possible pitch. Despair seized the host of Israel, the people lifted up their eyes, and saw the Egyptians marching after them,
and they were sore afraid: and cried out unto the Lord. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in this wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
This was the language of despair and madness; no hope or expectation of deliverance now remained; they gave up themselves for lost. But Moses, directed by God, said unto the people, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever,” (in any capacity to hurt you). “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” And verily the Lord did fight for them indeed! for he commanded Moses to stretch out his wonderful rod over the sea, and he obeyed; and the Lord caused a strong east wind to blow, and divided the waters of the sea; and in the mean time, to prevent the Egyptians from coming near to distress the Israelites, or even to incommode them in their passage, the Lord removed the cloud of glory that went before the camp of the Israelites, as their light and guide, and placed it between them and the Egyptians; so that it was a cloud and darkness to their enemies, but on the contrary, a bright and glorious light to them: this kept the armies apart, and answered the double purpose of greatly incommoding the Egyptians, while it secured the Israelites; gave them light to pursue their journey, and forwarded them on their way. Is it not astonishing, that the Egyptians, seeing the waters of the sea divided, and this extraordinary cloud placed between them and the Israelites, should not have been deterred from their pursuit? for they must have perceived, that the God who had sent so many plagues upon Egypt, whereby his name and power had been abundantly made known, had taken the Israelites under his protection, and was determined to deliver them, and that he was manifestly fighting for them. But so were they blinded, and hardened, that they ventured to pursue Israel into the sea; and they did not appear to have taken up this plain and obvious consideration, viz. The Lord fighteth for Israel against the Egyptians, till it was too late for them to profit by it, not until the Lord looked through the pillar of fire and of the cloud upon their host, and troubled it; and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily. Then would they fain have fled, but the time was past; that which they seemed blind unto before, now appeared self-evident; but their knowledge was then unprofitable and tormenting. O, could men learn to be as wise and considerate in the proper season, as they are when it is past, how many difficulties would they escape?
God then ordered Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea, that the waters might return again upon the Egyptians; and he did so. “And the waters returned and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them: there remained not so much as one of them.”
This great overthrow of the Egyptians, and deliverance of Israel, are the wonders celebrated in this piece of sacred poetry, which is truly worthy of its excellent composer.
Moses, whether considered as a historian, poet, legislator, judge, general, prophet, or intercessor, whether viewed in his private character, or public life, is one of the greatest and best men that ever existed on earth. His meekness, courage, prudence, humility, benevolence, wisdom, and piety, may stand as an eternal example to all men in high stations, to teach them what they should be, and how they ought to conduct themselves.
This song is a most glorious and triumphant ode, which celebrates the victories of the God of Israel in the most strong and beautiful language. It needs only to be read even under all the disadvantages of a literal translation, to observe very uncommon beauties in it; What then must it have been to have heard it performed in the original language, accompanied with suitable musick, by the many thousands of glad hearts and voices, of those who had not only been spectators, but sharers in the glorious deliverance, which it celebrates in so sublime a manner? But it is time to attend a little particularly to the words which I first read.
Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah amongst the Gods? There is none like the great Supreme, his awful name Jehovah, contains the past, present and future tenses; He is the Being who is, who was, and shall be; He ordered Moses to proclaim his name, Ehejah; that is, I will be what I will be; this none but the most high alone could say, for he hath manifested himself as the Being who is, and the causer or creator of all other beings, who all owe their existence, and continuance to him alone, for as he created all things, so he preserveth all, and all nature adores him.
There is none like him in his self-existence; he only exists of and from, and by himself; all other beings owe their existence to him.
There is none like him, self sufficient, and independent; no created being possesses these perfections in a proper sense, not in the least degree; all are insufficient in themselves, and must be forever dependent upon him the great fountain of existence, both for their being, and well being; for as they could not exist of themselves, so neither can they sustain or support themselves, nor enjoy any felicity, but from him, on whom the whole creation is dependent.
None are like him in his eternity, he is, and none beside him, without beginning, all others had a commencement of existence: he only is without beginning, the first and the last, from eternity to eternity.
Who is like him in his immensity and infinity? not one: none can compare with him in these characters; all created beings are finite and circumscribed, bounded in all respects, both in knowledge, power, and goodness, but he is infinite and unbounded.
God is unchangeable; in this respect, who can compare with him? surely none in the earth or heaven.
“I am Jehovah; I change not.” This God could say, and none but he.
Who is like Jehovah in his omniscience? even the consideration of this perfection, is too much for the highest wisdom of men.
David was astonished at this boundless subject, and cried out,
O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me; thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine up-rising; thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path, and my lying-down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
He was overwhelmed at the thought of God’s omniscience, which equally extends to things past, present, and to come: and includes the knowledge of all his creatures, and all their circumstances, thoughts, words, ways, &c and in a word, his knowledge is infinite, and there is none like him in this.
Omnipresence is another divine perfection, which none can claim in any degree but God; “Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to him,” who is in all places at once, not included in any one place, nor excluded from any: he fills heaven and earth; neither is there any thing hid from him.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely, the darkness shall cover me: even the night shall be light about me: Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
God is present every where, beholding all things, hell and destruction have no covering to hide them from his face; all things are naked to his eye. O, what a Being is this! and who is like unto him amongst the gods?
