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MR. HOLMES's DISCOURSE, RECOMMENDING THE Counsel OF Washington.

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THE COUNSEL OF WASHINGTON, RECOMMENDED IN A DISCOURSE, DELIVERED AT CAMBRIDGE, FEBRUARY 22, 1800.

BY ABIEL HOLMES, A.M. PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN CAMBRIDGE.

COLUMBIANS! long preserve that peerless page,
Stampt with the precepts of your warrior Sage;
In all your archives be the gift enroll'd,
Suspend it to your walls, encas'd in gold;
Bid schools recite it, let the priestly train
Chant it on festal days, nor deem the task profane;
When round your knees your infant offspring throng
To join the matin prayer, or evening song,
Those rites perform'd, invite them to attend
The farewell counsels of their good old Friend,
And say, he left you, as his last bequest,
These golden rules to make a nation blest.
HONEYWOOD.

Printed by SAMUEL HALL, No. 53, Cornhill, BOSTON. 1800.

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BY a Resolve of Congress, and a Proclamation of the President, dated January 6, 1800, it was "recommended to the people of the United States to assemble on the twenty-second day of February next, in such numbers and manner as may be convenient, publicly to testify their grief for the death of General GEORGE WASHINGTON, by suitable eulo­gies, orations, and discourses, or by public prayers."

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The Counsel of Washington recommended.

MICAH iv. 9.

Now why dost thou cry out aloud?—is thy Coun­sellor perished?

THE answer to these tender inquiries is legible in the countenances of all, who compose this assembly. Yes, my fathers and brethren, my friends and fellow-citizens, I there read the cause of your lamentation. WASHINGTON, your COUNSELLOR, is perished. The Friend, the Father, of our country is no more; and ye have assembled to "testify your grief for his death." This sun marks the anniversary of his nativity.

—Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to him returns*

this day. To other climes, illustrious Shade! hast thou departed, where suns no longer measure the duration of thy existence; where seasons no more revolve; and where, we believe, thy felicity will be as interminable, as thy spirit is immortal.

Already, my respected auditors, have we paid the merited tribute to the memory of this revered and be­loved man. In this very sanctuary, on the reception of [Page 6] the melancholy tidings of his death, we indulged the spontaneous emotions of sorrow; and, impatient of de­lay for legislative recommendation, we hastened at once to mitigate our grief by our tears, and to commemorate the man, whom we had always delighted to honour. On that mournful occasion, we contemplated him in the va­rious characters of the mighty man, and the man of war; of the prudent, and the ancient; of the honourable man, and the counsellor. What now remains? Had not that funereal service precluded a delineation of his character at this time; it would have been precluded by the very interesting and instructive portrait of him yesterday ex­hibited in this house, and by the tributary honours then offered to his memory.*

Instead, then, of recapitulating what ye have repeat­edly heard, and what has already been the universal subject of Discourses and Eulogies throughout the Union; indulge me in reminding you of the COUNSEL of WASHINGTON, and in recommending it to your practical observance. A Discourse, embracing these objects, will, if I mistake not, perfectly coincide with the leading design of this solemnity. It will be honourary to the memory of the man, whose counsels we recall to remembrance; it will testify our grief for his death; it will furnish us with solace in our bereavement; and —what is of vastly higher importance, and will give un­speakably greater pleasure to the benevolent Spirit of WASHINGTON, if a witness of this celebration,—it will tend to the promotion of our union and peace, of our liberty and happiness.

[Page 7] Thy counsellor is, indeed, perished. But is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is his wisdom vanished? * No: Recorded in indelible regis­ters, it is left, as an invaluable legacy to our nation; and by it, he, being dead, yet speaketh. It is, principally, contained in his memorable VALEDICTORY ADDRESS to the people of the United States, on his retirement from the presidency. And what can more tenderly in­terest our attention to this counsel, than a consideration of the motive by which it was dictated? "Solicitude for your welfare," said the retiring Sage, "Solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the perma­nency of your felicity as a people. These will be of­fered to you with the more freedom, as you can only feel in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel." If ye did, indeed, love the paternal WASHINGTON, if ye are sincere in commemorating his death, this day; those words must touch every fibre of your hearts, and insure a silent, may I not say a relig­ious, attention to the important advice which he then offered you, and which I am now to bring into your remembrance.

