[Page]
[Page]

DR. TRUMBULL's DISCOURSE ON THE DEATH OF GENERAL WASHINGTON.

[Page]
Gen. GEORGE WASHINGTON. Commander in chief of the Armies of the United States. Born Feb. 11th 1782 O. S. Died December 14th 1799
[Page]

The MAJESTY and MORTALITY of created GODS Illustrated and Improved.

A FUNERAL DISCOURSE, DELIVERED AT NORTH-HAVEN, DECEMBER 29, 1799. ON THE DEATH OF GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON; WHO DIED DECEMBER 14, 1799.

BY BENJAMIN TRUMBULL, D. D. PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN NORTH HAVEN.

[figure]

NEW HAVEN: PRINTED BY READ & MORSE. 1800.

[Page]

DEDICATION.

TO the CITIZENS OF CONNECTICUT, the CINCINNATI, the MASONIC BRETH­REN, and to ALL MEN to whom the name of WASHINGTON is dear, this mite, humbly at­tempted, as a tribute of respect to one of the greatest and most useful men, whom any age hath produced, is most respectfully dedicated, by their condoling friend and fellow citizen,

THE AUTHOR.
[Page]

The MAJESTY and MORTALITY of created GODS.

THAT portion of Scripture which shall lead our medita­tions, while we most sensibly participate in the general sorrow of our afflicted country, and pay our mournful tribute of respect to the departed Hero and Father of the American States, is written in the

LXXXII PSALM, 6 and 7th verses.

I have said, Ye are Gods: and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

HOWEVER bright the sun may rise, however useful and cheering he may be in his meridian course, yet, at the appointed hour, he will most certainly set. His cheer­ing light and genial influence will be withdrawn. In like manner men of the greatest eminence, the most distinguished by genius, by mental improvement, by exalted stations and public usefulness, to whatever degree they have illuminated, gladdened and benefited the several ages and nations in which they have flourished, after a short and precarious day, have set in the midnight gloom of death. Their usefulness has soon terminated, and they lie in the dark regions of the dead. Short is the whole term from the morning of life to the sad evening of death. The author of our nature has made our days as an hand breadth and our age as nothing before him. The term of public life and usefulness is still much shorter. How soon is the arm, which, with manly vigor swayed the sceptre, wielded the sword of justice and of war, enervated with years? How soon does the strongest memory fail and the greatest mental powers decline with age? Nay, how often are men of the most distinguished characters arrested by the hand of death, before the approach of old age? In the glory of life, in the midst of usefulness they vanish, like the vapor, and appear no more. They die suddenly, die in every period of life and usefulness, and by all the diseases, casualities and misfortunes by which other men die. They exhibit to the world the most melancholy and striking evi­dence, That every man at his best state is altogether vanity.

OF this it is the design of the text to admonish all men, and especially all the great and honorable among them: That notwithstanding the importance and elevation of their character they are mortal. The text indeed concedes, that some men are highly exalted above others. Magistrates are called by the awful name of Gods, and all of them children [Page 6] of the MOST HIGH, on the account of their office; the au­thority with which they are invested, the work to which they are appointed, and the majesty which GOD hath [...] put upon them. But to check human vanity, make them better men, and more extensively useful, he who maketh them Gods, affirms also, That they shall die like men. His words not only assert their mortality, but imply the great importance and utility of their knowledge of it, and of their frequently and seriously contemplating upon it, and on their responsibility to a tribunal higher than their own.

IT will therefore be natural in further discoursing on the subject

  • I. TO show the majesty of civil rulers: or that GOD high­ly exalts some men in genius, dignity and usefulness above others.
  • II. THAT however highly they may be exalted in office, or in any other respects above other men, they are equally with them subject to mortality and all its consequences.

I. I AM to show the majesty of civil rulers: or that GOD highly exalts some men in genius, dignity and usefulness above others.

THE SUPREME MAJESTY, in the text and context, express­ly terms the kings, magistrates and rulers of Israel, Gods. This, of all names, is the most high, venerable and glorious. When given by GOD himself, it must be with great proprie­ty; importing the high exaltation, majesty and importance of magistrates and civil government: That they are instituted by him, and bear a resemblance of his glorious majesty.

CIVIL government, however different, in different times and countries, is of GOD. He expressly appointed it among his own people. It was his express command, Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates . The divine gov­ernment is universal. HE hath prepared his throne in the hea­vens; and his kingdom ruleth over all §. All other rulers are of GOD, as well as those of his own peculiar people. Hence that remarkable passage, By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth . The apostle Paul expressly affirms, The powers that be are ordained of GOD. And there is no power but of GOD *.