His omnipotence is another glorious perfection, in which none may dare to compare themselves with him. He can do whatsoever he pleases, without restriction or exception. The works of creation evidence this abundantly: the heavens, earth, and seas, with all their numberless hosts, proclaim the power of God to be infinite; the heaven of heavens with the innume[ra]ble multitude of angels, all join to proclaim the omnipotence of the Deity. Neither is it by creation alone that the knowledge of this perfection is revealed; the works of Providence declare it.
Who could provide for such a numerous family, as the wide creation contains, but a God all-powerful, as well as infinitely wise? The judgments which Jehovah executeth upon his enemies, and the deliverances which he gives to those who trust in him, have contributed to cause his power to be known, and declared, as much as any of his works. Thus God’s mighty hand upon the land of Egypt, and upon Pharaoh and his host, hath made his power known, and caused his name to be declared through the earth.
And when the children of Israel saw these mighty works, they cried out in the words of my text, Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods?
In all these perfections which I have mentioned, there is none like Jehovah. Amongst the gods there is none like him; amongst all the holy angels in heaven, who are called gods, there are none who can compare with him; still less can emperors, kings, princes, nobles, rulers, judges, and magistrates of the earth, those gods below, pretend to be likened unto the Majesty of heaven and earth. But most of all, it is absurd and ridiculous to compare God with the idols of the heathen; he challenges these, with all their adherents to enter the lists with him, either in telling events that are past, foretelling those to come, or bringing any thing to pass, whether good or evil, as may be seen in my Preparatory Lecture upon the Prophecies; and his challenges may be read at large in several prophecies, especially in Isaiah. If none amongst angels or men, the works of his hands, may be compared to Jehovah; how much less idols of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood and stone, the work of mens hands, which neither hear, nor speak, nor see, nor know? “But our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hand. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not. They have ears, but they hear not; noses have they, but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not; neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” These idols are not even shadows of divinity; they are vanity, wind, and confusion: they are meaner than the meanest of men, viler than the beasts, and therefore would not be worthy to be mentioned in such a discourse as this, had not the nations of the world been generally guilty of worshipping them: and therefore Jehovah deigns to reason with men, and to convince them of the vanity and folly of such conduct.
Well might Israel say, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness?” Not only the essential attributes of God, which I have mentioned, are such as neither angels nor men can claim, but also his moral character and perfections as holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and righteousness, are such as none can claim but God alone; “there is none good but one, that is, God.” “There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee.” “The Lord is righteous.” “Justice and judgement are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” God is indeed glorious in holiness!
So pure is he, that “the heavens are not clean in his sight; he putteth no trust in his saints, and his angels he charged with folly: he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity.” The seraphim in his presence continually cry; “Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.” He is indeed glorious in holiness; “Holy and reverend is his name.” “Holiness becometh thy house, O God, for ever.” “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool, for he is holy.” This is the universal language of God’s word and providences; God is holy. Yea, he is glorious in holiness, he shines most superlatively in this part of his character: his judgements against sin and iniquity bespeak his holiness: as the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the sea; which is celebrated in this song.
So holy is God, that no unclean thing, or person can dwell with him; and therefore we are exhorted, to follow holiness, without which no “man shall see the Lord.”
God is also “fearful in praises; he is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”
Though he is to be loved and praised, yet with holy fear and reverence; for he is most holy, wise, and powerful, just, righteous, true, pure, and good; he knows all things, is every where present; his eyes are as a flame of fire; he is jealous for his honour and glory; and will not suffer his holy name to be profaned by the highest personage on the earth with impunity. He will be sanctified by all that approach him. And he is fearful in praises, for the very things for which he deserves praise, are those things which cause his name to be feared and reverenced; as for instance, the judgements brought on the land of Egypt, and on Pharaoh and his host, are celebrated in this song of praise; and yet they were terrible things in righteousness. So that he is the great and terrible God, worthy to be praised, and yet to be feared.
He is farther described in my text as, doing wonders; and I have mentioned some of the wonders which he wrought before the eyes of those who sang this song of praise to his holy name; and if time would permit, I might speak of many more that they beheld; they had bread rained from heaven, during forty years, for their support; and all that time their clothes waxed not old, neither did their feet swell. The bitter waters of Marah were made sweet for them. They had living waters given them out of the flinty rock. They were miraculously provided with food, both bread, and meat; and water in the barren desert; not a few people only, but several millions; not for a few days, but for forty years. They saw many wonders which God wrought, both in judgements and mercies towards them; of which time would fail me to speak particularly. And indeed one of the principal designs of this discourse, is to celebrate some of the wonders which God hath done for this nation in times past; and which are worthy to be remembered, and celebrated with praise and thanksgiving.
In the year 1588, two centuries ago, Philip of Spain (a second Pharaoh for pride and cruelty), thought to have the glory of conquering this kingdom (that had then newly embraced the Protestant religion), and of annexing it to the See of Rome.
At that time Spain was at the zenith of its earthly glory, possessing an extent of empire, on which they boasted the sun never went down.
The rich mines of Mexico and Peru, poured in silver and gold in abundance, into the treasuries of the king of Spain. America had been discovered ninety-six years, and the Spaniards alone had derived any advantages from the discovery. The resources they drew from that country were amazing indeed. But besides plenty of money, which may be called, the sinews of war, Spain, at that time had the best army, and finest navy in Europe; and the greatest commanders of the age, both by land and sea.
