AFTER the exercises of the day were concluded, the Committee for the day met, and appointed ELI CURTISS, Esq. YOUNG L. CUTLER, and WM. J. PUNDERSON, to wait on the REV. ISRAEL B. WOODWARD, and return him the thanks of the Committee, for his truly sentimental and patri­otic DISCOURSE, pertinent to the Liberty and Inde­pendence of America;—and in behalf of themselves, and at the desire of the Audience, request a Copy for publication.

Chairman of said Committee.


IT is no uncommon thing, that the inhabitants of these United States are addressed upon the Anni­versary day of American Liberty and Independence. This day has been periodically observed, and very suitably celebrated, by some of the first towns in this and in each of the States. It is a day, on which have been exhibited the ablest performances of the accom­plished Scholar, the zealous Patriot, and the pro­found and sagacious Politician. It is not, therefore, with a vain desire, or the least expectation of any thing extraordinary, that this humble Village has de­voted a few hours to this Anniversary Celebration; nor is it to serve the immoral purposes of extrava­gance, pride, and dissipation;—but it is to manifest that attachment to the best interests of our country, which is as sensibly felt in the smallest town, as the greatest city.

The occasion of our assembling will not be mis­improved, if we rightly consider those subjects, which the day will naturally call to our remembrance.

What is better calculated to excite becoming thoughtfulness, and even seriousness, than to turn our attention back to the memorable Fourth of July, 1776,—when the bloody sword of tyranny was un­sheathed against an infant and inoffensive country,—when a dreadful necessity was layed upon us to teach a King and Nobles that we prized our just rights [Page 4] dearer than life,—when from the peaceful shades of domestic retirement, the father and the son were called to bid adieu to an affectionate wife and sister, and hurry away to the field of battle? A recollection of these things come nigh the heart; and while we contemplate upon them, we feel resolved to be Free and Independent.

If any thing more be requisite to awaken your so­briety, turn a thought to the present treachery, fe­rosity and inhumanity of the Five-headed Monster of France. Consider that you are called at this day, to brave the insults and depredations of a new enemy;—that the magnanimity of the American hero must once more be roused up, against an arm grown haughty by repeated successes, and against a policy that has become selfish and unjust, by principles of Infidelity and Atheism. To provoke you to becom­ing resentment, take an imaginary prospect of the renewal of the bloody scenes of war, of your cities laid in ashes, of your brethren slain with the sword, of your wives and daughters ravished by beastly, dis­ordered Frenchmen, and of the rising hope of pos­terity blasted. Behold the war worn patriot, with his dusty brow, and numerous scars, arraying him­self again for the fight. See him abandoning his companion, children, and home, leaving the enjoy­ment of that peace which, in years past, he won by his fatigue and bravery. See his wounds, long since healed, bleeding afresh, and his life hazarded to the uncertainty of battle, that he, that his country, may continue to enjoy the sweets of a free and independent people.

The attention and candor of this respectable Au­ditory, is now particularly invited to a few general observations upon American Liberty and Independence.—I speak of a Liberty and an Independence pecu­liar to America; because these terms are never to be [Page 5] understood without some limitation; especially is their signification vague, when the slave of a tyrant▪ and the meanest ingredient of a mob, claim them in common with the inhabitants of the United States. The English stile themselves a free and independent people; the French claim an only prerogative to this appellation; but the east is not farther from the west, than the sentiments of either from those of true Americans.

The Liberty enjoyed by the people of the United States, regards the privileges which their own go­vernment and laws secure to them, and does not con­sist in no government at all, but in that which con­tributes most to the national interest and happiness.

It is not the genius of our Union, although it has been charged with it by the partizans for French po­licy, to advocate the leading principles of the Eng­lish government▪

Long before the Independence of the American co­lonies, even while they recognized allegiance to the Crown, the dawn of Liberty was visible among them. From the first settlement of this country, not only its local situation, but the measures pursued by its inhabitants, presaged its future liberation from the British government. It was not indeed a spirit of lawless revolt and revolution, that induced our fathers to abandon their native shore, to trust them­selves to the mercy of a boisterous ocean, and finally to an uncultivated wilderness: It was the fullest con­viction, that any restraints imposed upon the con­science, by arbitrary power, were wholly unjust and insufferable. The penal laws, enforcing conformity, which disgraced the persecuting reign of James the First, appeared more terrible to them than all the suf­ferings and dangers attendant upon an emigration to the wilds of America, inhabitated by savage tribes [Page 6] more wild than the country itself. This liberty of conscience, in matters and Religion, is always intimately allied to civil liberty, and it could not be that they should long be kept separate. The regulations and by-laws, which, from time to time, were enacted by these first settlers, however imperfect and absurd, (as it must be confessed many of them were) are a stand­ing proof that they were averse to royalty, and many things in the English government.

