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NATIONAL AFFLICTION, AND NATIONAL CONSOLATION!

A Sermon, ON THE DEATH OF General George Washington, LATE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMIES; AND FORMERLY PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: WHO DIED AT MOUNT VERNON, DECEMBER 14, 1799, IN THE 68th YEAR OF HIS AGE.

DELIVERED ON THE TWELFTH OF JANUARY, ONE THOU­SAND EIGHT HUNDRED, IN THE INDEPENDENT, OR CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH-CAROLINA.

BY ISAAC STOCKTON KEITH, D. D.

ONE OF THE PASTORS OF SAID CHURCH.

PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.

CHARLESTON: PRINTED BY W. P. YOUNG, FRANKLIN'S HEAD, NO. 43, BROAD STREET.

M,DCCC▪

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SERMON ON THE DEATH OF General George Washington, &c.

II. CHRONICLES. Chap. xxxv. Verse 24.‘"And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah."’

IT is a very solemn and affecting scene, which is presented to our view, in this portion of sacred history. Though a long series of ages has passed away since it took place, it cannot, yet, be atten­tively reviewed, without exciting in the thought­ful mind, and feeling heart, many serious reflec­tions and tender emotions. With every other part of scripture, it was doubtless recorded "for our learning," for our instruction and improvement. It shews, particularly, in a striking point of light, how important to a community, are the life and services of a great and good prince; or of a person holding a primary place in the govern­ment of his country—and in that elevated station, distinguished by his superior talents, integrity, and public spirit: and how heavy, and afflictive, is the loss sustained by a nation, when such a ruler and benefactor is "taken from its head," by the awful stroke of death.

[Page 4] To these interesting reflections, we are unavoid­ably led by the consideration of the passage before us—while we here behold the whole Jewish nation, with one consent, and as by one instantaneous im­pulse, assuming the aspect, and exhibiting the to­kens of the deepest affliction and mourning, on ac­count of the death of their late king Josiah; who was one of the worthiest and best, that ever reign­ed over them; and whose life, from his earliest years, had been employed, under the influence of the purest and noblest principles, in promoting the temporal and religious interests of his people.

This good king was yet in the midst of his days, or in the vigor of his age, when it was his lot to receive a fatal wound, in a battle, to which he was probably led, by the terms of his alliance with the king of Israel, who was then tributary to the king of Babylon; and therefore bound to engage on the side of that monarch, in the war which was com­menced against him by the king of Egypt. Of this wound Josiah died, immediately after his re­turn to Jerusalem: and thus the flattering, and ap­parently well founded hopes of his people, for a much longer continuance of his reign, and of the multiplied blessings which they derived from it, were suddenly terminated in the most gloomy and painful disappointment.

An event, so calamitous, might well be expected to diffuse the most afflicting sensations through the body of the nation; for whose welfare he had shewn so early, so zealous, and so constant a con­cern. Accordingly, the sacred historian here in­forms us—that "All Judah and Jerusalem mourn­ed for Josiah:" The inhabitants of every part of the country, concurring with those of the capital [Page 5] city, the place of the royal residence, in every be coming affecting demonstration of sorrow, under this heavy national calamity.

It is added, that Jeremiah the prophet, particu­larly lamented for Josiah. This venerable pro­phet, as it became a servant of God, under that peculiar sacred character which he sustained, was penetrated with the deepest grief for the loss of a prince, whose pious cares, and indefatigable exer­tions, were especially directed to the advancement of the cause of religion and virtue: a cause with which the peace and prosperity, and all the great in­terests of every community, as well as of every indi­vidual, are essentially and inseparably connected. And it is also mentioned, as another memorable circumstance of this national mourning for Josiah, that it was long perpetuated, by the institution of certain solemn services, including, particularly, some elegiac compositions set to plaintive music, in commemoration of an event, so mournful in its nature, and so afflicting in its consequences.

In the history of mankind we shall often find a re­markable similarity of events and circumstances, oc­curing in the most distant countries & periods of time.

With this memorable mourning of the Jewish nation, for the loss of their eminently worthy and amiable Josiah;—how striking is the resemblance, that appears in the universal, unfeigned mourning, now exhibited by the American people, for the loss of their great, and excellent, and beloved WASH­INGTON; whose life was one of the most va­luable blessings of a beneficent Providence to his country, and whose death is justly lamented, as a great national affliction.