[Page 7]CIVIL government is founded in reason. It originates in the divine philanthropy; and has its foundation in the pa­ternal care, justice and goodness of the common parent of all his creatures. It is designed to be a resemblance of him in the righteousness and purity of his laws and administra­tion. When it is good, it bears a glorious resemblance of him, and is one of the greatest blessings enjoyed by man. As mankind are, this is the grand security of life, limb, lib­erty, property, domestic, public, civil and religious peace and order; and indeed of all the blessings of social life. This only defends us against violence, injustice, robbery, war, and death. Without it there could be no order, strength, beauty, unity, or peace in society. Nay, the un­restrained lusts and passions of men, like a mighty tornado or inundation would sweep from the earth every thing which is pleasant and valuable to man.

AS GOD hath instituted civil government, so men of sin­gular genius and mental powers elevated to seats of earth­ly dominion are his ministers, and, in their legislative and executive capacity, bear his image as the SUPREME RULER and JUDGE of the universe. They stand in his place, act un­der his authority, legislate and judge for him. They are his officers to suppress violence, fraud, dissipation and every wickedness which injures the public weal, and to maintain truth, order, righteousness and peace in the earth. Hence it is written, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in judgment . The civil ruler must imitate GOD in the integrity of his heart, in the righte­ousness and purity of his law, and in the impartiality of his government. The divine throne is established in righteous­ness; justice and judgment are the habitation of it. The divine law is perfect and pure. How great and awful is the ma­jesty of civil magis [...]tes in this view? They are law-givers to guard the life, property and liberties of the people; to defend, encourage and reward the righteous, to punish the wicked, to cut off the violent man, and evil doers from the earth. They are exalted to seats and thrones of judgment, to defend the poor, the fatherless and the widow: to do jus­tice and judgment, and to establish truth, and righteousness, and peace in the earth. With the Lord, whose resemblance they bear, there is no iniquity, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts §. It is therefore commanded with respect to them, Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but you shall hear the [Page 8] small as well as the great . Thou shalt not wrest judgment, thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift. That which is alto­gether just shalt thou follow . They are vested with power to kill, and to keep alive, as law and justice demand. They are ministers of GOD not only for good, but they are reven­gers, to execute wrath upon them who do evil. They bear not the sword in vain. *

CIVIL magistrates should imitate the SUPREME RULER in his paternal care and goodness over his creatures, in his com­passion, and in the goodness of his government. He rules in mercy as well as righteousness. He does good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. His whole government is good. All the happiness of heaven and earth, in time and eternity flows from it. The pure river of the water of life clear as chrystal proceeds out of the THRONE of GOD and the LAMB. In like manner their constitutions of government, the whole body of their laws, and all their ad­ministrations should be directed to the public good. They should exceedingly love the people, the public order and hap­piness; —be of a public, patriotic and noble spirit, possessing high paternal affections towards all the people. They should consider their burdens and study to make them as light as possible;—to understand their interests, and the means of promoting them, and employ all their abilities, honors and influence for the common weal. This will make their gov­ernment gladdening as the light, refreshing as the gentle dews and showers which fertilize the earth, and through the divine benignity, fill men's hearts with food and glad [...] Hence it is written, When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice. The just man who ruleth over men, saith GOD, Shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain ! The rising sun, in a clear morning, spreads an universal joy, and its clear shining after rain, has the most extensive and beneficial effects. So the influence of a good ruler extends its happy effects to every community, family and individual in a whole nation. It gives order, safety, peace and joy to all. In this view how amiable, dignified and glorious is the good ruler. In what an high and important sense does he resemble the MOST HIGH? On these accounts it has generally been supposed that magistrates, in the scriptures, are called GODS.

[Page 9]THERE is yet another important, and perhaps a principal reason, why the Kings of Judah and Israel were called Gods; Because they were illustrious types of the MESSIAH, the SON of GOD. In this respect they might be called Gods: and every one of them children of the MOST HIGH. But in this view no rulers since the coming of CHRIST can be called by this high and reverend name. In the other view, however, they are a happy resemblance of the DIVINE MAJESTY, and their character is most venerable and useful. The more wise, righteous, patriotic and extensively useful they are, the more happily they answer to the high and awful name by which they are characterized. Such officers are the LORD'S, the PILLARS of the earth, and he hath set the world upon them.

HE raises them up with all their superior abilities natural or acquired; and by his providence exalts them to the sever­al stations in which he designs them to act, for the defence, peace and prosperity of his kingdom. As known unto him are all his works from the foundation of the world, so he qualifies men, in the different periods of time, for the great purposes which he has in view. He brings them on to the great theatre of action; and makes them, through his bless­ing, adequate to the emergencies of the church, and the ad­mirable events which he designs to accomplish.