Since the Independence of these States, through the rapid progress which they have made in science, po­litics, and Religion, never have they expressed a de­sire to return to the leeks and onions of monarchy. The title of King, and the reproachful epithet of Ty­rant, have vibrated in their ears the same sound, and in their measures of government, they have not ap­proximated towards that fatal point, where the Su­preme Executive of a nation is confined to an hered­itary succession, and posterity are irretrievably bound to adore a man, and a man too in whose undeifyed, deifyed promotion, they could have no suffrage.

They have also justly dreaded those orders of Lords and Nobles, which, in Great-Britain, are bowed down to, as are the inferior Gods of the Heathen. Nor have they suffered their watchfulness to abate against a proud and factious Aristocracy. That unnecessary distinction between the rich and the poor, the great and the small, which aggrandizes a few, and enslaves the rest of mankind, as far as the wide limits of monarchy extend, has ever been the abhorrence of Americans. The least attention to these things, furnishes a proof how widely these United States differ, in respect to their liberty, from Great-Britain.

But it is an unhappiness to which this imperfect world is liable, to hasten from one baleful extreme [Page 7] into its opposite. The dread of tyranny, has driven thousands inconsiderately to abuse all power, and to plunge themselves down from the miseries of despotic government, into the deeper distresses of anarchy and confusion. This conduct savours more of folly, than of wisdom, and resembles nothing so much as that of the French nation.

The American States have with equal care avoid­ed this extreme. They have shunned the most pro­minent features in French policy; not simply because such policy was Gallic, but because they deemed it incompatible with real liberty and happiness.

The Speaker pretends not to understand much of the policy and civil institutions of France. That go­vernment, if such it may be stiled, varies so often, and appears in so many shapes, there is no comparing of it to any thing in nature. It is a baloon-like-Ma­chine, lighter than ethar, and carried, no one knows where, by the gas of popular breath. It is quite camelion coloured and undiscribable, deceiving the eye of every beholder. Nothing can be more un­like to this, than the government of the American States. The Constitution adopted 1780, bears tes­timony to the partial fondness of these States, for an energetic government; and this reasonable partiality is further witnessed by the New-Constitution, form­ed 1788. As an evidence of the regular and uni­form attachment of these States to government,—look to the highest Chair in the Union, and you will find it filled by a Man, who has ever been the confidence of his country—The man who was belov­ed in 1776, is beloved, revered, and honored in 1789. It is not so in France, with those men who were the principal agents in the revolution. They have first reared a Guillotine to support their political prin­ciples, and then have they taught the world, the in­justice of their conduct, by being the first whose [Page 8] necks came under the ax. So dreadful have been the consequences of many a faction, and so despotic the measures of an ungovernable populace, in different ages of the world, that Americans can never consent to sacrifice their government, for the French hue and cry, Liberty and Equality. They would prefer the despotism of Charles the First, to that anarchy, which attended his decapitation, and prepared the way for a fraudulent Usurper.

The liberties of the American and French nations, are grounded upon totally different and opposite prin­ciples. In their matters of civil government, they adopt this general maxim, that mankind are virtuous enough to need no restraint; which idea is most justly reprobated by the more enlightened inhabitants of the United States, who denominate such liberty, licentiousness; and the fruit of it, corruption; to whom it appears as ominous of national mortality, as the most established consumption does of bodily death.

Building upon such principles, they have struck a most revengeful blow at the foundation of all Reli­gion. They have taken the most effectual method to remove from the mind of man every restraint, which a belief in God, and a future state, must ne­cessarily impose; and to destroy from his breast, all sense of propriety, with every conscientious tie. As­suming to themselves the character of the fool, des­cribed by King David, they decree—NO GOD.—On the gates of their burying grounds, and on the doors of their vaults, they order this impious inscription to be written in capitals—DEATH IS AN ETERNAL SLEEP.—To such the liberty, rather the blasphemous licentiousness of the American govern­ment! This country abhors that fell Monster, falsely named Liberty. She believes that such policy is to­tally inconsistent with the freedom of any nation; as [Page 9] it destroys national confidence; as it leads to injus­tice, oppression, and cruelty; as it opens a door for tyrannical usurpation, and as it renders the liberties, properties, and lives of her citizens more insecure, than if respited at the option of a tyrant. What liberty, what safety can there be to that people, who are artfully cajoled into the idea, that there is no meritorious distinction between an honest man, and a knave?