Under all these advantages, they doubted not of success in their intended invasion of England; but to make the matter more sure, they kept the expedition as secret as possible; but in the mean time fitted out a most formidable armament, destined to destroy the lives, but especially the liberties of the inhabitants of these isles. The cruel bishop, or pope of Rome, willing to give the greatest possible encouragement to the undertaking, published a bull by which he excommunicated Queen Elizabeth over again, and absolved all her subjects from their allegiance to her: proclaimed a crusade against her, with the usual indulgences; promising the pardon of sins, and an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, to those who should die in this war. And he gave the name of the invincible armada, to this armament; and moreover presented a consecrated banner to Philip, with his blessing; which in those days of superstition, was thought sufficient to ensure success. So confident were they of obtaining an easy victory, that about two thousand volunteers entered into the service; many of whom were noblemen, belonging to the first families in Spain and Italy. And indeed there was hardly a family of rank in those countries, that had not some one or more of its connections on board the fleet. England at that time was so weak, had so small a navy, and no regular army, that the Spaniards expected little or no resistance would be made; and therefore they had agreed how to divide the spoils among themselves; and this made such numbers ambitious to enjoy the triumph.
Thus prepared, the fleet was ready to sail; but just at that time one of their greatest admirals died, and the chief command was given to a nobleman of one of the first families in Italy, but who was entirely unacquainted with maritime affairs. This was the first check to their design, in which the hand of Providence plainly appeared. During this time the inhabitants of England were not idle, but considering their all at stake, property, liberty, and life, made the best preparation they were able, to meet their formidable enemies; and in truth, much better than was expected. The hand of the Lord seemed evident in giving courage, unanimity, and a fixed resolution to defend themselves against their cruel invaders. This preparation was what the Spaniards did not expect, and may be reckoned under the direction of Providence, one of the causes of their defeat.
The fleet set sail in the beginning of summer, but a storm, obliged it to return again into port, considerably damaged. When the news came to England, it was commonly thought that the expedition would be laid aside for that season; and the queen sent orders upon that supposition, to her admiral, to dismiss most of the sea-men, and lay up some of the largest of the ships; but he, more wary, begged leave to retain them all in the service; even though it should be at his own expence.
The Spanish fleet by this time was refitted, and ready to go to sea, and the English admiral sailed out to make discoveries, and by some means found out that the armada had sailed, and he fearing that they would pass by him, hasted and returned up the channel, and waited their arrival. The Spaniards had orders to coast near France, to form a junction with the army, that waited to join them. But at sea they took a fisherman, who informed them, that the English admiral had been out to sea; but hearing that the armada had been driven back by a storm, returned into port, and had laid up his ships. This mistake of a fisherman probably saved this nation; for hearing this intelligence, the commander ventured to disobey his orders, and determined to sail directly to England, and destroy the shipping in the harbours and docks. The English fleet met them, and falling upon their fear, and waiting the events of the night, had the good fortune to take some of their richest store ships, and send them into port. They now, perceiving their mistake, made to the coast of France, when they cast anchor. But the English admiral watched his opportunity, and filling a number of ships with combustibles, set them on fire, and sent them down among the thickest of the enemies battle ships. Terrified at this new appearance, they slipped their cables and would fain have gone out to sea, and returned home, but could not, for the wind was contrary; the English fleet falling upon them in this confusion, took twelve of their largest ships without losing more than one. The Spanish armada had no other way of returning home but going into the North sea, and sailing round the island; the English fleet followed and grievously harrassed their enemies, who were now in the utmost distress, and had thoughts of surrendering at discretion; and it is said the commander in chief had once determined to do so, but was dissuaded by his confessor. However, the event was almost equally fatal to them; for a terrible storm compleated their overthrow, and shameful defeat; many of their ships foundered at sea, and others were wrecked upon the coast of Ireland, and the western isles of Scotland, and not more than half of them ever returned to Spain.
Thus was this formidable armada defeated, without having done the smallest injury to this kingdom, or even landing any troops upon the island. And thus England was miraculously saved from destruction, by the immediate hand of Providence; which was scarcely, ever more visibly manifested in any affair, than in that very great, and singular deliverance of this land, from tyranny, popery, and slavery.
From the year 1588, we pass to the year 1688 (a most important year to this kingdom). Then it was that the king who swayed the sceptre of these realms, a bigotted member of the church of Rome, plotted to overthrow and destroy the liberties of his subjects; and render England again dependent upon the See of Rome. How miserable would the situation of these lands have now been, had he succeeded in his designs! But he that doeth wonders, wrought for his name’s sake, and raised up a glorious deliverer, in the person of William, prince of Orange, stadholder of Holland, and afterwards king of England.
As Cyrus was raised up by God, strengthened and preserved, to give liberty to the captive Jews; so by the same divine hand of Providence, this wonder of a man was called, chosen, strengthened, and encouraged to undertake the dangerous enterprize of making a descent upon this island, not to conquer and enslave the inhabitants, but to give them liberty and happiness.
This day, an hundred years ago, he landed on this island: he was marvellously helped and preserved by God, till he had established and secured the liberties of these kingdoms; which, in consequence of the glorious revolution, we at present enjoy. I need not take the time to follow the valiant hero through all his journies, voyages, fore battles, and remarkable deliverances; many of you no doubt are better acquainted with the history of those times and things, than I can pretend to be.