THE natural and acquired abilities of men are exceedingly different. The disparity between some men and others is, probably. nearly as great as between some angels and men. David is represented, As wise according to the wisdom of an an­gel to know all things that were in the earth . GOD gives to some men, natural genius, largeness of heart, an acumen and pe­netration far beyond the common share of their fellows. He forms them for great actions and purposes. Thus he gave to Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand which is on the sea shore *. He also, so governs events, in his providence, that the natural powers of some persons shall be greatly improved by litera­ture and all advantages to form them for public usefulness. To some men he gives great talents for government. Like the men of Issachar they have an understanding of the times, so that they discern both time and judgment; and know what Israel ought to do. On others he bestows uncommon [Page 10] military abilities; magnanimity, and penetration of mind, strength and agility of body, so that they are admirably calculated to defend his church against her enemies. In some instances these are both united in the same person. Thus, when the exigencies of the church required it, GOD raised up David, and gave him not only great wisdom, policy, and military skill, but uncommon strength and agility, so that the bow of steel was broken by his arms, and he ran through the troops and leaped over the walls and ramparts of his enemies. For his assistance he gave him captains and gen­erals, who were men of war, fit for the battle, who could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were as the faces of lions, and who were swift as the roes upon the mountains *.

WHEN GOD designed to deliver Israel from their bondage in Egypt, and to form them into a distinct kingdom, he gave them Moses for a lawgiver and deliverer. When they needed a general to lead them into Canaan, he raised up a Joshua. When the holy seed were doomed to an universal and total destruction, by the device of a wicked Haman, he prepared an Esther, with all the charms of nature and good sense, and with the polish of a fine education, to ravish the heart of the king of Persia, and by her influence to obtain a reversal of the fatal decree. When it was his purpose to destroy Babylon, and to deliver his people from the North country, he called Cyrus, and girded him with his might; That he might let go his captives and build his city .

IN like manner, when he saw, that men were about to rise up against the people of America, and swallow them up quickly, unless his merciful interposition should prevent, he qualified and exalted men to places of trust, in the cabinet and in the field, for their defence. At that period arose a Franklin, that uncommon genius, who first discovered the philosophy of the electric fluid, and taught how to conduct the tremendous bolts of heaven harmless from the dwellings of men. Then appeared in mature age, and the full vigor of life, a Randolph, a Hancock, an Adams, a Jay, and other distinguished characters, to guide our counsels in the cabinet and negociate our affairs in foreign kingdoms; and that il­lustrious man, GEORGE WASHINGTON, to command our armies in the field, and be the Saviour of America. For his assis­tance there appeared a Green, a Montgomery, a Wooster, a Sullivan, a Lincoln, a Wayne, a Mercer, and other heroic [Page 11] patriots to defend our liberties, and lead us to peace and glory. These, with the other great and patriotic characters who labored with them in the same glorious cause, were his instruments to effect the great work which he designed. He gave them their powers and raised them to the elevated sta­tions in which they acted. For promotion cometh neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the South But God is the judge; He putteth down one, and setteth up another. Hence the powers that be are of GOD. He creates and preserves them for his own purposes, and removes them at his pleasure. Though he stands in no need of creatures, means, or instru­ments; can work with or without them, as seemeth good in his sight, yet it pleaseth him, ordinarily, to govern the world, and accomplish great events by them.

This brings me to observe

II. THAT however highly they may be exalted in office, or in any other respects above other men, they are equally with them subject to mortality and all its consequences.

THIS is a truth however melancholy and deeply affecting it may be, which lies so open to universal observation, that it needs no laboured illustration. The business of a preacher is rather to impress, than demonstrate a truth so obvious. The experience of all ages, of every year and month from the apostacy to the present time bears witness to it. Both the sacred and historic page attest it. One generation passeth away and another generation cometh. The fathers where are they? And the prophets do they live for ever? Where are the fathers of New England, who converted the wilderness into gardens, orchards and pleasant fields? Where are the Winthrops, Hayus's, Heatons, Cottons, Hookers, Davenports, and other renowned politicians and divines, who formed her free civil and religious constitutions, and first illuminated Ameri­ca with the light of science and liberty, and the far more glorious light of the gospel? Long since have those morn­ing stars gone down in the regions of the shadow of death. The greatest politicians, theologians, and generals, who have made the nearest approaches to the glorious angels and to GOD himself; who have been most useful and beloved in their day are but spirits in mortal flesh. Like their fellow mortals, they have sinned & fallen under the general sentence of death; DUST THOU ART, AND UNTO DUST SHALT THOU RETURN. They are equally exposed with other men to all the [Page 12] diseases, violences and disasterous events which termin­ate the life of man. Neither their wisdom, power, nor strength, can evade, over awe, or withstand the messenger of death. Neither can their riches bribe him, and prevent the fatal blow. Where now are all the ancient sons of fame, who built a babel in the plains of Shinar and erected the pyramids and other wonders of the world?—Where are the mighty and the honorable who illuminated the world with the light of science, or made the earth to tremble with their arms and military feats? Where are the Alexanders, the Caesars, and Scipios? Where are kings and princes, who had gold, who filled their houses with silver? And counsel­lors of the earth who built desolate places for themselves{inverted †}? Is not their rest together in the grave? The small and the great are there .