As national character may go a great way to il­lustrate the wisdom, or folly of national policy, we need only take a view of the manners and conduct of the French people, in order to be satisfied how great the difference is, between their professed, and our real liberty. If we view them in common life, under the present administration of their government; in­surrection, riot, and murder, mark their footsteps. If in the cabinet; treachery, intrigue, and violence. If in their intercourse with foreign nations; the vio­lation of the most sacred treaties, piratical depreda­tions upon commerce, and the most arbitrary usurpa­tions of other rights. It is needless to say before this Audience, that such conduct is reprobated by every American, as inconsistent with real liberty, po­licy, or justice. Nor shall I pay an undue compli­ment to my country, by saying, that she scorns to violate the sacred laws of nations; disseminate prin­ciples of Atheistical madness over the world; and conduct like the whole political body of that dis­jointed nation.

It is not pretended, that the government of these United States is perfect:—A perfect human govern­ment was never known:—It is probable, such a go­vernment never will exist. That which best pro­motes the public welfare, must ever secure the great­est desirable Liberty to any people, let their govern­ment [Page 10] pass by what name it will. We boast not that every American is free—meaning that every villain in America is suffered to act out whatever his wicked heart suggests—This would be to glory in our own shame. Nor do we boast of being a free people, when dependant on a tyrant's will: This would be glorying in imaginary freedom. But when all the principal officers in government are filled by the suffrages of the people,—when all participate in the privilege of free and frequent elections,—when law restrains injustice, and encourages virtue and indus­try,—when learning, and every useful art and science are promoted;—when every man may enjoy all that peace, liberty, and property, which is his just and unalienable right,—when men may serve God ac­cording to the dictates of their own conscience, pro­vided they disturb not the public tranquility—Then [...] a people possessed of all that liberty, which the nature of man, and the condition of this world can well admit; and considering the imperfection of both, perhaps the government of these American States, approaches as near to the zenith of real liber­ty, as it is possible it should.

But e'er I am aware, I shall trespass upon those observations, which this day demand should be made upon American Independence. American Independence regards the rights, which these States claim in respect to a foreign power. It is of a more extensive signi­fication than Liberty,—as it embraces and protects liberty, and all our civil and religious privileges. It implies,—"that we have full power to levy wars, conclude peace, contract alliances, and do all other acts and things, which of right, belong to any peo­ple," without being responsible▪ or tributary to any power on earth.

So often have your minds been lead to a conside­ration of the cause of the separation of the American [Page 11] States from Great-Britain, that even a brief narra­tion of the facts, relative to that separation, would be tiresome and improper, did we not deem it im­portant never to forget, and never to suffer posterity to forget so glorious an event. This, therefore, is all the apology I would offer, for relating before you, a few of those facts, which ought to be familiar to the mind of every youth.

A few years since, a daring attempt was made by Great-Britain, to subject these States to her lawless dominion, and render them tributary to the Crown. The arbitrary motives of the British parliament, were first openly displayed in the famous, rather infamous Stamp Act, passed 1765. These motives were after­wards confirmed, by duties layed upon several kinds of merchandize, to be paid by the Colonies.—These repeated aggressions upon our just rights, soon roused the indignation of a people, who could make reply to the Crown in the spirited language of the Apostle to the chief Captain,—I was born free—Murmuring soon arose among the Colonists, that they were taxed by a government, in which they had no representation. The discontents of the peo­ple soon reached the British government; and not­withstanding arbitrary measures were pursued, yet America was not destitute of friends, who modestly espoused her cause, and prophesied unsuccessfulness to their proceedings.

However, the British Cabinet inflamed at oppo­sition, hurried on by avarice, envious at our in­creasing prosperity, and jealous of a growing power, attempted to enforce its arbitrary measures by use of arms. This brought matters to a precipitate crisis. America was Federal in an instant. She ceased to remonstrate at a court, where every proposition was scorned, and a deaf ear lent to every complaint. By a solemn appeal to the Ruler of the universe, for [Page 12] the rectitude of her intentions, she made the follow­ing Declaration, July 4th, 1776:—"In the name, and by the authority of the inhabitants of the United Colonies, we are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; and are absolved from all allegi­ance to the British Crown; and all connection between us and the King of Great-Britain, is totally dissolved."