I will rather demand your attention, while I consider some of the inestimable liberties and privileges we possess, as a fair inheritance in consequence of that event, which we celebrate on this happy day. Among all the liberties with which the inhabitants of these kingdoms are favoured, I shall only mention the following.
I. The liberty of acquiring and peaceably possessing property. This, though by no means the greatest blessing we enjoy, is yet very great. In many parts of the world nothing is more dangerous than for a man to be known, or even thought to possess riches: in those countries none can enjoy the good things of life in peace; property is there precarious, and may be taken away at any time at the command of a tyrant, and it is well if life itself is not in danger. But in this country, property may be acquired, and possessed with safety; persons may have all the security for it here, that in the nature of things can be expected in this fleeting state.
II. Personal freedom and safety may be enjoyed in these kingdoms: we are but in little danger of assassinations and private murders here, while in many countries nothing is more common, than for these diabolical acts to be committed with impunity, and even without any enquiry. Life cannot be taken away here by the will and at the command of a lawless tyrant, as in most parts of the world. A man must be found guilty by his unbiassed peers before he can be put to death. The king may pardon some criminals, but cannot condemn any; he has it in his power in this, as in many other instances to do much good, but is happily restrained by the laws and constitution of this country, from doing any harm to the meanest of his subjects. And this is so far from abridging the rights, and felicity of the sovereign; that he is most happy in this god-like liberty of doing good, like the great Author of nature, but not of doing evil.
We may therefore justly reckon personal security, and trial by juries, among the great and invaluable liberties that we enjoy: as also that slavery or perpetual servitude, is not allowed in these kingdoms; every slave being free, the moment he treads on British ground. And it would be well if it were so in all the British dominions abroad.
III. The liberty and freedom of the press; this may be considered as the great palladium of liberty, and it cannot exist but in a free country: while this remains in a country, there can be no danger of tyranny. Tyrants always aim to abridge, weaken, restrain, or destroy this liberty. They cannot endure it; and hence it comes to pass that in no place where arbitrary government prevails, is this liberty allowed.
And I do not know that the press is wholly free and unrestrained in any part of the globe, save only in the dominions of the king of Great Britain, and the United States of America.
And it was not till after the glorious revolution, that this was wholly the case in these kingdoms; before that time the press was under many restraints; and books were obliged to be licensed, before they could be printed; and at some times nothing could be published but what was according to the views of corrupt statesmen, or arbitrary tyrants. This freedom is of infinitely more consequence than some imagine; for by this it comes to pass, that knowledge is more generally disseminated among all ranks of people, from the highest to the lowest; and thus they are rendered capable of knowing their native rights, of asserting, contending for, and maintaining their freedom: yea, by this knowledge they are rendered worthy of being free, and of enjoying so inestimable a blessing as liberty. If any attempts should be made against the unalienable rights of men, by those in power, they will be much checked, if not rendered wholly abortive, by the unrestrained liberty of the press. Besides all these advantages, the press communicates the means of pleasure and improvement: O, what sublime pleasure may be found in reading well-written productions, which, owing to the noble art of printing, and the freedom of the press, are so plenty and cheap, as to be within the reach of most who choose to employ part of their time in that delightful exercise. And how surprizingly have all kinds of inventions and improvements been propagated, and arts and useful sciences flourished, since the art of printing has been found out; and especially in those countries where the liberty of the press has been free and unrestrained. Add to all, that the very knowledge of salvation, and the means of present happiness, and future felicity, have been communicated to millions of the human race, by this noble art of printing, and glorious freedom of the press. When all these things are considered, it will easily be seen, that the liberty of the press is no small blessing.
IV. The liberty of conscience; this is such a blessing, that mountains of gold, and rocks of diamonds offered in exchange for it, ought to be esteemed as trifles unworthy of a name. Who can look back upon the history of this country, before the revolution, and not exult in the consideration of this privilege inestimable, that the inhabitants of these realms enjoy, in consequence of that memorable event, and the glorious accession of king William to the throne? for he was the illustrious person, that procured the act of toleration to be past, which has been the greatest national blessing that England ever enjoyed. And there is nothing that renders the illustrious house of Hanover so truly great, as the constant attention which the successive kings of that line have paid to the liberties of their subjects; and especially their continuing, enlarging, confirming, and establishing, this beneficent act, and by their influence discountenancing all persecution for conscience sake.
Here we may worship God, according to the dictates of our own consciences; and none to make us afraid. No inquisitions, no instruments of torture worse than death; no faggots, stakes, and flames; no axes, halters, wheels, or racks; no fines, imprisonments, whippings, banishments, or deaths await us, for daring to think for ourselves, in matters of religion. A man once lost his life in this kingdom for saying these words, “I believe my God is in heaven, and not in the Pix,” the place where they kept the consecrated wafers. Another young man, an apprentice, about nineteen years of age, was burnt, because in a dispute with a cunning priest, who laid wait for him, he had inadvertently been drawn in to deny the real presence in the sacrament.
Another man lost his life, only because on Sundays, he used to accustom himself to read aloud in a great Bible that was chained in the church, and the people flocked around to hear him. This was his crime; for which he suffered death. And even since the days of Henry, and those of bloody Mary, though few have been burned for daring to think differently from the church, or dissenting from the religion established by law; yet thousands have been fined, have lost their all, have suffered great penalties, banishments, and imprisonments, have died in dungeons, &c. &c. for no other cause. More than six thousand worthy persons, whose only crime was a tender conscience perished in loathsome dungeons, only in the reign of King Charles the Second. But, blessed be God, the scene is changed; let us forget the past, except so far as the remembrance of the same may cause us to enjoy, and be thankful for the present.