When the man, whom God in his good Provi­dence, [Page 6] was pleased to honor, as the most distin­guished instrument in his hand, for securing to the people of America, the liberty civil and religious—the independence—the peace, and the prosperity, in the enjoyment of which, they are at this day, apparently, th [...] most favored, and happy nation in the world. When he, who, obedient to the voice of his country, repeatedly, and with magnanimous self-denial, exchanged his beloved domestic pur­suits and enjoyments, for the most arduous sta­tions of public trust and service: And in those stations victoriously led our armies through the vi­cissitudes of a most difficult and perilous revolu­tionary war; and ably, and successfully presided in the executive department of our national go­vernment, during many of the most eventful years of an unexampled, and awfully portentous crisis in Europe, in which our political and commercial interests were deeply involved. When he, who in the favorite scenes of private life, in which he de­lighted to pass his tranquil days, whenever the safety and glory of his country permitted, display­ed the beauty and loveliness of those finer feelings, and accomplishments, which dignify and adorn the gentleman, the philosopher, the friend, and the domestic character. When he, in a word, who first vindicated our rights, as men and christians, with his sword; and then shielded them from the envious, hostile designs of powerful foreign nations, and the turbulence of restless intestine factions, by the wisdom of his counsels the equity, modera­tion, and firmness of his measures; and who uni­formly shone pre-eminent in great talents, in disin­terested patriotism, and in the lustre of his public and private virtues and usefulness:— [Page 7] When such a man is removed by the supreme, righteous Disposer of all things, from every sta­tion of honorable trust, and important service among his fellow-mortals—and from all the scenes of mortality;—surely, it well becomes the nation, of which he was one of the brightest ornaments, and greatest benefactors, to mourn with the feelings of undissembled, deep, and lasting sorrow!

In such a sorrow all the citizens of the United-States, who really love their country—with many in other nations, who possess the sensibilities of a feel­ing heart, and the genuine spirit of philanthropy, will bear a tender sympathetic part; and sincerely mourn the father of his country, the patron of liberty, the friend of humanity—fallen under that stroke of death, to which the greatest, and most illustrious, equally with the fe [...]blest, and most ob­scure of the human race, must finally bow.—

Of the general mourning, which the death of a man, so eminently and honorably distinguished in life, might well be expected to produce—the most unequivocal tokens are exibited, wherever the mel­ancholy tidings of it have been spread abroad. The customary badges of grief, which indicate a near and valued friend departed; together with the vari­ous, more public and solemn expressions of a nati­on's sorrows, proclaim, in the most affecting, and impressive language, that our illustrious and belo­ved WASHINGTON is numbered with the dead; and that his country sensibly feels, and sin­cerely mourns, the deeply interesting, and afflicting event!—

That the sorrows, which we share in common with our fellow-citizens, throughout the union, and with the friends of liberty and humanity generally, [Page 8] under this bereaving dispensation of Divine Provi­dence, may be brought under the guidance of sober reflection and true wisdom, and directed to some useful ends.—

I shall endeavour, in the process of this discourse, to shew,

  • I. Why the death of great and worthy men, who have been eminently useful in their day, and espe­cially in exalted stations of public trust and service, ought to be lamented; and,

II. What profitable improvement may be made of the event, which is the occasion of the present general mourning of our country.—

I. Why the death of great and worthy men, who have been eminently useful in their day, and espe­cially in exalted stations of public trust and useful­ness, ought to be lamented.—

Now the death of such men may well be lamen­ted.

1. On account of the many and great evils which they are instrumental in averting from a people.—

In the present fallen state of human nature, the passions of men, their pride, their ambition—their avarice, their love of criminal pleasure; in a word, their selfishness, strongly impel them to deeds of injustice, oppression,—and violence.—By these vicious dispositions, individuals are often stimula­ted to bitter and deadly contentions;—and com­munities, and nations, are plunged into all the out­rages and calamities of public, and long protract­ed wars. If left to follow the impulse of these cor­rupt propensities of their fallen nature, without restraint or opposition, a few of the strongest and most unprincipled, bringing others, by force or ar­tifice, into a subserviency to their views, would [Page 9] not hesitate, with the aid of such instruments of their will, to invade the rights, to seize the possessions, to sacrifice the lives of their fellow-men, in any extent which they might think expedient, or find practicable, to the accomplishment of their own base and criminal purposes.

