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A DISCOURSE ON NATIONAL SINS: Delivered May 9, 1798; BEING THE DAY RECOMMENDED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO BE OBSERVED AS A DAY OF GENERAL FAST.

By WILLIAM LINN, D.D. ONE OF THE MINISTERS OF THE REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH IN THE CITY OF NEW-YORK.

NEW-YORK: Printed by T. & J. SWORDS, No. 99 Pearl-street. 1798.

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PREFACE.

TWO motives, principally, have induced me to pub­lish the following discourse; the one is, that those who disapproved of certain parts may have an opportunity of giving them a second and dispassionate consideration; the other is, that the sentiments advanced appear to me highly seasonable, and ought to be diffused as extensively as possible. The discourse is printed, word for word, as it was written in the first copy; and only three sen­tences, which will be found marked, were forgotten at the time of delivery. This is mentioned to apologize for the inaccuracies which will occur, and which would have been corrected, had it not been judged best scrupu­lously to adhere to the very words, which all who were present can be called to attest.—The notes are entirely added.

There are some general objections which have been made to the discourse, of which it may be proper here to take a little notice. It has been said, that the sentiments are different from those contained in other publications of mine, particularly in the "Signs of the Times." [Page iv]That publication was made in 1794, and is the latest which can be alledged against me. The scope of that performance I still heartily approve. If, in prosecuting my main object, I expressed sanguine expectations from the revolution in France, both as to herself and to the world, thousands, in all countries, at the time, enter­tained the same, and have been equally disappointed. If the French nation have departed from their original prin­ciples, I am not obliged to follow them. I will be no advocate for enormities unequalled in the annals of man­kind; for principles which subvert all religion, morality and order, and which threaten to involve us, with the whole human race, in the utmost confusion and misery. Whatever may be the designs of God in these convul­sions, and though they shall certainly be made subservi­ent to his glory, yet we must not countenance or par­take in the wickedness of the instruments.

Again; it has been said, that it is improper to carry polities into the pulpit. This is a saying to which many have no precise idea affixed. If they mean, that it is improper to discuss political questions, and to espouse a particular party, they have reason on their side. But, if they mean, that the love of country, the duty of citi­zens, and obedience to lawful government, have no con­nection with religion, and that a Preacher ought not to inculcate these, I have not so learned Christ. Reli­gion, morality, and obedience to government, are inse­parably connected. The true christian faithfully and conscientiously endeavours to persorm all the duties of [Page v]his several stations and relations. The apostles were not politicians, and yet we find them strongly enjoining the duties which we owe as members of civil society.

Again; it has been said, that the discourse, admitting that it contains nothing but the truth, is not adapted to the occasion, and is also culpable for an imprudent dis­play of sentiments. As to the charge of unseasonable­ness, what can be more seasonable, on such a day, than to point out those sins which are the cause of divine judgments? Were we not called to confess and forsake these? Deplorable must be our situation, if we cannot bear even a recital of them. But, why speak so much about France? Because the danger from France was the very occasion of our fasting; her sins prevail among us; and her miseries exhibit to us an awfully instructive lesson.

As to imprudence, I have only to say, that the oc­casion seemed to demand great plainness and faithfulness. I become more convinced that silence has been kept too long, and that to persist in it will be attended with the most fatal consequences. Our enemies have already gotten too fast a hold; and they wish for nothing but to retain us in blindness and lukewarmness to accomplish our ruin. The shock which the discourse, as was to be expected, gave to some, will eventually prove bene­ficial. I anticipate the time when what is said will be thought moderate; when I shall be commended rather than censured; and I am contented to wait. The views of France are disclosing daily, and the film removing [Page vi]from our eyes. If, however, I am mistaken in all this, the charitable will impute the error to the head, and not to the heart, for I have no other interest than the best welfare of men. I love my God, I love my country, and I love my enemies.

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A DISCOURSE, &c.

JOSHUA vii. 13.

Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to-morrow; for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.

THE slightest consideration of the occasion of these words, will show that they are not im­properly chosen as the subject of discourse on this day. Notwithstanding the express command of God to the children of Israel, to save nothing for their own use in the destruction of Jericho, a man, named Achan, had taken from ‘among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels, and hid them in his tent.’ When they, afterwards, went up against Ai, God [Page 8]manifested his displeasure for the disobedience, by suffering their enemies to prevail. This great­ly discouraged the people, and afflicted Joshua. He humbled himself before God, and earnestly intreated his interposition. Joshua was then in­formed of the true cause of the calamity; and that, until reparation was made, the divine as­sistance would be withheld.

Although only one man was particularly charged, yet all are represented as having com­mitted a trespass, and they shared in the punish­ment. Others might have been guilty; or, at least, have had covetous desires, or have concealed what was done. But, if neither of these be ad­mitted, the precedent was extremely dangerous, and the community, of which the individual was a member, were to be considered as partakers of the sin, unless it was openly disclaimed.

The application of the text to our circum­stances as a nation, is natural and easy. For se­veral years past, one calamity has succeeded an­other, with little intermission, or we have been kept in a state of alarm. Though the cloud has not always burst, yet it has been continually hanging over us. All who acknowledge the ex­istence and government of God, must believe that these things befal us by his direction, and [Page 9]are tokens of his anger. ‘He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.’ There is an accursed thing in the midst of us. Why have we suffered by fires? Because of our sins. Why have we fallen by pestilence? Be­cause of our sins. Why have we been threatened with war? Because of our sins. Without re­formation, an entire removal of judgments is not to be expected. The rod may be taken away for a time, but it will return with double force. Punishments will follow sins, as sure as justice and judgment are the habitation of the eternal throne.

Danger impends, at present, from a quarter of which we had not once the smallest apprehen­sion, and of which we may not yet be sufficiently aware. It was hardly to be conceived, that so distant as we are from the scene of blood, studi­ous of peace, and desirous of doing justice to all nations, any circumstances should arise to involve us. We fondly dreamed, that the mighty crash of kingdoms would be like thunder heard remote. Least of all was it to be suspected, that a nation to whom we were enthusiastically attached, at whose victories we have rejoiced, whose crimes we have palliated, and whose injuries we have borne, should meditate our destruction. But, as they [Page 10]are the instrument, in the hand of God, for chas­tising the inhabitants of the old world for their iniquities, so they may be likewise used for our correction; or, he may mercifully intend to force us to a distance from them, to ‘come out from them, that we be not partakers of their sins, and that we receive not of their plagues.’ Though there is reason to hope, from the usual dispensations of Providence, that we are not doomed to ruin, and that we shall not be over­whelmed in the calamities of other nations, yet we may not escape unpunished. Numerous and aggravated as our offences are, we have not ‘wor­shipped the beast;’ and, rapid as our pro­gress has been in vice, we have not arrived at that height in which the righteous Governor of the universe gives command, ‘to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy.’

It is a matter, my brethren, of the most seri­ous and interesting inquiry, what those sins are, among us, with which God is justly displeased. To determine on these, we must consider the sins which abound in the community, are the most destructive of its peace and order, and which have been invariably punished. These appear to be—the inattention to family instruction and government—the neglect of the ordinances of [Page 11]divine worship, and of the due observance of the Sabbath—the abuse of temporal prosperity—the prevalence of infidelity—and the want of union. Other things might be particularized, but these are the principal, and more than will admit of a full discussion.

Think not that I unreasonably detain you by remarking, that it is impossible to speak, on an occasion like this, so as to satisfy all. If the duty of fasting and prayer be handled only in ge­neral, some will blame the Preacher for trim­ming; and he may even fall under the charge of unfaithfulness. If he touch on public affairs, then some will say, that he carries politics into the pulpit, and sides with a party. The best way is, to preserve a good conscience; neither to invite unnecessarily the resentment of the world, nor to dissemble, should it ensure the richest fa­vours.