There is but one country in the world where liberty, and especially religious liberty, is so much enjoyed as in these kingdoms, and that is the United States of America: there religious liberty is in the highest perfection. All stand there on equal ground. There are no religious establishments, no preference of one denomination of Christians above another. The constitution knows no difference between one good man, and another. A man may be chosen there to the highest civil offices, without being obliged to give any account of his faith, subscribe any religious test, or go to the communion-table of any church.
We that here are called dissenters, there stand upon a level with the highest dignitaries in the episcopal church. Our marriages are as valid in law as theirs; and we are as much respected as they, if we behave as well: and the members of our churches are as eligible to posts of honour and profit as theirs. And what is the consequence of this equality? Does the episcopal church suffer by it? far from it; she gains. She has in reality prospered more, since this has been the case, than before. She has good bishops, respectable clergy, and many worthy members. She is no longer envied and hated by her sister-churches; far from it; she is respected. Her worthy clergy are better supported now by free contributions, donations, subscriptions, &c than formerly they were by compulsion in those places, where episcopacy was established and supported by law. Unworthy, ignorant and vicious clergymen, of which there were formerly many, are now discarded, and obliged to cease exercising their functions; for none are obliged to hear or support them. And all the people of every denomination, through the United States, enjoy that highest perfection of religious liberty, viz. the choosing and supporting their spiritual guides, in that way which is most agreeable to them; and also the power of rejecting them for immoral conduct. There are no patrons there, none to present to vacant churches; all must be approved by the people to whom they are to minister.
The authority in many places does not even interfere at all, in matters of religion; and in no part of the states, are ministers, or houses, under the least necessity of being licensed by authority; each denomination licensing, calling, and setting apart their ministers to the sacred work, in that manner which they think most fit.
I am of opinion that religious establishments, have generally, if not always, defeated their own designs.
No doubt, Constantine the Great, who first established christianity, had a good intention in the same; but all the darkness that has since overspread the Christian church, the exorbitant power of the popes and church of Rome, all the oceans of blood that have been shed in the contests about religion, between different sects of Christians, the almost total cessation of the progress of christianity, the rise of Mahometanism, the rise and spread of deism, the general contempt into which christianity is fallen; all may fairly be laid at the door of that establishment.
Had the Christian religion been left to itself, armed with its proper weapons, truth and love; had the civil authority never interfered with it at all, but only protected all men in the enjoyment of their equal and unalienable rights, such as life, liberty, property, and the lawful pursuit of happiness; I am of mind, that long ago christianity would have triumphed over all its enemies, idolatry, superstition, ignorance, and cruelty; and would before now have covered the earth, banished paganism, prevented Mahometanism, and infidelity, healed all divisions, convinced the world at large of its divine original; popery and persecution would never have been heard of amongst Christians: the ministers of the gospel would have been burning and shining lights, the churches would have been united in essential things, and those professing christianity, would have been ornaments to their profession.
And I am of the opinion, that if there had never been an establishment in England, or any act of uniformity past, but every one had been left to enjoy full free and absolute liberty of conscience, and the state had made no difference between those who followed the religion of the court and others, but raised, and encouraged all according to their merit and abilities, I fully and firmly believe that if there had remained any different sentiments and modes of worship at all till this time, they would have been nothing in comparison of what they are now. For I argue in this, from the very nature of man, who is an imitative being and is apt to follow those about him, unless compelled so to do, and then behaving as contrary; for the very nature and dignity of man abhors compulsion and restraint.
As a proof of my hypothesis, I need only mention, that where the law does not interfere at all, people generally follow one another, and sometimes where even it is inconvenient, and expensive so to do.
As in learning and speaking the language, practising the manners of those about them, building their houses, having the same kind of windows, chimneys, furniture, &c. eating the same kinds of food, and the same number of meals in a day; as for instance; in places where the people commonly eat four, three times, twice, or but once a day, most follow the same general rule, and those also who come to sojourn amongst them, soon conform to the same way. In generally using the same drink, and in many other ways, men shew that they do not need force and law to cause them to follow one another. But nothing shews people’s abhorrence of singularity more than copying after each other in the articles of dress and amusements, which are frequently very expensive and inconvenient, and what is worse, perpetually changing, yet where there is no compulsion, men of even the most independent spirits, will, through a desire to please, a fear of appearing singular, or from some other cause, clothe themselves like their neighbours; even though it may be inconvenient, expensive, and contrary to what they would choose or desire in their own secret opinions. But though men are so apt to imitate each other when left to themselves, yet where force and compulsion are used, the sense of freedom frequently gets the better of every other consideration, and men dare to appear singular, though pains and penalties await them, where otherwise they would conform to the same customs with their neighbours, without a thought of differing. I will therefore now mention the greatest maxim in politics that was ever delivered, and which deserves to be written in letters of gold, over the doors of all the state houses in the world. The great secret of governing, consists in not governing too much.
Religious establishments, in countries where persecution is allowed, cause people to become hypocrites; in other places they cause many to dissent. They raise envy, strife, contempt, hatred, wrath, and every evil work: give occasion to reproach christianity and its author; rob the church of its life, power, love, and purity; darken, debase, and obscure its doctrines; pervert, corrupt, and change its institutions.