This declaration was not the result of passion, or the soon extinguished blaze of enthusiasm. It arose from the deepest conviction, that the parliament was tyrannical in her public measures, and aimed at no­thing so much as the subjugation of these States, to her authority. Governor Pownal, a man well ac­quainted with the feelings of the American people, said publicly in the House of Commons, that the adherence of the Colonies to their native rights—"was not to be understood as though it were only the pretences of party leaders, and demagogues; as though it were only the visions of speculative enthu­siasts; as though it were the mere ebullition of a faction that must soon subside; as though it were only temporary or partial:—It is, said he, the cool, determinate, principled maxim, of every man of bu­siness in the country."

This address, disregarded as it was, was verified by the event. Upon the declaration of American Independence, ensued a long, expensive, and bloody war, in which thousands of lives were lost—the Bri­tish nation disgraced—and the Independence of Ame­rica secured. The war terminated in 1782, since which time, every patriotic American has held this Independence dear, and I trust, still holds it so.

While we commemorate the birth-day of the li­berty and glory of our country, if not of the whole world,—let none suppose, that we would sooner be [Page 13] enslaved to a popular than a regal government. The same noble and generous heart, that animated our brave countrymen to resist the arbitrary demands of one nation, is still inherent in every American. The reason why resistance was made to the measures of the English government, was not because that go­vernment was regal—but because it was oppressive.—Oppression will as soon be resisted if it come from any other quarter. Independence is a fire in every American, that will burn equally well—whether it be kindled by an easterly, or a westerly wind;—whether a cruel King, or a ferocious Populace en­deavour to destroy it.

That the Independence of the United States is again threatened, I need not urge before an Audience, whose breasts burn with just indignation against the bar­barious treatment of the French Directory. It has be­come a matter of but too general notoriety, what un­grateful returns she has made to us, for the fond at­tachment we cherished for her in a day of adversity. It is not long since the combined powers of almost all Europe were leagued against her. They were ready to "swallow her up alive, or whole as they that go down to the pit." At that time we did not scruple to exchange with her terms of the most cordial, recip­rocal and sincere friendship. Animated with the fond hope, that the liberty of young America was giving free­dom to millions, who had for centuries groaned un­der the iron chains of despotism. Vive la Republique, was the ardent desire and general voice of every American. But behold the duplicity, the fickleness, and above all, the ingratitude of that inconstant na­tion! They have violated the most sacred Treaty;—they have repeated their depredations upon our com­merce;—they have insidiously endeavoured by spies, and intriguing characters, to sound the principles of our policy, and the feelings of our countrymen, and carry home news. Their Ambassadors, leaving the [Page 14] man of probity and honor behind them, have acted the part of dictators and disturbers of the general peace, rather than that of the principled agents of a foreign power. They have not only treated our Envoys with coldness and disesteem, but have fasti­diously endeavoured to warp their stedfast integrity.—They have bantered them with all the lowlived round-about of a jockey-club, imperiously demand­ing, for their own use, such a sea-port as they should name, and such a President as they should see fit to put at the head of our government; and finally mo­ney, and a great deal of money, as the only terms upon which they would make other proposals equally as unjust and extraordinary. Such you are sensible is the threatening aspect of French policy towards these American States.

Such a day as this, my Audience, calls up anew, the spirit of 1776.—That spirit▪ like the fire of Vesta, will never be extinguished. The sound of oppres­sion has for more than two and twenty years, and will for ages to come be succeeded with the old De­claration,—"We are, and of right ought to be, a Free and Independent people." It is ever laudable to go back to the origin of our Independence, and celebrate that distinguished day; but thrice laudable must it be considered in the present important aera in our public situation. As a willing mind, and heroic dis­position, with the blessing of God, was all the pre­paration necessary to maintain our Independence a­gainst the claims of a King, the same invincible ar­moury will defend it still, against the wicked en­croachments of a popular assembly.

But the observations that have now been submitted to the attention and candor of this brilliant Assem­bly, might lose the effect they are designed to have, were they not duly enforced. I trust we are not bi­gotted in our estimation of American Liberty and In­dependence, [Page 15] or enthusiastic in our endeavours to sup­port them. If they be not maintainable upon a ra­tional foundation, let them fall.