But as the great Ruler of the universe, has de­signed and formed mankind for the social state; and has made their common mutual safety and welfare depend, in a great measure, upon that union and order which constitute the strength and beauty of society;—so he constantly exercises a secret con­trol over all human inclinations, projects, and en­terprizes:—And having the hearts of all men in his hands, he holds all their tumultuous imagina­tions, raging appetites, and furious passions, con­tinually subject to that irresistible authority and power, by which, when he pleases, he commands the stormy winds into a calm; and says to the swel­ling boisterous sea, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." In his government of mankind, how­ever, and for the accomplishment of his wise de­signs, relating to them, he generally uses some vi­sible means and subordinate agency, which have a natural fitness to bring about the worthy ends that he has proposed. In this view, he employs emi­nently the institutions of religion, and the minis­ters of his word, among the people, to whom he has been pleased to grant the distinguishing privi­leges and benefits of Divine Revelation. And in the nations generally, he raises up from time to time, par­ticular persons, endued with some peculiar talents and dispositions; by which they are qualified to rule over their fellow men,—and prompted to em­ploy [Page 10] their power and influence, in providing for the common welfare of the great body of the peo­ple; in restraining and quieting the turbulent mem­bers of the community; and in disconcerting the schemes, and repelling the assaults of their various enemies.

Thus—while the Supreme Governor of Nations, sometimes elevates men of strong natural abilities, connected with the most vile, and profligate moral principles, to great power,—and then uses them as the sword in his hand, for chastising any wicked and rebellious people, whom he determines to punish;—he also, at his pleasure, calls forth, and ad­vances to exalted stations of authority and trust, men of superior talents and worthy character; and by their instrumentality shields or delivers a people, whom he chuses to favour, from those violences or grievances, with which they may be menaced or oppressed.—By their friendly and successful agen­cy, the nation, or community, with the care of whose interests they are entrusted, whether in the capacity of military commanders, or civil magis­trates, is rescued from the galling yoke of bond­age—from the dreadful state of anarchy and confu­sion: or from the final dissolution and utter ruin, to which it might otherwise be reduced, by the fol­ly and wickedness of many of its own members; or by the all grasping ambition, and insatiable cu­pidity of foreign hostile nations and potentates.

Such are the men, whom "the Lord Most High—Who is the great King over all the earth," often "gives to a people, according to his mani­fold mercies, to be" under himself, "their savi­ours;" to be "the ministers of God, for" eminent "good," to them in a state of peace; and his cho­sen [Page 11] instruments, for "saving them out of the hand of their enemies," in a time of war. When, there­fore, men thus specially qualified, and called to fill the most exalted and important stations, in the ser­vice of their country; and thus employed, under the direction of Divine Providence, in averting from it the most formidable and destructive evils, are removed by death; the afflictive event is doubt­less to be regarded, as justly demanding the tears of a bereaved people—as worthy of being lamented with every dignified expression of unfeigned na­tional sorrow.

I proceed to observe, on the other hand, that the death of such valuable defenders, and guar­dians of a people, is to be thus lamented.

2ndly. On account of the eminent benefits, which their instrumentality is employed, by the good Providence of God, in securing to their country.

Many of the reflections, which [...] would be here naturally led to pursue, have been, in some degree, already anticipated, in the observations suggested under the preceding branch of this dis­course.

The necessity of the institution and support of government, among mankind, is universally ac­knowledged; and its utility has been recommended by the experience of all nations, in all ages. So far as any system of government is adapted to unite a people in a state of order and peace—to enforce the principles and rules of justice among them—and to secure them from the mischievous designs of their enemies, it is sanctioned by the approbation of Heaven; and its establishment is to be regarded, as [Page 12] an important public blessing, by the people who enjoy it.

Between different systems of human government, there is indeed as wide a difference, as between the mean [...] [...]ut, raised by the rude savage, merely for his defence from the attacks of beasts of prey, or the injurious effects of inclement elements and seasons; and the noblest edifice, erected by the inge­nious artist, combining requisite strength, with plea­sing proportion, and chaste ornament, and adapt­ed to afford the most secure and comfortable ac­commodation to its inhabitants. But for directing well, and applying efficaciously, the powers of the best constitution of government, it is obvious, that none are properly qualified, but those who possess peculiar abilities for the management of pub­lic affairs: And it is equally certain, that on the moral principles, which direct their conduct, the welfare of the community very much depends. Whether they are charged with the administration of the civil, or military affairs of their country; having its great interests committed to their care, and its resources placed in their hands; they are at once laid under peculiar obligations, and enjoy peculiar advantages, for studying and promoting the public good; and when possessed of those uni­ted qualities of the head and the heart, which dis­tinguish great and worthy rulers and commanders—the public good will be the favorite object of their regard and pursuit—and in the ordinary course of things, will be greatly advanced by their agency. In their superior station, distinguished by their great talents and virtues—by their knowledge of human nature, of its powers and weaknesses—of its passions and its wants—and of the state of their [Page 13] own nation, considered in an abstract point of view, and in its relations to other countries—by their pe­netrating, accurate judgment, and enlarged, com­prehensive view of things—by the wisdom of their counsels, and the rectitude of their measures—by the purity and ardor of their patriotism; and by their active courage, and unyielding resolution, in meeting and surmounting the various and multipli­ed dangers, difficulties and trials, which they may have to encounter in their country's cause and ser­vice—they are eminently qualified, to teach the great body of the people, for whom they act, the nature and value of their civil and sacred rights, and privileges, and to guide and animate their ex­ertions in the pursuit and defence of their true in­terests;—and under the smiles of a favoring Pro­vidence, their instrumentality has a great effect, in securing and improving the most important nation­al advantages.