FIRST, The inattention to family instruction and government is an evil we have to deplore. It is a sign of the decay of religion, and has most pernicious effects. Were persons rightly im­pressed with the importance of divine things, they would be solicitous for the best welfare of those whom Providence has committed to their care. In this respect, Abraham was a pat­tern. [Page 12]"I know him," saith God, ‘that he will command his children and his houshold after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.’ How few, at this day, deserve this glorious testimony! Who copy this illustrious pattern! Many act as though nothing more was required than to give their children human learning, and provide for their advancement to riches or honors: whereas, their happiness, and their service to society, depend much more on a religious education, and habits of industry and virtue, than on the finest talents, and the most improved understandings. What are all human acquirements, without a sound faith to direct? What can parents substitute as an equivalent for this? ‘What is a man pro­fited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ It is by early instruction in families, the force of good example, and pru­dent discipline, that persons are formed to be useful members in both Church and State. The influence of these is felt through the whole course of life. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’

On the contrary, when children are permitted to grow up without pious instruction, and to [Page 13]follow, without restraint, their own inclinations, they are likely to bring disgrace upon themselves, and ruin to society. The very foundations of order and morality are destroyed. Nor is the evil confined to the generation in which they live, but reaches to successive ones. Who is to teach when all are ignorant? What hope re­mains when the whole mass is corrupted?

We feel the dismal consequences of our neglect in this country, and, unless a speedy remedy is applied, must feel them yet more severely. To this is greatly to be ascribed those dangerous principles, and those dissolute manners, which prevail. The untutored youth is prone to ad­mit the suggestions of infidelity, and run into the utmost licentiousness. When his mind is not stored with divine truths, and he is unacquainted with the holy scriptures, or the evidence with which they are supported, he is easily persuaded to reject their authority. It may be well ques­tioned, whether the exclusion of the bible, as a school-book, is not highly improper. Children, by learning to read in this, obtain a knowledge of its contents, which they may never otherwise obtain. Many of its historical parts, its para­bles, and its precepts, make an indelible impres­sion upon them.

[Page 14] The importance of a religious education ap­pears from the injunction given to the children of Israel. ‘These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou fittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.’ The apostle also exhorts fathers to ‘bring their children up in the nurture and ad­monition of the Lord.’ The lamentable fai­lure in what has been mentioned, is connected,

SECONDLY, With the neglect of the ordi­nances of divine worship, and of the due observ­ance of the Sabbath. Many seldom or never present themselves in the house of God. The bells which summon to the place of public devo­tion, seem to be a signal to them to walk or ride abroad. Such are destitute of the fear of God, and, by their conduct, weaken the bonds of go­vernment. Were they above receiving instruc­tion, or if they thought religion necessary only to preserve peace and order, they ought to add the weight of their own example. Legislators will not govern men by all the laws which they can make, unless a sense of moral obligation is supported. Little as some of them may think [Page 15]of the necessity of public worship, and the con­tempt which they show, it is their securest hold and makes men ‘subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.*

The complaint which persons make of a cor­ruption of manners, and of the impatience under lawful government, is idle, while they themselves contribute to these with all their might. The neglect of public worship introduces immorality, which first disturbs, and then overturns the State. Some who were once punctual in the duty, mani­fest a coldness and indifference; or, if they do attend, have lost the spirit of practical godliness. Where are mediation, secret and family prayer, mutual and Christian converse, without which public ordinances are, in a great measure, un­profitable, and the attendance upon them de­generates into a lifeless form?

[Page 16] It cannot be supposed, that those who neglect divine worship pay a proper respect to the Sab­bath. No; many of them spend the time ei­ther in transacting their worldly business, or in vain amusements. They not only omit religious exercises, but engage in what is a direct profana­tion of the day. Too frequently, even with those who profess to reverence the command of God, are worldly conversation, criminal indo­lence, and unnecessary visits, indulged. This is one of the reigning sins, and for which the Lord has a controversy with us.