What is admissible in a discourse like this, to shew how excellent our Constitution and laws are in theo­ry, is already aticipated under the article of Liberty. Let it suffice to say, that we verily believe our go­vernment to be the best possible for our country, and essential to its interest, and happiness—And it being our just right, we ought inviolably to support it.—Shall we then, abandoning it, plunge ourselves into the dark abyss of visionary speculation?—Shall we barter it away for the dangerous consequences of re­volutionizing? This would be the height of folly; it would be French madness in the extreme.

But theories are visionary,—we must appeal to ex­periment. And have not the smiles of an auspicious Providence beamed their brightness upon us since we have been a Free and Independent people? Under what government in the known world have a people ever enjoyed both civil and ecclesiastical privileges, equal to these United States? What infant nation is delineated upon the pages of history, that has made such rapid advances in literary and useful improve­ments? I should not particularize an individual among the literati of America, did not justice to this Town demand it, which is acknowledged to have given birth to one, whose Mc'Fingal has exposed the mad­ness of a day; whose matchless wit and satire has clothed with sickening shame the brazen brow of vice, and lighted up a joyful smile upon the fair face of conscious virtue. Let the improvements that have been made in agriculture, commerce, and naviga­tion, speak for themselves. Experience has already proved, that every thing in which our national in­terest consists, is promoted by that freedom which we possess. "Why" (asked an English nobleman in [Page 16] former time) "are the inhabitants of the rich plains of Lombardy, where nature pours her gifts in such profusion, less opulent than the mountains of Swit­zerland?"—The answer was,—Because Freedom, whose influence is more benign than sunshine and zephyrs,—who covers the rugged rock with soil; drains the sickly swamp, and clothes the brown heath in verdure;—who dresses the laborer's face with smiles, and makes him behold his increasing family with de­light and exultation. FREEDOM has abandoned the fertile fields of Lombardy, and dwells upon the rug­ged mountains of Switzerland. If such an encomi­um was passed upon the Liberty of the Swiss Can­tons, how much more may we pass a panegyric upon the government of United America? Shall we not then be attached to it, as to that in which consists our national honor, respectability, and glory.

The deplorable consequences which must follow from the sacrifice of our Liberty and Independence, form another motive of attachment to it. On the the one hand, Tyranny sways his iron sceptre, and the drawn sword is pointed at the vitals of liberty. On the other, the destroying system reaches forth her tremendous jaws, as if greedy to absorb the universe. England, and every monarchy in the world, doubt­less hope, and probably expect, that the French go­vernment will work its own ruin. France entertains as full a persuasion that the reign of Kings is nearly ended. While the United States observe a happy neutrality, it is certain that they will be the jealousy, if not the envy of both. But should they, leaving their own government, side with either, what Ame­rican can anticipate the consequences without trem­bling? It seems an adopted opinion, that the present extraordinary commotions in Europe, must finally ter­minate in the firmer establishment of despotism, or in the more extensive spread of disorganization and licen­tiousness. The one must make the world a Bastile; [Page 17] the other a Chaos. It is needless to say which state would be the most miserable:—Heaven avert from these States the miseries of either. This view of the state of our Union, ought to convince us of the ne­cessity of adhering strictly to our own Constitution, while we do not unnecessarily intermeddle with that of England or France. Never was there a time since the establishment of our government, when a steadier hand was needed to direct it, or firmer pa­triots to support it. This vessel, with Sylla on the one hand, and Carybdis on the other, requires the eye of an eagle to watch its motion, and the dex­terity of a skilful pilot to vary the rudder with the current, and the sails with the wind.