The desirable ends, which their high qualifica­tions, and patriotic labours are thus adapted to ac­complish, are further promoted by the powerful engaging influence of their great example. For "as the going forth of the sun, is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof;" so the examples of great and good men, moving in exalted spheres of public service, and usefulness, diffuse their en­lightening and enlivening beams, through the wide extent of the land in which they bear rule; and have an happy tendency to stimulate and allure the other members of the community, in subordinate stations, to imitate their conduct, in the cul­tivation of a public spirit, and in the practice of whatsoever things are pious and just—generous [Page 14] and honorable—lovely and praise-worthy:—and, in short, in the pursuit of that course of well doing, which conducts individuals, and communities, to a state of the most desirable prosperity in this world; while it leads those, who walk in it, under the in­fluence of a truly christian faith, to glory, honour, and immortality in the world to come.

Highly favored indeed, are the people to whom the Lord gives such rulers and commanders, as his chosen agents, for communicating and securing to them so many precious blessings of his favor—and so rich a portion of national honor and hap­piness!

When, therefore, a people are bereaved of such valuable benefactors, they sustain an unspeakable loss; and are solemnly called by the Providence of God to mourn—feelingly and deeply to mourn under the heavy and distressing stroke of his holy hand.

The observations which have been suggested, will, it is believed, admit of a just and forcible ap­plication to the present case of our own nation, un­der that very afflicting dispensation of Divine Pro­vidence, which has bereaved us, of a general and statesman, who, in the expressive and emphatical language of our House of Representatives in Con­gress,—"was the first in war—the first in peace, and the first in the affections of his country."

To trace the respectable descent of this great and worthy man—to attend to the first promising buds of a superior mind, and of his future greatness, which began to unsold themselves in his juvenile days and pursuits—to observe the early display of his extraordinary military talents in a station of subordi­nate but honourable and important command, [Page 15] while these United State; were yet dependant pro­vinces of Great Britain—to follow him in his great career of military glory,—when as commander in chief, he directed the operations of our armies, du­ring the whole eight years of the memorable revolu­tionary war; into which we were driven by the unwarrantable claims of the British government—claims too arrogant, degrading, and injurious, not to be resisted and repelled by the free born and high-spirited sons of America—to mark the dignified manner in which he resigned into the hands of the American Congress the high commission which he had received from them, when the great objects of it,—the independence and liberties of his country, were accomplished and secured; and the truly pa­ternal affection, and solicitude, with which he ad­dressed some of the wisest and most salutary moral and political instructions and admonitions, to his fellow soldiers and fellow citizens, when from the most elevated station of military authority and power, he voluntarily and cheerfully descended to the ordinary condition and employments of a pri­vate gentleman—to exhibit the important part, which within a few years after this period, he was called to act in that venerable convention of the principal statesmen of America; by whose collected wisdom, our present excellent system of federal government was framed, and in whose deliberations he presided, as the most honoured and influential member of that enlightened and patriotic body—to review his able and successful administration of this new government, in the office of President of the Uni­ted States, to which he was first raised for the legal term of four years; and in which he was afterwards continued for a like term, by the unanimous suf­frages [Page 16] of the widely dispersed millions of his fellow-citizens—to represent him in the sublime attitude in which he appeared, when delivering the last so­lemn advice, which he directly addressed, under a public character, to the American people▪ advice which was the fruit of superior wisdom, matured by long experience, and of the purest and most disin­terested patriotism, that had stood the test of the severest trials; while at the same time he announ­ced his decided resolution to decline standing a candidate for a re-election to the presidency, on which he had reason to calculate with the greatest confidence;—and conformably to his declared pur­pose, immediately retired, from all the flattering dis­tinctions connected with the supreme magistracy of the Union, to the ardently desired calm retreat of private life, in which he designed, and hoped to pass the residue of his days in undisturbed tranquil­ity and peace—to pourtray the glory of the finish­ing public act of his exalted, and unabated patrio­tism, when he once more yielded to the importu­nate call of his country, and consented to resume the command of the forces, which it was preparing for its defence against the injustice and violence of a rapa­cious, ambitious, and unprincipled foreign pow­er;—to contemplate him here in the closing scene, when thus determined and prepared, to relinquish the repose which was so agreeable and desirable to his advanced age, after the long continued pressing labours of a most active public life, for the toils and dangers of an apparently inevitable and arduous war;—receiving the solemn mandate of Heaven, which summoned his great soul to the world of spirits;—and with that calm and unshaken firm­ness of mind, for which he was ever remarkable, [Page 17] finishing his honorable, earthly career in death—to speak now particularly of the inestimable ser­vices which he rendered to his country, and to the cause of religion, liberty, and humanity:—or to attempt a delineation of the particular features of his great character:—All this would form an undertaking, to which I feel myself wholly incompetent! and which could not be well executed by the best abilities, within the limits prescribed to this discourse. This ac­cordingly comes not within my present design; but is left as the proper work of the biographer and historian:—and in the faithful, well-written memoirs of his life,—and history of his country,—the sublime character,—and the illustrious deeds of our WASHINGTON, will doubtless shine with pre-eminent glory,—through a long series of ages, and diffuse an increasing splendor over many suc­ceeding generations.