That this is a sin which brings judgments upon a people, is apparent from the dealings of God towards the children of Israel, and his many de­clarations. Their prosperity and adversity, as a nation, depended on the regard which they paid to the Sabbath. This charge is often brought against them; ‘My sabbaths they greatly pol­luted.’ No less than three times does it oc­cur in the same chapter, with a punishment denounced; ‘I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.’ It is mentioned as a sign of their de­generacy, [Page 17]that they said, ‘When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn, and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat.’

As the profanation of the sabbath drew down the divine displeasure, so, for the sanctification of it, blessings were promised. ‘Blessed is the man that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it.’ Again; ‘If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob, thy father; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.’

Who but might have anticipated the growing corruption of that nation, and its fearful calami­ties, which blotted the sabbath from the week! which abolished all times and forms of religious worship! This opened the floodgates of vice, and kindled the anger of the Lord against them. Not contented with removing superstition, and correcting abuses, they insidiously endeavoured to overturn the Christian religion itself. To say [Page 18]nothing of the monstrous wickedness, there was an extreme folly in their conduct. Of what ad­vantage their division of time? How vain to imagine that it can long continue, even among themselves; much more, that it will be adopted by others? Their intention was, evidently, to destroy religion; for they knew that while assem­blies were held for worship on the sabbath, there would be a memorial of Christ, and a testimony in favour of divine revelation.*

[Page 19] The same attempt to bring the sabbath into discredit, has been made, by some, with us. Publications have appeared for the purpose of showing, that it is not of divine institution, and that the observance of it is improper. Different as opinions may be about the utility of a legis­lative act on this subject, it is certain, that the neglect of the sabbath is an evil, in a political view, as it corrupts the morals of men, and ul­timately endangers the peace of society. Where-ever a disregard to the sabbath becomes univer­sal, there can be no religion, no morality, and no safe government.* Let me mention,

THIRDLY, That we have abused our tem­poral prosperity. Since the establishment of the new constitution, the prosperity of this country has been rapid and unexampled. The neutra­lity, [Page 20]with respect to contending powers, which was early taken, the wisdom, the impartiality, and the firmness of administration, have, under the blessing of heaven, highly advanced us.

But this prosperity has been made the occa­sion of sin. We have turned our liberty into licentiousness; for the richest bounties we have repaid ingratitude and discontent; we have been seized with the desire of suddenly amassing wealth; we have been led into criminal speculation; and success has administered to our luxury and our pleasures. The expensiveness of public build­ings, the variety of amusements, and the style of living, are far beyond what simplicity, sobriety, and prudence, ought to have dictated. We have cleaved to the gifts, and forgotten the giver; we have used them as our own, and not improved them for his glory; we have acted as though we were to continue here always, and there was no future state of account.

The almighty Rule, by his present dispensa­tions, gives us a salutary check, teaches us to feel and acknowledge his superintending providence, and the obligations which we owe him. Long continued prosperity is dangerous both to indi­viduals and societies. ‘Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown [Page 21]thick, thou art covered with fatness: then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.’ I hasten to say,

IN THE FOURTH PLACE, That the preva­lence of infidelity is a cause of divine judgments. Not many years ago, a professed deist, in this country, was rare. If any doubted, they were ashamed to avow it, and they had so much de­cency as not to ridicule what the generality of mankind held sacred. But infidelity is now no longer concealed. Its advocates are numerous, and propagate their sentiments with a brazen front. Formerly, some of the most celebrated infidels attacked the Christian religion indirectly; but we have seen it represented as a fable not even cunningly devised, as destructive of morality, and the source of innumerable miseries. We have seen it loaded with all manner of reproach, and a bold attempt made to eradicate it from the earth. From an American press have issued the most horrid blasphemies which have ever been uttered. From an American press issued the first part of the "Age of Reason;" and the se­cond part was re-printed here; a multitude of copies were imported, and circulated with un­common industry. Surely, if our ports be shut, [Page 22]it should be against such principles as these. Were it possible to lay an embargo on them in the country from which they come, it ought to be done; for they are infinitely more to be dreaded than all the fleets and armies of Europe.