It is true that religious establishments cause the church so established to be rich, grand, honourable, and powerful in the world’s esteem; but at the same time she becomes poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked, in her Lord’s esteem; his presence, power, and protection depart from her; she in a sort ceases to be his spouse.
This was evident in the days of Constantine; before that time christianity flourished, conquered its foes, triumphed over all opposition, miracles, and the gifts of the spirit were common; but all this beauty faded like a moth, when once the church was established by law. It was soon filled with unworthy members, idle ministers, and vicious, proud, domineering ecclesiastics of all sorts: And thus its glory departed, and has never wholly returned since.
The genuine love of liberty is, next to benevolence, or the love of God and man, the noblest motive that ever influenced the human mind. And whatever faults, failings, or infirmities the true lovers of liberty, may have in common with their neighbours, there will be generally if not always the absence of the following vices in every breast where the love of liberty dwells.
I.The love of money. This sordid vice, which St. Paul stiles, the root of all evil, can never dwell with the love of liberty. They who love money, will sell their king, country, freedom, their souls and their God for gold. But stop: gold is their God. They, on the other hand, who are lovers of liberty, will part with wealth, and frequently life itself, for the good of their country. The lovers of liberty may be distinguished by their noble contempt of riches, honours, pleasures, &c. when put in competition with their rights and liberties, the freedom of their country, and of mankind.
II. The lust of power is entirely incompatible with the love of liberty; as is evident from the nature of things, as well as the experience of all past ages.
III. Cruelty and revenge, cannot abide in the same breast with that offspring of heaven, the true love of freedom.
The love of liberty makes men noble, brave, generous, kind; it arms them with patience, fortitude, and true valour. But as for those vices which I have named above, they are so contrary to the love of heaven born freedom, that we may set it down for a maxim, never to expect the friend of liberty in the man in whom these, or any of them, have the government of the soul.
As I never shall have a better opportunity, give me leave here to introduce a greater hero on the stage than William the Third; even Jesus Christ, the great deliverer of mankind.
If any should dispute the truth of the historical fact which we celebrate this day, namely, the landing of King William on this island, an hundred years ago, he would be justly laughed at for a very ignorant and incredulous man. But what shall we say of those who, favoured with the means of knowledge, deny the history of the gospel? Surely they are, or pretend to be, the most ignorant and conceited of mortals.
It is as certainly true that there was such a person as Jesus Christ, that he was born in Bethlehem, in the days of Augustus, emperor of Rome, that he wrought miracles, died on the cross, in the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea; that he was buried, and the third day rose again, and on the fortieth day from his resurrection, ascended up on high; I say these facts are as well authenticated, as any historical facts that ever happened in the world. It is no less certain that these things were so, than that William, prince of Orange did, on the 5th of November, 1688, land on this island. If any say that the time when Christ was said to be born, &c. was so long ago, that we cannot be so certain of it, as of things that happened lately. I answer, that what is true now, will be so a thousand years hence; time never can turn truth into falsehood. And it is pretty well worthy of observation, that they who cavil at the gospel history, never hesitate to believe, that there was such a person as Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar, and that the latter made a descent upon this island; though these are more antient things, than the birth of Christ.
It is indeed impossible that any events should be better attested than the life and actions of our Saviour. The four marks that no falsehood ever had, or can have, and which even many true facts want, all meet to confirm christianity.
I. It is necessary that the things done, or said to be done, be such as the senses of men can judge of; such were the actions and sufferings of Christ. And the apostles could say, “That which we have heard and seen, and our hands have handled of the word of life, declare we unto you,” &c.
II. The actions done, must be performed before a number of witnesses; and Christ wrought his miracles, &c. was crucified, and buried, before many evidences; he was seen after his resurrection, at one time by above five hundred; and eleven different appearances of his, after his resurrection, are recorded; numbers saw him ascend; so that all these wonderful things were done openly.
III. It is not only necessary that authentic records of these things should be kept, and histories written by eye and ear witnesses of the several facts, but that certain ordinances should be instituted, and observed in commemoration of them. This is the case with christianity; the history of our Lord’s life, actions, death, &c. was written by those who saw, heard, and attended him through the whole course of his ministry on earth; and who therefore were as well prepared to write a genuine history of those things, as any historians could be to write of King William the Third. And besides, there are many institutions kept up in remembrance of some of these great events. As the observance of Sunday, weekly, in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, the holy communion of bread and wine, in remembrance of his death.
Good Friday, yearly, in remembrance of the time of his sufferings; Easter Sunday, as the time of his resurrection; Holy Thursday, as his ascension day; and Whit-sunday, as the day of the descent of the Holy Ghost. All these things testify the truth of christianity.
IV. These institutions in order to be standing evidences of the facts, must begin to be observed from the very time when the things were done. And this hath certainly been the case with respect to christianity; there has been an order of men set apart, from that time to this, to declare these great things; sacraments have been used, and days constantly observed in commemoration of these grand events, from the very time when they happened, down to this period. So that we may challenge all mankind to overthrow the external evidence of christianity.