In the mean time, while we mourn the Father of our country taken from our head, and gone down to "the grave, the house prepared for all living;"—let us now be led to consider,—

II. What profitable improvement may be made of this event, which is the occasion of the present deep and universal sorrow and mourning of our country—and;

1. It becomes us to cherish the remembrance of the excellent character and eminent services of our country's most illustrious citizen and distinguished benefactor, whose death we now lament, with a grateful sense of our obligations to the beneficent Providence of God, who qualified and employed him, as a leading instrument, in securing to us [Page 18] so many, and such inestimably valuable national blessings.

The memory of the man, whom God was plea­sed most remarkably to honor, as the instrument in his hand, for the communication of so much good to our highly favoured nation, should be peculiarly dear to all our citizens;—and it should be transmit­ted, with every appropriate, impressive mark of distinguishing esteem and regard, to posterity—as a splendid example for the imitation of future pa­triots, generals, and statesmen—and of our citi­zens generally, in every department of public and private life.—In the records of nations, excepting only those of God's antient, chosen and peculiar people, we would probably search in vain for the example of an union of great talents and virtues, of worthy conduct, and important usefulness; superior, if we could even find one equal, to that which has been exhibited by our admired and beloved WASH­INGTON, in those high military and civil employ­ments, in which he was called to defend and serve his country.

But remembering that "every good gift," eve­ry valuable possession, privilege, or benefit, whe­ther of a private or public nature, or through whatever channel, or medium, conveyed to us, "comes down from the Great Father of lights and mercies;"—let us study to be thankful to HIM, who graciously provided such a general and states­man, to conduct our military operations, and ad­minister our civil and political affairs, during a long period, the most critical and interesting to our nation—who crowned his wise councils, his virtu­ous measures, his heroic efforts, with such happy success—and who prolonged his life, with his capa­city, [Page 19] and his zeal unimpaired, for the service of his country—till it was safely conducted through a long series of the most perplexing difficulties, and for­midable dangers, and at length securely establish­ed, as we trust, in the enjoyment of a most excel­lent constitution of government, and a most desi­rable state of peace and prosperity. Most kind and indulgent, indeed, has been the Providence of the God of our mercies, in first bestowing upon us, and then forbearing to remove from us, the man, who was one of the most impregnable bul­warks of our country in war, and one of its strong­est pillars in peace—till it was settled and confirmed in its present eligible situation; in which it does not probably so immediately depend, as at some for­mer periods, on the services or influence of any individual: and seems not likely to be so easily shaken, as it might have sometimes heretofore been, by the restless spirit of internal faction; or by the dark intrigues, or open violence of foreign, jealous, and unfriendly nations!

Let us then, at once, honor the memory of our departed illustrious General and President; and praise the divine and most bountiful Author of all the various blessings of a civil and a sacred nature, which through his distinguished agency, we have experienced, and now enjoy, as an independent, a free, a great, and an happy nation!

2. Let us learn "to cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils,"—and to repose an humble, stedfast trust and hope, in the ever-living, all-suffi­cient, and unchangeable God, for that guidance, protection, and various aid, which as a people, we continually need, in order to our safety and wel­fare.

[Page 20] "Lord, what is man, and wherein is he to be accounted of?"—"All flesh is grass, and the glo­ry of man, as the flower of the grass; the grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withereth!"—What is man in honor? He is a shadow that passeth ra­pidly away. What is man in his best estate? He is, in respect of all the worldly advantages which he may possess, and of all the benefits which his fellow-mortals may expect from him, altogether vanity!