Perhaps we may date the growth of infidelity among us, from the entrance of the French army. While they brought us the assistance we desired, and accelerated our independence, they leavened us with ungodliness; and it may yet be said of us, ‘The strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.’ Deism and atheism have long been propagated among that people, and at their revolution appeared in full maturity. Their very Clergy, the professed Ministers of the religion of Christ, headed by the Archbishop of Paris, came before the National Convention, and abjured the Christian religion, declaring that they considered it as an imposture. What else but horrid deeds were to be expected from those who gloried in the confession of their hypocrisy? What confidence can be placed in those who defy the Majesty of heaven and earth?*

[Page 23] There is, however, a more close alliance be­tween the principles of infidelity and the over­throw of government than many apprehend. How are we to account for the fact, that many of those who bluster about the mal-conduct of men in office, are avowed unbelievers? It is not meant to alledge, that all who are wild with false notions of liberty are in this class; or that none of the friends of tyranny are liable to the [Page 24]imputation; but that the most furious advo­cates for what they call the rights of man, are generally notorious infidels. There is a connec­tion between the two, and it is well understood by some of these men. It has been practised upon us. What was the main object of a pub­lication already mentioned? Besides the indul­gence of a ridiculous vanity, it was to produce a revolution; and it would have infallibly done this, had the principles pervaded the bulk of the citizens. This happy nation would now have been in the same unsettled, confused, and mi­serable state of France. The vain and con­temptible author thought he had accomplished the end, and that nothing more was necessary than to blow the trumpet of sedition, in his scur­rilous letter to our chief magistrate, at that time, and the first man in the world. When we see so much ignorance, misrepresentation, and false­hood, employed by a person against the holy scrip­tures, we may well suspect his political creed, and cannot safely resign ourselves to his direction.*

[Page 25] As to the connection between licentious opi­nions upon religion and upon government, a late writer, who includes the disciples of Socinus, gives the following account: ‘We may ex­pect, says he, "that they who, denying the necessity of a propitiatory sacrifice, presump­tuously lay claim to eternal happiness upon the ground of their own merit; and who de­grade the character of the divine Jesus into that of mere man, should endeavour to destroy all superiority in their fellow-creatures, and seek the gratification of their pride in the abo­lition [Page 26]of all worldly distinctions. The same captious and restless spirit, which leads men to cavil at the articles of our religious faith, and to reject the mysteries of the gospel, be­cause they surpass their comprehension, causes them to be dissatisfied with our civil constitu­tion, and to represent its essential parts as use­less and dangerous, because they do not agree with their own imaginary ideas of unattaina­ble perfection. We here observe the same temper of mind directed to different objects, a similar error in judging of the dispensations of God, and of the institutions of men: and this natural alliance between certain opinions in matters of Church and State, can alone ac­count for events.* This is the only so­lution I have seen attempted of a fact which has frequently occurred to my mind, and it appears to be a rational one. Let me add, that as some, led away by the names of can­dour, liberality, and free inquiry, are be­trayed into lax doctrines in religion, so there are some who, deceived by the names of liberty and equality, embrace principles utterly subver­sive of all peace and order. Unsuspecting of danger, they are deluded by these specious ar­tifices. [Page 27]The tree in paradise, of which our first parents were forbidden to eat, appeared to them "good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired to make on wise." "Ye shall not die," says the subtile serpent; "the prohibi­tion is arbitrary; assert your liberty; eat, and ye shall be upon an equality with gods." They ate, and ‘the mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe.’