On this his natal day, then—a day brightened, in­deed, by yonder sun, but deprived of what has long given it its highest lustre—on this eventful day, which, [Page 8] at once, commemorates the birth and the death of our common FATHER, let us, like children assembled around the bed of an expiring parent, listen, with all the eager­ness of filial piety, to his last, last counsels.

Viewing the love of liberty as too congenial to A­mericans, to require his recommendation to fortify or confirm it, our Counsellor first invites our attention to Unity of government. This, saith he, "is a main pil­lar in the edifice of your real Independence, the sup­port of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But, as it is easy to foresee, that from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress, against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively, (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your National Union to your collective and individual happi­ness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity, watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may sug­gest even a suspicion that it can in any event be aban­doned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawn­ing of every attempt to alienate any portion of our coun­try from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts."

The reasons, on which this counsel is founded, are, that being, "by birth or choice, citizens of a common [Page 9] country, that country has a right to concentrate our affections; that the name of AMERICAN, which belongs to us in our national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations; that, with slight shades of difference, we have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles; that we have, in a common cause, fought and triumphed together; and that the in­dependence and liberty we possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common dangers, suffer­ings and successes."* Persuasive arguments! calculat­ed to bind citizen to citizen, and man to man, and to cement the people of the United States into an indis­soluble union.

But, however powerful these considerations, addressed to our sensibility, they are greatly outweighed by those which, with deep discernment, the great Counsellor ad­dresses to our interest. "Here," he demonstrates, that "every portion of our country finds the most com­manding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole." He renders it undeniably evident, that, by an unrestrained intercourse of the North with the South, and of the South with the North; of the East with the West, and of the West with the East; [Page 10] the immediate and particular interest of each part will be promoted, and that "all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts, greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interrup­tion of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value," that "they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between them­selves, which so frequently afflict neighbouring coun­tries, not tied together by the same government; which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to pro­duce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments and intrigues, would stimulate and embitter:" and that "hence likewise they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which are par­ticularly hostile to republican liberty." Under the im­pression of these truths, how justly doth he assert, "that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to en­dear to you the preservation of the other?"

Among the causes which may disturb our union, he mentions it "as matter of serious concern, that any ground should be furnished for characterising parties, by geographical discriminations—Northern and Southern —Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief, that there is a real differ­ence of local interests and views." Misrepresentations of this kind are one of the expedients of party to ac­quire influence; and they give rise to baneful jealousies, against which our paternal monitor cautions us to shield ourselves with peculiar care.

"To the efficacy and permanency of your union, a government for the whole," he observes, "is indispensa­ble. [Page 11] * No alliances, however strict, between the parts, can be an adequate substitute; they will inevitably ex­perience the infractions and interruptions which all al­liances, in all times, have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of govern­ment better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your com­mon concerns. This government, the offspring of your own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within it­self a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence, and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental max­ims of true liberty."—"All obstructions to the ex­ecution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, controul, counteract, or awe the regular de­liberation and action of the constituted authorities," he [...]ustly observes, "are destructive of the fundamental [Page 12] principle of liberty, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extra­ordinary force, to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but art­ful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, di­gested by common counsels and modified by mutual in­terests." We are faithfully forewarned that such com­binations are likely, in the end, "to become potent en­gines, by which cunning and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government."

"Towards the preservation of our government, and the permanency of our present happy state," we are told, "it is requisite not only that we steadily discoun­tenance irregular opposition to its acknowledged au­thority, but also that we resist, with care, the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts;" and allow it the test of time and experience. We are specially counselled to remember, "that for the efficient management of our common interest, in a coun­try so extensive as our's, a government of as much vig­our as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, is indispensable." We are assured, that "Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian: and that it is little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprizes of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits [Page 13] prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property."

Here, again, we are "warned, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of a spirit of party;" and are instructed, that, while it generates "the alter­nate domination of one faction over another, which is itself a frightful despotism, and which leads at length to the more formal and permanent despotism" of an indi­vidual, "it serves always to distract the public counsels and enfeeble the public administration:" that "it agi­tates the community with ill founded jealousies, and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, and foments occasionally riot and insurrec­tion:" that "it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party pas­sions:" and that "thus the policy and will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another." We are taught, that this spirit, however salutary in mo­narchical governments, "in those of a republican form is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy:" and that, "there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opin­ion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quench­ed; it demands uniform vigilance to prevent its burst­ing into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."