"Let us not then put our trust in princes,"—in those who among their fellow men are clothed with supreme authority and power, or bear the character of the great and the good—"nor in the son of man," of whatever qualifications, or in whatever station, "for in him there is no" effectualor certain "help." "Their breath goeth forth—they return to their earth; in that very day all their thoughts," either for their own aggrandizement, or security, or for promo­ting the public good, "perish" in the gloom of "the grave, where they have no more a portion in any thing that is done under the sun."—But let us remember, "that happy is the man, and happy the people—and that happy alone are they, who have the God of Jacob for their help, and whose hope is in the Lord, their God, who made Heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is;—who keepeth truth forever—who executeth judgment for the oppress­ed—who loveth the righteous; but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down—who putteth down one and setteth up another—who straighteneth the nations and enlargeth them at his pleasure; and who, in the exercise of his sovereign, Almighty, most [Page 21] wise, righteous, and beneficent dominion, reigneth for ever, even unto all generations."

Our lately universally esteemed, and now univer­sally lamented WASHINGTON, in the possession of all his excellencies and honors, was but a mortal man. Thanks be to God for the great qualifica­tions by which he was distinguished—for his im­portant public services—and for the long continu­ance of his eminently valuable and useful life!—And now, blessed be God, that the hopes of our country are not buried in the same tomb with his venerable dust; but that to Himself, who is "the possessor of all that is in the heaven and in the earth—whose is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, who reigns over all, and who is the same, yesterday, to day, and for ever"—we may still look up as "our light and our salvation," "for leaders and comman­ders of the people," for the preservation of our independence and liberties, government and laws, order and peace, and the perpetuity and advance­ment of our national, as well as personal safety, prosperity, and happiness!

3. While we mourn for the loss which our na­tion has sustained, by the death of such an able de­fender, and distinguished benefactor—let us be ex­cited to pray for our country, and especially for those, who occupy the principal places of autho­rity, trust, and power, in its government.

"To offer up supplications, prayers, and inter­cessions for all men," and especially for those, whose interest and welfare, are most nearly con­nected with our own, and upon whose counsels and measures, our safety and happiness, under God, most immediately depend—is at all times an impor­tant [Page 22] christian duty. For our fellow-men, in every nation of the earth, in every branch of the great family of mankind, we should constantly pray; that they may enjoy the advantages of wise and good governments and laws—and the blessings of the gospel of the great Redeemer of fallen men, in its unclouded light, uncorrupted purity, and sa­ving power;—"that the people who delight in war may be scattered—that the wickedness of the wick­ed may come to an end—that the just may be esta­blished,"—and that the cause of truth and righteous­ness, and of genuine liberty, civil and religious, involving all the great interests of communities and individuals, may prevail and triumph, universally, through the world.

For our country, especially, we should conti­nually pray—that the great Governor of nations, our guardian God, and the God of salvation, may be pleased to forgive our multiplied follies and of­fences, by which we are daily forfeiting his mer­cies, and provoking his judgments;—"to turn away every token of his anger from us, and remem­ber us with the favor which he bears to his chosen and peculiar people"—to secure to us the full and uninterrupted possession of our personal and national rights and privileges; in the enjoyment of order, harmony, and tranquillity at home, and of peace and honor abroad—to prosper all ranks and classes of the inhabitants of our land, in their several sta­tions, and lawful, worldly pursuits—and "to visit us with" the infinitely more precious blessings of "his spiritual and everlasting salvation."

"For all in authority over us," and entrusted with the care of our national interests, in public stations, we ought more particularly to pray, that they may [Page 23] be "wise and able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness," and zealous, active, resolute, and stedfast in their concern for, and pur­suit of the public good. Considering how mul­tiplied, arduous, and perplexing, are the cares of government—how peculiarly strong and pressing are the temptations, with which men, in exalted stations of trust and power, are continually sur­rounded; and how many, and great, are the evils or benefits, which may result to the community from their ill or good conduct, in the important places which they occupy—in the elevated spheres wherein they move—we should, from a tender sympathy for them, and a prudent regard to our own interests, pray continually for our rulers—"that the Lord may give them a wise and under­standing heart, to discern between good and evil, and to go out and in before a great people," with discretion and fidelity, with unsullied honor and good success.