Did time admit, it might be shown, that some form of religion is absolutely necessary for the support of civil government; that there never was a civilized nation without ceremonies of wor­ship; that the necessity of them is declared by heathen writers, and acknowledged by atheists themselves; and that the present appearance in France is monstrous; and so long as it exists, revolution must succeed revolution, torrents of blood flow after torrents, and the wretched inhabitants become a terror to themselves and all around them. Let Americans be warned by such a spectacle! Let them grow wise by what is past! Do we guard our coasts to prevent the introduction of pestilential disease? Guard them much more against this moral pestilence! It is worse than all the plagues of Egypt. We should esteem it a special blessing in this hour of danger, [Page 28]that we have a chief magistrate who is not ashamed of the gospel, and who publicly ac­knowledges, in his proclamation, the ‘Redeemer of the world’ and the "Holy Spirit." No army need invade, if licentious principles abound. These will do the fatal business, and blast, by an untimely death, the American Republic, the last and noblest work of God.* Bear with me while I mention,

[Page 29] ONCE MORE, The want of union as a mourn­ful evil. The division of professing christians is not now intended. On this, you are in full possession of my sentiments; but I refer to that party spirit which has disgraced and distracted our public councils. ‘We cannot stand before our enemies until we take away this accursed thing from among us.*

There are some who continually blame the measures of government for plunging us into the [Page 30]present difficulties; who impute to our rulers enmity to France, and partiality to Britain; who publicly alledge, that it has been the system to break with the one, and to join the other. But the secret is laid open; it is DISUNION. This has lessened us in the eyes of our enemies, and encouraged them in their repeated insults. This had led them to attempt a separation of the peo­ple from the government, and to think that their late insolent demands would be successful; yea, to threaten, that unless we complied, their ves­sels would ravage our coasts, and we would share the fare of other nations which they have over­turned. What was some time ago made the pretext for hostile measures, was not so much as hinted to our messengers of peace; but all their requisitions are enforced by an appeal to our weakness, and this weakness arising from friends here on whom they reckon. O France! at thy first revolution our hearts beat high with expec­tation; for thy help in our need, we felt the sin­cerest gratitude; when thou wast environed by numerous hosts, we alone acknowledged thy re­public; and when thou didst complain, we sent an honorable embassy renew and strengthen the bands of peace. Is it thus thou requitest us?

[Page 31] Nothing is more easy and common than to find fault with measures, when they prove un­successful. Perhaps the error, if there be any, is in not having spoken, from the first, in a bold and decided tone to whatever nation sought to impose upon us. Peace, so necessary and desira­ble, was the great object; it has been protract­ed; and if, at last, we are obliged to repel ag­gressions by force, we may confidently appeal to Him who "ruleth in the kingdom of men."*

Happily, union in the means of self-defence is daily gaining ground, in proportion as the transactions are understood. The question is not now about a form of government, but whe­ther we shall govern ourselves. It is not, whether the most proper measures have been pursued to [Page 32]obtain peace, but what is the effectual re­medy. THE CONTEST IS FOR NATIONAL SO­VEREIGNTY AND INDEPENDENCE. Spirit of seventy-six, whither art thou fled? Where the spirit that declared, ‘We never will submit to be hewers of wood, or drawers of water, for any ministry and nation in the world.’ Did unanimity and vigor once appear in our public councils, our enemies would relinquish their at­tempt as idle, or, if they did not, would be covered with shame and confusion. Even the unparalleled conqueror of Italy would have the laurels snatched from his brow, and be covered with willows.