Another and a very essential article in the counsel, addressed to us, advises us to pay a sacred regard to moral and religious duties. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity," says the pious and patriotic Counsellor, "Religion and Morality [Page 14] are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who would labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.—A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for prop­erty, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious ob­ligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?—And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be con­ceded of the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure; reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in ex­clusion of religious principle.—It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"*

[Page 15]In close connexion with this counsel to cherish re­ligion and morality, we are advised to "promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the gene­ral diffusion of knowledge:" and are reminded that "in proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

"As a very important source of strength and secu­rity," we are counselled to "cherish public credit." While the execution of the advice given on this subject belongs to your representatives, "it is necessary," as is [Page 16] justly observed, "that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; and none can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment in­separable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate."

We are further advised to "observe good faith and justice towards all nations; to cultivate peace and har­mony with all;" as what is equally enjoined by "good policy," and by "religion and morality." For the ac­complishment of these objects, we are taught that "no­thing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate at­tachment for others, should be excluded; and that in the place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated."

Having enumerated some of the many evils, which originate from such national partialities and antipathies, among which foreign influence is expressly noticed; the Counsellor, as if lifting up a monitory voice, ob­serves: "Against the insidious wiles of foreign influ­ence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican govern­ment." [Page 17] Our detached situation, we are reminded, in­vites and enables us to keep ourselves independent of other nations. "Why," we are interrogated, "why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own, to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Eu­rope, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humour or ca­price?"

We are advised to "take care always to keep our­selves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defen­sive posture;" and are justly taught to believe, "that to be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

We are instructed, in fine, that "there can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real fa­vours from nation to nation;" that "it is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard."

Such were the counsels of the venerable and patriotic Sage, whose death is the subject of this day's lamenta­tion. "In offering to you," said he, "my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impres­sion I could wish—that they will controul the usual cur­rent of the passions, or prevent our nation from run­ning the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations: but if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occa­sional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the im­postures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a [Page 18] full recompence for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated."

Can counsels, springing from patriotism so disinter­ested, from philanthropy so exalted, delivered too with modesty so unaffected, with eloquence so persuasive, re­quire aught else to impress them on your memories, to endear them to your hearts, or to recommend them to your observance? Nothing, but the near and tender relation I bear to you; a conscious obligation to do what in me lies to promote your political and social, your moral and religious, improvement and happiness; solicitude for your united and individual welfare, in con­junction with that of our common country; and the animating hope, that the voice of your Pastor will, on such an occasion as this, be attentively heard and re­garded, could either prompt, or authorize, me to add my humble recommendation to what has the sanction of the name of WASHINGTON. But, impelled by a sense of duty, and inspired by this interesting solemnity, I presume to ask a reiterated attention to those counsels, on the observance of which your safety and happiness are suspended.

Remember, my friends and fellow-citizens, they are the counsels of the prudent, and the ancient; of the hon­ourable man, and THE COUNSELLOR. Remember, they are the counsels of the man, who, during eight long years, jeoparded his life on the high places of the field, in defence of your liberties; of the man, who fought your battles to gain your independence; of the man, who, in yonder encampment, "consumed so many an­xious days, and watchful nights," to insure your peace and tranquillity; of the man, who led your armies to vic­tory [Page 19] and triumph; of the man, who aided in the forma­tion of your admirable Constitution of government; of the man, who, for eight years, presided over your con­federated Republic, and essentially contributed to its prosperity and glory; of the man, who, in the evening of his days, again girded on his sword, to repel your enemies; of the man, who uniformly sacrificed his own interest and tranquillity to the welfare of his coun­try; of the man, whose whole life was a continued series of patriotic exertions and services; of the man, whose first and latest wish was, to see you free, and vir­tuous, and happy. If ye will not regard the advice of such a man; if even the name of WASHINGTON will not endear it to you; if, now your counsellor is perished, ye can suffer his counsel to perish with him; ye will forfeit all claim to the expectation of that happiness, which his counsel was designed to promote, and merit all those accumulated evils, which it was intended to prevent. Ye will deserve to be severed by division, and rent by faction; and to become the prey of some aspir­ing demagogue at home, or of some despotic sovereign­ty abroad.—God forbid, that such infatuation should be the cause of your slavery and ruin! If ye mean any thing by the tribute, which ye profess voluntarily to of­fer, this day; if ye came not hither to insult the ashes of the dead; if ye have the least regard to your own best interests, to those of our common country, and of generations yet unborn; ye will receive, with the ten­derest sensibility, the advice of wisdom, and resolve to honour the memory of your Counsellor, by observing it.