And thus are we, by a special, solemn voice of Divine Providence, called to pray for our country, at the present juncture, while mourning the recent death,—of our late illustrious General and Presi­dent; and to pray, more particularly, for his wor­thy and venerable successor in the presidency of the Union—that he may be divinely assisted, in sustaining the increased weight of anxious care, which is devolved upon him, by the loss of so early, able, and experienced an associate, in the great cause of America—and that he may steadily and firmly, proceed to tread in the same steps of wisdom, virtue, and honor, by which the great and excellent WASHINGTON conducted his country; [Page 24] to the present dignified and enviable rank, which it holds among the nations of the earth.—

Finally;—

4. Let the consideration of this very affecting instance of mortality, which has filled the heart of our nation with sorrow and mourning, be improved to awaken and engage us all, to a faithful and di­ligent discharge of the duties of our respective stations; and to a seasonable preparation, and con­stant watchfulness for the order of God, which shall dismiss us from all our employments here, to a state of righteous and everlasting retribution in a fu­ture world.

To act, as if we thought that we were bound by no obligations, to extend our views or regards be­yond ourselves; but had a right to employ our time and powers, merely to serve our own selfish purposes, would be very disgraceful to our cha­racter as men and citizens. Much more reproach­ful then, must such conduct appear to be, in those who bear the name of Christians—when it is view­ed in the light of the gospel—when it is considered as in direct contradiction to those benevolent and refined principles of the religion of the blessed Je­sus, which require us "to love our neighbour as ourselves"—"to rejoice with them that rejoice—to weep with them that weep"—"to bear one another's burthens"—"and as we have ability and opportuni­ty, to do good to all around us."

Let us, therefore, reflect and consider what the Lord our God and Saviour requires of us, in our several stations—and endeavour to occupy, with the talents which he has committed to us, in that man­ner, by which his great name may be most glori­fied [Page 25] and the best interests of our fellow men to­gether with our own, most effectually advanced.

FATHERS—Let not the residue of your strength be wholly spent in that case and inactivity, which, to declining years, usually appear most inviting.—If you are yet living to yourselves, and for this world▪—surely it is high time that you begin to live to the Lord, and for eternity.

If, in the course of a life of christian faith, pi­ety and virtue,—you are serving and honoring the adorable Author of your being and redemption, and pursuing the great ends of your rational exist­ence,—"Be not weary in well doing, but hold on your way, and hold out to the end,—and still go from strength to strength, till you enter into that everlasting rest, which remaineth for the people of God." And remember, that it particularly be­comes you, to teach the rising generation their du­ties to God, to their neighbour, and themselves—to admonish them of the vicissitudes, the temp­tations, the dangers, to which they may be expo­sed in the untried journey of life—and to recom­mend the counsels of matured wisdom, and long experience, by the engaging influence of the good example, which you will exhibit, while you conti­nue to walk with steady steps, and cheerful hopes, in "the path of the just; which is as the shining light" of the morning, "shining more and more unto the perfect day."

YOUNG MEN—Let not the flower of your age—the vigour of your faculties, be dishonored and wasted in the indulgence of unmanly sloth—of un­profitable, dissipating amusements—or of for did, criminal, and destructive pleasures: But study to furnish your minds with useful knowledge, to ac­quire [Page 26] and strengthen the dispositions and habits of purity and temperance,—of regularity and dili­gence—of generosity and economy. "Remember your Creator and Redeemer in the days of your youth:" Choose and pursue "the ways of wisdom, which are the only ways of pleasantness, and peace: Fulfil the obligations of every relation, which you sustain, with respectful attention and affection—with strict fidelity and becoming cheerfulness; and let your breasts glow with a laudable, ardent am­bition, to act a worthy part—and become the orna­ments and blessings of society, in your day.

Let it be the concern of every one of us, in short, that we may feel the power, and manifest the influence of those sacred, heavenly principles of the gospel, which will bear down every selfish, contracted disposition of our degenerate nature, and elevate and enlarge our hearts, in the most be­nevolent desires—and prompt us to correspondent, worthy efforts, to be as useful as possible, in our respective spheres—to contribute something to the welfare of the civil community, with which we are connected, and to the extension of the bounds, and the advancement of the glory of the Redeemer's kingdom of grace in the world.

And by the great example of the distinguished friend and benefactor of his country, whose loss we now deplore—let us all be taught and animated to cherish that public spirit, which shone so conspi­cuously in him—and which will determine us to maintain for ourselves, and to transmit to the ge­nerations, that shall come after us, the national in­dependence, and the precious liberties involved in it, for which he so nobly fought—and which he guarded with so vigilant an eye, and faithful a hand, [Page 27] —and to exert our influence, as far as it may ex­tend, for preserving and supporting religion and morality, order and peace, in our land,—for pro­moting the prosperity of church and state, and for aiding our fellow-citizens, and fellow christians, and our brethren of mankind, generally, whom we may be able to serve, in respect to their com­mon and sacred, their temporal and eternal con­cerns.