An additional motive of attachment to our happy government must arise from the consideration, that it is the production of American wisdom. The politi­cians and legislators of Monarchies, either court the favour, or dread the frowns of a tyrant;—those of democracies—that of the populace. Under these temptations and embarrassments, it would be a mir­acle for them to form a system, which Americans would deem only tolerable. But the wisdom exer­cised in forming our Constitution and laws, was not adulterated with such poison. Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, and not to forget Sherman, Elsworth and others, who have done immortal ho­nour to their memories in the Cabinet; have been peculiarly free from motives of corruption. Be­ing born and educated in this land, they could but be acquainted with its genius, numbers, local situa­tion, and strength; and what is more to be desired, would naturally be attached to its interests. They are men, whom a country burthened with riches and luxury had not corrupted,—and whom an ignorant and barren country had not debased. They are men, whose views of things were extensive, and whose [Page 18] dispositions were apparently benevolent. United and persevering in their opinions, they have recommend­ed that form of government, under which we live to our approbation and acceptance. In such men, we believe, that real political wisdom must reside. If the great body of the people, who are but slightly versed in politics, complain of this government, where will they go to find a better? Will they seek national repose upon the icy bed of tyranny, or upon the burning coals of democracy? Permit me to speak with warmth. Those men who labor to excite dis­satisfaction among the people on account of the pre­sent government, or its administration, or loosen the ties of attachment to it, are a disgrace to the Ame­rican name.—They have not a feeling of that pa­triotism which signalizes the sons of freedom; nor a spark of that benevolence which desires the reform­ation of the world.

Consider further, American Liberty and Indepen­dence have been maintained by our country's valour. Had they come to us without a price, we might ex­pect, that although they were taken from us, their return would be easy and expeditious. But they have been grasped at by tyranny, and required the most distinguished heroism to retain and establish them. They are now grasped at, threatened, under­mined by a furious democracy. When we reflect with what toil and magnanimity—with what perseverance and greatness of spirit they have been purchased;—shall we desire to forsake them, and hazard the ex­periment of changing them for a constitution, that is not recommended by a trait of American valour?—Turn up an eye to the pinnacle of fame:—There sits Washington, who, in the establishment and main­tainance of our government, has afforded an exam­ple of heroism to the world. He has wisely project­ed, bravely fought, and gloriously conquered. His name, his character, his atchievements, his virtues, will [Page 19] live in the remembrance of the world, and the praises of the virtuous, till tradition is lost, and the pen of the poet and historian forget to move; or till a de­generate world, seduced by the licentious principles of the European ILLUMINATI, despise all sense of propriety, and cease to distinguish between the wor­thy and the base. Look also at the politic, the sted­fast, the worhty ADAMS, who, as a reward for his well proved bravery and patriotism, is invited to dignify the first seat in government. To enumerate all those who survive the late American war, in which they did immortal honor to their country, would be to count the luminaries of the heavenly world. In these men do we see that heroism by which the Union of the American States has been consolidated,—and their government established? Shall we then suffer our attachment to government to abate?—Shall we be guilty of such ingratitude to men who have done, and suffered so much for us? We may relinquish our pleasures, we may sacrifice our property, but never may we squander away the services of our countrymen.

Lastly, let it be remembered, that the Liberty and Independence of America, has been maintained by the blood of her citizens. This day the remembrance of Warren, at Bunker-hill; of Montgomery, at the fortifications of Quebec; of Mercer, on the plains near Princetown; of Worster, and of many oth­er gallant officers from the several places, where it was destined by Heaven, that they should fall—demand a sigh and a tear, the choicest, the most be­coming tribute we can pay to their memories.—And when this Town remembers one of her sons to have been instantly severed before the cannons mouth, and his own brother at another time, to have expir­ed by the tortures of unfeeling Britons,—she will not withhold a sympathetic tear, although in fighting for the common cause of their country, they held but a private station. Should we disregard the go­vernment [Page 20] of the U. States, and fondly cherish the new­born Monster of French revolution,—would not the blood of the deceased, testify to our ingratitude, and upbraid our guilt? Should we not be beset by a Host of the accusing spirits of those friends to our coun­try, who, in the late war, sealed their attachment to it, by their wounds and death? Justice, humani­ty, and Heaven forbid, that in the future history of our country, such an event should be recorded,—so black a page should ever be found.

Let us then rally round the standard of govern­ment in defence of our lives, liberties, and proper­ties; in support of our peace, honor, and happiness. Let us keep unfurled the banners of independence.—Let us now and forever have layed up in our hearts, an offering of attachment to our country, freely to be bestowed in an hour of danger. Let this offer­ing have in it no ingredient of base selfishness, treach­ery, and cowardice; but let it be the pure offering of love, and a generous magnanimity, that will sacrifice property, repose, and life itself, for the public good.