Christ Jesus came into the world, for purposes infinitely more important than those for which William came to England. William came hither to deliver this nation from tyranny, arbitrary government, popery, and slavery; to give, confirm, and transmit down to the inhabitants of these kingdoms, the natural rights and privileges of freemen; which I have briefly considered. Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from the tyranny and bondage of Satan, the world, and our own evil lusts and passions; to give us eternal life, and liberty, with the privilege of being the adopted children and heirs of God; these are greater blessings than earth can bestow, and will not only be of use to us a few days, as the things of time are, but during our whole existence.
William came over here for the benefit of the people of this nation, who were his friends, invited him over, and joined his standard. But Jesus Christ came into the world for the benefit of all mankind, even those who were his enemies; he was hated, despised, opposed and rejected, by his own kindred, according to the flesh; yet still his love and kindness continued to the last towards them.
William did many things for the good of this land; suffered much, and ventured his life for the people of these kingdoms; for which his memory is precious, and ought to be regarded with sincere affection. But O, what love, gratitude and praises, are due to Jesus Christ, who came into the world, and wrought so many works of mercy for mankind? He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, caused the deaf to hear, gave speech to the dumb, caused the lame to walk, restored the maimed, cast out demons, cleansed the lepers, and raised the dead.
He suffered hunger, thirst, weariness, cold, want, poverty, disgrace, reproach, contempt, slander, temptation, and distress of various kinds: and he not only ventured his life, but actually laid it down for mankind.
William was of a noble family, was a prince by birth, and allied by marriage to the royal family of Great Britain; but Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person; the prince of peace, head over all things, for he created all things, preferred all things, and hath redeemed all things; was in the form of God, yet he humbled himself so as to become obedient unto death, even the accursed death of the cross, the most painful and shameful of all kinds of deaths.
Thus is Jesus Christ infinitely superior to King William, and the blessings of the gospel as much surpass all earthly advantages, as the soul exceeds the body, or eternity time: the certainty of christianity is as much to be depended upon, and is in every respect as authentic as that grand event, the Revolution, and infinitely more important.
Therefore while we remember King William, and what we owe to him, let us not forget Jesus Christ, to whom we are infinitely more indebted.
And while we would wish to abide by revolution principles, maintaining our glorious liberties, so dearly purchased, and constantly abhorring popery and slavery, let us remember the most excellent maxims of christianity, delivered by the mouth of our blessed Saviour, whose morals exceed all others, as much as his character is superior, and his mission more important than other men’s.
He commanded love to God and man, universal benevolence to all, even to our enemies, justice and righteousness towards all, to do to others as we would wish them to do to us; to avoid selfishness, envy, pride, wrath, the love of the world, the love and practice of every sin, to avoid rash judging, a bitter and censorious spirit, slander, reviling, and provoking speeches, and behaviour; to beware of hypocrisy, covetousness, &c. To be faithful, prudent, virtuous, innocent, humble, meek, kind, courteous, compassionate, merciful, sober, generous, patient, and resigned to the will of God.
These are brief abstracts of the morality taught by the Saviour of mankind, and which as Christians we should remember and practise.
What I have more to say at present, is just to notice the events of the present year, and mention some of those great things that may be expected shortly to come to pass.
We are now arrived almost at the close of the year 1788, a year in which great things have been long expected to manifest themselves. Many years have I waited, and I imagine many thousands more, with great expectation, to see what wonders would be wrought at this time; and if the events of 1788, have not been so extraordinary as were looked for, they have been such as deserve notice. Let us look around the world, and see if we can find nothing worth preserving, and transmitting down to future generations.
In England, this has been a remarkable year on many accounts. The nation has enjoyed the continuance of peace, while wars and rumours of wars have terrified many parts of Europe.
This has been a year of blessings to this nation; the season has been so remarkably mild, and plentiful, as the like has scarce ever been known; not only has there been a plentiful crop, but a most excellent season for gathering it in. We have not been visited this year with the wasting pestilence, devouring sword, black famine, horrid tempests, sweeping storms, dreadful fires, earthquakes, inundations, &c. but on the contrary, have enjoyed peace, health, plenty, and prosperity. One alarming event hath indeed taken place here; the present indisposition of his majesty. But, except this, I know of nothing that has happened this year in England, but one continued scene of blessings.
Great events may be expected to arise out of the present war between the Turks, and their powerful opponents, the Russians and the Austrians. Perhaps the return of the Jews to their own land may be one of the consequences.
If we turn our eyes to France, we see the spirit of liberty, which has been asleep, or crushed to death in that kingdom for more than two hundred years, beginning to revive; and what events will follow the general meeting of the states in that empire (a thing which has not been known since the days of Henry the Fourth, of France), time must discover. If the establishment of civil and religious liberty there should take its date from this year, it would be a great and glorious wonder of God, and would cause this season to be long remembered with pleasure.
In Italy we find the power of the pope greatly weakening, and the influence of the See of Rome every where diminishing. In Spain the horrid inquisition falling; arts and sciences flourishing; and such events are taking place through Europe, as will ere long astonish the world.
But one of the greatest and most important events of the year 1788, and which will cause it to be long remembered, has taken place in the United States of America. There a new constitution and settled form of government has been adopted, after being formed deliberately, and confirmed unanimously, in a general convention of the States; then recommended to the people at large, and by them examined, approved, and ratified.