War is, indeed, a dreadful calamity. It is justifiable on no principle but that of self-defence. Through the kind interposition of Heaven, it was averted, when, a few years ago, it seemed to be at hand. Negociation was successful. Negociation has been tried again—open—fair— and liberal. It has been spurned. Money has been demanded, but no security given for peace. Sums have been fixed, but accompanied with a hint, that more would be expected. What assurance that such rapacity would ever be satis­fied? To hearken to these claims is disgrace, to comply with them is death. Look at Ve­nice, [Page 33]at Belgium, at Switzerland. Look, above all, at Holland, the country of your ancestors, and if you inherit a drop of blood from those brave Dutchmen who, in former years, so nobly asserted their privileges—Holland, the store­house of the world, the nursery of arts, learning and religion, has lost her eminence among the nations. She is dictated to, exhausted by con­tributions, her youth infected with infidelity, her commerce annihilated, and is little better than a province of France. How is the glory departed since the admission of a foreign master! How ignoble do men become when they willingly stoop to oppression! They are like asses couch­ing down under their burdens.

I have not specified among our sins gaming, tipling, profane swearing, railing, lying, and other immoralities. They are the native fruits of ir­religion, and abused prosperity. Nor has there been taken into the enumeration, the retention of a multitude of our fellow-creatures in slavery. Besides, that this could not be so fully stated as it ought, there are many circumstances which forbid it. Prudence may condemn the most distant reference, but conscience remonstrates against an entire silence We know where we are most vulnerable; and melancholy is the tale [Page 34]of St. Domingo. O thou Judge of the earth! incline us to do all the justice we can, and when thou visitest ‘the iniquity of the fathers upon the children,’ in wrath remember mercy!

HAVING considered the sins most prevalent among us, let us sincerely confess and forsake them. This is the important duty for which our excellent President has recommended to us to assemble on this day. He, impressed with a sense of the sins of the land, saw the necessity of deep humiliation; and, from the distinguished part he acted in our revolutionary war, knew that our safety depended on the favour and pro­tection of almighty God. How innocent soever we may be in provoking the assaults of men, we have grievously transgressed the divine law. Each of us is addressed this day in the words of Joshua to Achan; ‘My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him.’ Let us remember that each, by his personal sins, adds to the sins of the commu­nity; that the reformation of the one is the re­formation of the other; and that, had we not contributed to the stock of iniquity, the sins of others should excite our sorrow. "Go," said the Lord, ‘through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark [Page 35]upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’

If we thus turn from the evil of our ways, we will have nothing to fear. The same God who hath so often and so remarkably interposed in our behalf, will again plead our cause. We live in an eventful period. What will be the issue as to France herself, to the other nations in Eu­rope, or as to ourselves, is beyond conjecture. We are only assured, that ‘the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.’ We have already seen the power of the Church of Rome, if not destroyed, yet receiving its death would. What more designs of Providence shall be ful­filled by the present convulsions, are unknown. The words of the Lord respecting Assyria are so remarkable as to demand our attention here. ‘O Assyrian, the rood of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit, he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart [Page 36]to destroy, and cut off nations not a few. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion, and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of As­syria, and the glory of his high looks.’ What follows is no less remarkable, and the whole pas­sage recorded in Isaiah, 10th chapter, from the 5th to the 19th verse, is full of instruction as to the ways and dealings of Providence towards nations.

Let the children of God trust and rejoice in him; and let those who are living in disobedi­ence speedily make their peace with him, through his Son Jesus Christ, whom he hath ‘set forth as a propitiation for sin.’ If, as a people, we are corrupt and vicious, judgments must be ex­pected; and if, as individuals, we continue to reject the gospel, future and eternal misery must be our portion.

Next to the duties which we owe immediately to God, are those which we owe to one another, in the support of the constituted authorities, and the defence of our civil and religious privileges. Unnatural children we are, if, when that coun­try which holds all that is dear to us is threatened, we do not breathe one spirit, and exert one [Page 37]strength; if we do not renounce all partialities to this or to the other nation, be they who they will; and if we do not banish all party dissensions for the name of AMERICAN.*

To conclude, Let us earnestly pray that our Counsellors may be inspired with integrity, wis­dom, firmness, and unanimity, in the manage­ment of our national affairs; that the desolations of war may soon cease unto the ends of the earth; that universal righteousness may prevail, and that this transporting anthem may be sung by all na­tions: ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’

AMEN.

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