To effect this patriotic, and truly benevolent purpose, it is indispensibly necessary that we be united, stable, wathful in all our public concerns, and especially careful to maintain public and private virtue.—Unanimity is the strength of a nation:—While it continues one, in sentiment and affection, it has no­thing to fear from within; but parties and divi­sions make a war at home, and bring it into our own houses. If we are united, we have nothing to fear from without; like a bundle of rods, while bound together by the general attachment to government, we shall never be broken. Let our Union be once separated, and where are we? It is but too well known to all, what advantage has already been taken of us in consequence of that party spirit, and those party men, which have disgraced America. The old [Page 21] spirit of whig and tory, has been revived in the mo­dern government and democratic parties. The French, intent upon intrigue, bribery, and seduction, have art­fully sown the seeds of discontent, and revolution, in several parts of our Union. Blessed be God, their despotic and haughty conduct of late, seems at once, to have opened the eyes of those men, who, but late­ly, advocated their cause with so much warmth. Is it not with pleasure, that we can now announce the triumph of unanimity? Doubtless we have enemies to government, who long to see the United States overrun, and plundered by a shagged banditti of the Sans Culottes. But these, few in number, dejected with the prospect of ill success, and oppressed with guilt and shame, make but a miserable figure, or none at all. With how great satisfaction can we speak of the late political regeneration of the South­ern States; who are now joyfully embracing the right hand of their sister New-England. Their zeal is now founded on knowledge, and the prevalent dis­position from New-Hampshire to Georgia, promises a lengthy enjoyment of our national felicity. All, some base and impotent individuals excepted, are united, and ready to suffer, bleed and die, rather than to see America trampled under foot by a haugh­ty, imperious, and infidel populace, who know no right but their own fickle and arbitrary will.

But no more necessary is unanimity than stability; especially, when on one day, we are courted and beset with bribes, and on the next, threatened and assaulted,—when two powerful, artful, and un­friendly nations, are contending to draw us over to their interests. The surprising change that has taken place in the feelings of this people, towards France and Great-Britain within a short period of time, evinces above all things, the necessity of stability in all our public measures. The other day, success was drank [Page 22] to the arms of France; but now the general voice is an execration against that miserable and pitiable peo­ple. Mankind vary in their feelings, as the pendu­lum of a clock vibrates, even when these vibrations are hazardous in the extreme. The ebb and flow of popular opinion, is often very great; and as the stream is now rapidly retiring from the coasts of France, there is danger lest it flow too copiously to­wards those of England. Happy would it be for the nation, were she more stable and uniform. A care­ful and unvarying adherence to government only, will carry us safely through the present storm of na­tional uproar and confusion.

If we are friends to our country, we shall certain­ly be watchful over its interests. Nothing could be more impolitic in us, while we are attached to our government, than to disregard the character and con­duct of our rulers. The rulers of a people ought to be watched with a jealous eye, in every government; and there is no reason why prudence should not dic­tate this, as well to Americans as Europeans. Man­kind are naturally selfish, aspiring, and treacherous. Political information is, with the utmost difficulty, diffused among the great body of the people. Sinis­ter ends are often easily effected. Watchfulness is therefore indispensible. The utmost attention should be payed to the characters of those whom we annu­ally qualify to fill the first seats in government. Carelessness in respect to such men, might endanger all our civil, and religious privileges, and eventual­ly reduce us to a state of complete vassalage, or anar­chy. Nothing, in a day like this, will apologize for any inattention to the motions of any foreign na­tion towards us. It would be worse than stupidity itself, not to put ourselves in a posture of defence, when the most threatening preparations are making against us. Of all the injuries done us, none ought to be so quickly resented, or so severely punished, [Page 23] as an injury done to our country. The interests of our country, not only comprise our own, but the in­terests of a growing and mighty nation; the man, therefore, who seeks to injure his country, is guilty of the blood of millions. What then must we think, or say of those wretches, who play the accursed part of an Absalom, despising government, and speaking evil of dignities? Who cherish and stir up a spirit of revolt from the government of the United States? Who rob their country of its peace, and throw its prosperity into the bosom of a stranger?—While we inspect the character and conduct of such,—while our hearts are filled with a just indignation against them,—let us adorn, with a wreath of laurel, those patriots, heroes and statesmen, whose public virtues, and whose patriotic integrity, have remained pure and unshaken amidst a flood of temptation.