This is such an astonishing event to those who know the situation of the United States of America, that nothing less than a very special Providence, and divine interference could have brought it about. Many instances of the visible protection and goodness of God towards the American states, have appeared from the beginning of the unhappy contest, between them and the ministry of this nation, to the present time; but in no instance has a divine hand so plainly appeared as in the present. God was gracious to them in raising them up friends in this land (and indeed, the people of England in general were far from approving the unnatural and horrid war), also in causing foreign powers to declare in their favour, in raising them up a noble and valiant general (whose name will be transmitted with immortal honour in the historic page, to the latest periods while histories shall be read); in supporting them during a long and expensive war, and in giving them such a glorious peace. But all these blessings and advantages would probably have been wholly lost, had not a solid and effective plan of government been formed and embraced. Their enemies both at home and abroad, waited to see their downfal and ruin; and even their best friends trembled for their situation, and feared their overthrow. Every appearance was truly alarming, and the dangers continued increasing, till at last the very existence of government seemed dubious.
In this distressing situation, recourse was had to a general convention, composed of the ablest persons in all the states, who were chosen by the people at large, to form a plan of government; but when met, they were not invested with power to declare such constitution binding, even after they had unanimously agreed upon it among themselves (which was difficult enough), it was to undergo another severe trial, by being examined by the people at large; and it was not to be in force till nine states agreed to adopt and ratify it. This appeared a very hazardous experiment; but, through the goodness of God, it succeeded well, and eleven states have acceeded to it, several of them unanimously. This new constitution is formed after the model of the British, without its defects; and bids fair to confirm and establish the liberties of the people in those states till the latest period; and I make no doubt, but the inhabitants of that empire in the year 1888, will (if the world continues in the same manner as at present) look back upon this year, with the same admiration, as the people here do upon the year 1688.
The states have certainly enjoyed advantages in framing their constitution, that no other people ever had; they have met in peace, and deliberated, and agreed upon a form of government, suitable to their situation; having the wisdom and experience of all nations and ages before them; as well as their own experience for twelve years; but considering their fallibility, and the possibility of defects, even in this constitution, they have left an opening that the inconveniences, if any are found, may be rectified every fifteen years, if it be judged necessary.
I have taken the liberty of mentioning the affairs of my dear native country, believing that you will rejoice with me in the prosperity of that land; for we have the satisfaction to say, that since we have been in England, we have scarce ever been in company with the natives of this island, but who in general seemed very friendly towards the United States of America. And I hope the affection between the two countries will continue and increase.
Thus far we are come, but who can tell what wonders are about to take place in the world? Those who may live in 1888, will be able to look back upon great events that will then have happened, that are now future. Though I cannot exactly tell you when the following great things will take place, yet they must all happen before the conflagration, according to the prophecies.
The Turkish empire is to be weakened, and by some means the way will be opened, and the Jews will return to their own land.
After they have been there settled some time, their enemies will gather together and ravage their country, come to Jerusalem and take it, will carry half of the people out into captivity; but before they have time to compleat their purpose, the Lord will appear in the air, he will bring the spirits of his faithful servants and martyrs with him, raise their bodies from the dead, change the living saints, who shall be caught up with the raised saints into the air to meet the Lord. Christ shall appear to all the inhabitants of the world, who shall tremble at his presence: the Jews shall look upon him whom they pierced, knowing him by the sears of his wounds, they shall mourn bitterly, and this event shall issue in their long promised conversion. The coming and appearance of Christ will destroy Antichrist, will overthrow and disconcert the enemies of the Jews, who shall fall slain upon the mountains of Israel. Christ will personally descend to the Mount of Olives, from whence he ascended; when his feet shall touch it, the mount shall cleave asunder, towards the east, and towards the west, and half of it shall remove towards the north, and half of it towards the south. The Lord will execute such judgments on the rebellious nations of the world, as shall cause the earth to disclose its blood, and the slain shall lie unburied; the nations who refuse to obey the command of the Lord, to come or send to Jerusalem yearly to worship him, shall have no rain upon their land.
The whole earth shall be as it were devoured with the fire of God’s jealousy, and the wicked shall be destroyed root and branch; all nations that remain shall submit to the Lord; Satan shall be bound, and confined in the abyss; all the twelve tribes being returned and settled anew in their own land, shall become the people of God; the Lord shall reign over them in his holy mount. He will turn to all the people of the earth a pure language, and they shall all call upon the name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent. Then comes that glorious period of a thousand years, when peace, harmony, prosperity, love, and the knowledge and glory of God shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. To that period vast numbers of prophecies allude, as I have shewn in my Lectures upon those which remain to be fulfilled. I cannot enlarge upon these matters here, having already drawn out this discourse to a great length; which I trust you will excuse, in consideration of the vast variety and importance of the subjects upon which I have spoken.
When we consider the great things which God hath wrought already; and those greater things which he hath promised to perform in his own time, we may say in the words of my text, with which I shall conclude:
“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods? who is like thee glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”
[NOTE TO 1996 REPRINTING]While the question of Stephen Case’s possible role in publication of the text following partly remains, the origin of the document now has been established. It is certain that Case is not the author of the pamphlet. Rather, it is an edited reprinting of a chapter bearing the identical title from a volume written a century earlier by Alexander Shields, A Hind Let Loose; or, An historical representation of the testimonies of the Church of Scotland for the interest of Christ… (n. p., 1687), pages 575–633, probably first published in Holland, with its author identified only as “A True Lover of Liberty.” Other editions appeared in 1744, 1770, and 1797. This important and much appreciated information was supplied to the editor by a Pennsylvania reader, James A. Dodson.