The father of his country no longer lives, to unite, animate, and guide its citizens, and its ar­mies in its defence—to watch for its welfare—to plan and labour for its prosperity and its glory.—How far its safety, or its interests may be affected by his lamented death, we yet know not. But when we reflect upon the existing circumstances of our nation, deprived, as it now is, of the pre­sence, the talents, the counsels, the cares, the ex­ample, the influence of its most revered and hon­ored citizen, its most strenuous defender, and most vigilant and faithful guardian;—we must sure­ly be aware, that it now demands, from all, whose interests are embarked in its cause, a more solicit­ous attention to its necessities—and a redoubled zeal in every patriotic effort, by which it may be defended and benefited.—And let those, who may be ready to apprehend, that they can do little or nothing for the public good, be reminded, that they can, at least, pray for it;—and that "the Lord is a God hearing prayer;" and "having already done great things for us," may be ready to do still greater things for us,—"but will yet be enquired of by us, that he may do them for us."

Recollecting, also, that our opportunities in this world for serving God, and our generation, accord­ing [Page 28] to the will of God, and for securing the salva­tion and everlasting happiness of our own souls, are very short and precarious—let us be admonished to undertake and "to do with our might, whatever our hand findeth to do."

Every instance of mortality, which we witness, or of which we hear, is adapted, impressively, to enforce the word of God, by which we are warn­ed, "that the time is short." But from the tomb of the great WASHINGTON, for whom his country now mourns, through all its borders—the voice of death speaks to us with more than ordinary solem­nity and emphasis—"Be ye also ready—for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh." "In such an hour as we think not," or may be least aware of his approach, the Son of Man, "who hath the keys of death, and of the invisible world," may come, by his dread summons, to call us from time to eternity—from a temporary state of service and trial, to an everlasting state of righte­ous and unchangeable retribution.

How soon did the humane and amiable hero, yield to the violence of unrelenting disease!—How quickly did the mighty and renowned conqueror fall, with all his mortal honors blooming upon him—"in that war in which there is no discharge!"

And must not we as certainly die? And may we not, in like manner, die with as little previous warning of our impending dissolution—or by a stroke from the last enemy, still more sudden and unexpected? O let us hasten then, in our prepara­tion for the closing scene of life—for that all im­portant change of worlds to which we are approach­ing, as fast as the rapid flight of time can bear us forward!

[Page 29] Let us look well to ourselves, and see that our souls are committed in the exercise of that unfeign­ed faith, "which is the gift of God, and the work of his holy spirit," into the hands of that Divine, Al­mighty, and most gracious Redeemer, "whose is the only name under Heaven, given among men, by which any can be saved;" and on whose atone­ment, righteousness, and intercession, the most il­lustrious saviours of their country, equally with the meanest and most abject of the children of men, must entirely depend, for the forgiveness of their sins—for reconciliation and peace with God; and for the attainment of that everlasting life, which God has promised to believers, and which is to be found only in his Son. Let us, also, be active and diligent, "stedfast and immovable, and more and more abounding, in all the work and service of the Lord," to which we are called, as the followers of the great Captain of our salvation; and let it be our most serious concern, and care, that we may be found ever watching for the coming of our Lord—and waiting with a stedfast faith, with a lively hope, and with an earnest desire, for his so­vereign order to lay down our flesh in its native earth; and to enter, disincumbered of all the bur­thens of mortality; and completely delivered and purified, from the power and pollution of sin, un­der which we now groan, into the full and ever­lasting "joy of our Lord."

Then will the course of our pilgrimage, through this vale of tears, close in peace:—and "having fought the good fight, and finished the work," which our Lord has appointed to be accomplished by us, on earth—and having thus approved our­selves "faithful" in his cause and service, "unto [Page 30] death, we shall receive the crown of immortal life, which he hath promised, and which he will give to all who believe in, and obey him, and who love his appearing." And then, in his heavenly kingdom—"washed from our sins in his blood, who loved us, and gave himself for us; and ad­vanced to the dignity of kings and priests unto God and his father,"—we shall mourn no more for the awful desolations of death, or under any of the lamentable effects of sin; but shall find "all tears wiped away from our eyes," by the kind hand of our gracious God and Redeemer; and "be­holding his face in righteousness, and satisfied with his likeness, we shall triumph in his praise, and in that fulness of joy which is in his presence," through all the ages of a blessed eternity!

"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invi­sible, the only wise God and our Saviour, be honor and glory, for ever and ever." AMEN!

FINIS.

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