Above all,—the support of public and private vir­tue, is necessary to the maintenance of our happy government. Never did a basely immoral people love government, or sit peaceably under it. In the view of people, whose ideas are contracted, and whose ambition is supremely aimed at self aggrandizement, government is ever hateful. However inestimable may be our civil and religious rights, if we are a people destitute of virtue, benevolence, and piety, they cannot be perserved. A want of virtue is the source of corruption among every class of men:—Avarice will prompt to violence, intrigue, bribery, and seduction:—Luxury will brutalize and corrupt the appetites and passions, and sap the foundation of public confidence:—Vanity, and a love of ostenta­tion being indulged, lead a people to abandon sub­stance, for shew,—and a reality, for an empty sound:—Selfishness, or a want of benevolence, conducts to a life of dishonesty, knavery, and oppression:—Im­piety, implying a prayerless, undevotional frame of spirit towards God, and a cold neglect, or open [Page 24] contempt of his word and ordinances, opens a door for the free indulgence of every evil passion, and for the boundless exercise of those numerous corruptions, which prognosticate the inevitable ruin of such a people.

"In a world like this, (says a modern eloquent, and very judicious writer) when the depravity of man is proclaimed by every law, is engraven on the altars of every religion, and is written with a pen of adamant on the iron page of history,—how desir­able is it, that this great motive to duty, this great sanction of moral obligation, should, instead of being lessened by sophistry, ridicule, and neglect, be pre­served and strengthened to the utmost, to save soci­ety from those numerous evils, of which it is the only remedy,—and to prompt men to those indispen­sable duties, to which it is often the only effectual motive."

Not as a minister only, but as a man, and espe­cially as an American, which name we all venerate, I would insist upon the cultivation of religious virtue, as the only sure defence we have against foreign or domestic evils; being under the fullest conviction, that our future Washingtons' and Adams's, are to be reared up in this way only; and that in this way only, we shall meet with the protection of the great Ruler of the universe. To this, more than to any other cause, (with humility be it spoken) may we impute the undeserved favors, which the Great Eternal hath, in years past, bestowed upon us. Possessed of a hope, though not unallayed with fear, that this will be the case with the people of America, I can address them in the animated language of the good, the pious Hezekiah,—‘Be strong and courageous, be not afraid, or dismayed, for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him,—for there be more with us than with him; with him is an [Page 25] arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us, and to fight our battles.’

It belongs not to man to foretell the future pros­perity and glory of the United States. Such have been the wonderful changes in many nations and kingdoms, within the compass of history, that the most extensive reading, accompanied with the most judicious application, checks the rashness of precip­itate opinion, and teaches us to doubt. But this should by no means lessen our attachment to our present Liberty and Independence, or abate our en­deavours to support them. In doing this, we shall at least, act an innocent part. It is just, that we should use the means, and submit the event to God. In such a conduct we may hope, but no otherwise could we even hope. It must be no small encouragement to maintain inviolably, our civil and religious rights, to anticipate the blessings we are thus ensuring to posterity. Those who are now upon the theatre of action, look forward to the growing hope of mil­lions. Their joys or sorrows must be commensurate with the favourable or the unfavourable prospects which they entertain. It would be enough to be­cloud every face with sorrow, and fill every heart with grief, to have in prospect the loss of our just rights, and the oppression of a foreign enemy. The best, the only way we can fortify ourselves, is to defend, even to the risque of life, those republican and reli­gious principles, which long experience has taught us, are highly salutary and useful.

But, my Audience, the Christian Religion as­sures us that the time approaches, when all govern­ments shall be destroyed, and all their imperfections annihilated in that grand system, which the Almighty shall introduce, to conclude the great drama of all po­litical establishments. This important era will doubt­less [Page 26] be ushered in by human means. Should we un­necessarily yield ourselves a prey to the dominion of a foreign nation, a nation, the first article of whose creed,—"There is no God,"—is the pillar of blas­phemy, must we not fall a prey to His vengeance, who will yet dismantle himself of his enemies? Are we not as a people exposed to an awful extinction? But by a firm and vigorous attachment to govern­ment, by a strict adherence to our laws, and by a patriotic and religious defence of our just and unali­enable rights, as men, and as Americans, we shall be happily subservient under the auspicious smiles of Heaven, in promoting the felicity of our country,—the Liberty and Independence of nations, and the glory of the world. Pursuing the road which God and our own conscience points out, we shall contri­bute not a little towards introducing the glories of the latter Day.

And unto thy rule and protection, O thou sole Proprietor of all the earth, do we commend our­selves, our government, and our country. Under thy protection, we are safe,—under thy smiles, we are happy,—and under the merciful bestowment of a Saviour's purchase, we are, and must be glorious forever.


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