To this observance, then, let me invite all, of what­ever character or description, in this assembly. Each of us, my fellow-citizens, is interested in whatever relates [Page 20] to WASHINGTON. If we cannot emulate his wisdom, we may follow his counsel; if we cannot make preten­sions to his greatness, we may copy after his goodness; if we cannot aspire at his talents as a General, a Presi­dent, or a Statesman, we may imitate his virtues, as a Man, a Citizen, and a Christian.

Let us, therefore, unitedly resolve to pursue that course, which he has, with equal penetration and patri­otism, marked out for the security of our national liber­ty and order, peace and happiness; and keep perpetual­ly in view his own noble and sublime example. Let the unity of government, "which constitutes us one people," be ever a favourite object of our attention and zeal. Impressed with a sense of its importance to the safety and interest, and even to the existence, of the na­tion, let us exert our utmost endeavours to preserve it inviolate. Laying aside local prejudices, let us treat all the citizens of United America as brethren, and aim to become more and more cemented into one great and happy fraternity.

Convinced that, to the preservation of our union, a general government is indispensably necessary, let us cherish a cordial regard to the constitution and govern­ment of the United States. If, my fellow-citizens, ye are, at any time, invited to associate, "under whatever plausible character," for the purpose of "directing, con­trouling, counteracting, or awing the regular delibera­tion and action of the constituted authorities;" spurn, with patriotic indignation, the man, who is capable of insulting your understanding; impeaching your patri­otism; and undermining your liberty. Should ye find serious cause to complain of any evil either in the Con­stitution, or Administration, of your government, seek [Page 21] redress in a constitutional manner; for the Constitution itself provides for its own amendment, and for the pun­ishment of misconduct in those who administer it.— Never forget, that "the basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their con­stitutions of government;"* that ye have the frequent choice of your own rulers; and that, therefore, the staff of power is virtually retained in your own hands. If any, whom ye elect to offices of trust and authority, abuse your confidence, and pervert their delegated pow­er to sinister purposes; ye may remedy the evil, by choosing better men to succeed them. But if, instead of this expedient, ye censure the Constitution, and op­pose the execution of the laws; ye take the surest method to dissolve the union.

As a mean of promoting unity, and of thus preserv­ing your liberty and independence, choose such men only into public offices, as ye know to be attached, from principle, to that Constitution, which your great Counsellor hath warmly recommended to your confi­dence and support.—If this advice is not expressed, it is implied, in the counsels of WASHINGTON; and, which is more, it is impressively inculcated by his own example. At the last election, in Virginia, for the choice of a Federal Representative, the aged Patriot rode the distance of ten miles, to give his vote for a man, whom he knew to be a firm friend to the Constitution of the United States. Let this venerable Image be be­fore your eyes, whenever ye are about to give your suf­frages at an election; and, like a tutelar angel, guard you from contributing to the division and ruin of your country.

[Page 22]Let your united influence be exerted to cherish pub­lic credit; and, to this end, acquiesce in those measures, for raising a revenue, which the public exigencies may require.

Towards all nations let us observe good faith and justice; and cultivate peace and harmony with all man­kind. Avoiding partial predilections for one nation, and antipathies against another, let us blush to bear any other name, or to sustain any other character, than the name and character of AMERICANS.

Institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge let us encourage and promote, as essential to the stability of the government, and to the happiness of the people.*

Above all, my brethren, let us sacredly observe the duties of Morality and Religion—duties admirably il­lustrated and recommended in the example, as well as impressively inculcated in the counsel, of the great and good Man, whose loss we lament. Like WASHINGTON, let us manifest our piety towards GOD, by acknowledg­ing his providence, and obeying his laws. Like him, let us habitually aim to maintain the due regulation of our appetites and passions. Like him, let us devote all our talents, and exert all our energies, for the promo­tion of human happiness. Like him, let us "do jus­tice, love mercy, and demean ourselves with that chari­ty, humility, and pacific temper of the mind, which were [Page 23] the characteristics of the divine AUTHOR of our blessed religion; without an humble imitation of whose exam­ple, in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation." Thus shall we become formed into good men, good citizens, and good Christians. Thus, like WASHINGTON, we shall be worthy to live; like WASH­INGTON, we shall not fear to die; like WASHINGTON, we may close our own eyes with unshaken hand; and, with our expiring breath, exclaim: O Death! where is thy sting? O Grave! where is thy victory?

FINIS.

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