NO righteousness and integrity in judgment, no public usefulness, no love to our country, nor the love nor prayers of millions, can, for a moment, stay the hand of this king of terrors. There is no man that hath power over the spirit to re­tain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war .

THE chief men of a nation, the created Gods of the earth, die like men, as to the manner of their death. They die suddenly; die in the glory of life. They lie down in ease and apparent safety, slumber a few hours, and awake in sore disease and the agonies of death. Nay, they lie down in health, close their eyes in soft repose, and wake no more. They die in all the ways, in all the agonies, swoons, faint­ings, fears and terrors of other men.

THEY fall like one of the princes, by the arrow from the bow drawn at a venture, by the sword upon the high places, by the dagger of the assassin, by the poisonous draught, and the numerous delicacies, dainties, and indulgencies of high life. They die on beds of down, tapestry and fine linen; amidst learned physicians, costly medicines, and royal atten­dants. Yes, in the midst of all these, they must die; nor can they obtain a moment's reprieve. In magnificent domes and stately palaces, in the presence of captains and mighty men, in all the hurry and alarm of an affrighted court, they bid the world and time adieu.

[Page 13]THEY die like men with respect to all the consequences of death. Their bodies like those of their fellow mortals drop into a state of insensibility and inaction. They lie down in the grave, the land of darkness and silence, the worms cover them, and they return to their original dust. They ex­change their robes of state, their palaces, their lofty domes and soft lodgings for the winding shroud and the tomb.

THEIR immortal part passes instantaneously into the un­seen, eternal world of spirits, and becomes subject to the ex­ercises, government and awards of that endless and wonder­ful state. Their departed spirits will instantly be acquaint­ed with the glories of heaven, united with blessed angels, prophets, apostles and all the holy ones redeemed from a­mong men, or be associated with infernal ghosts in the re­gions of despair and woe. The uncreated splendors of the DIVINE MAJESTY, the awful glories of his dread tribunal will present themselves to their astonished souls. Such un­utterable scenes will rise into view, as will make all the ma­jesty and great affairs of men dwindle into littleness and van­ity, and annihilate them and all created glory before the DIVINE MAJESTY, the INFINITE ALL in ALL.

LIKE other men they are accountable for all the principles, views, and ends with which they have acted; for all they have done not only in their high stations, but in their pri­vate and secret walks; for every thing which they have done in the body. Indeed their responsibility instead of being di­minished by the greatness and exalted stations which they possess, is greatly increased, and rendered far more high and awful. It is a responsibility equal to all their greatness, ad­vantages and opportunities. For unto whomsoever much is giv­en, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have commit­ted much, of him will they ask the more *. They appear before the tribunal of the SUPREME JUDGE of the universe, with whom there is no respect of persons, nor taking of gifts, and who regardeth not the rich more than the poor .

IN these respects persons of the most exalted characters die like men, and fall like one of the princes. They have the same things to hope and fear, to enjoy or suffer, in the eternal world, as other men.

[Page 14]I SHALL now make some useful remarks on what has been discoursed, and then proceed more particularly to notice the mournful event, which has led me to these meditations.

I. AS civil magistrates are Gods, in the views we have ta­ken of them, they ought most certainly to be honored, obey­ed, and supported according to the high and awful character which GOD hath given them, and the authority and dignity with which he hath clothed them. We must honor them, for the MOST HIGH hath put great honor upon them. He hath commanded, Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due,—honor to whom honor . We must obey them, because he who is the fountain of all power hath given them authority to rule over us, and commanded us to be sub­ject not only for wrath, but for conscience sake . Those who resist their authority and laws, who despise and revile them, despise, resist, and dishonor GOD himself. They despise his goodness in giving them the inestimable blessing of good government. They violate their consciences and expose themselves to temporal and eternal judgments. How awful are the words of the apostle on this subject? And they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation .

II. FROM a review of our subject we are led to acknow­lege the divine wisdom and goodness, in raising up men of uncommon abilities, in the various ages and emergencies of the church, for her protection and prosperity, and for the general happiness of mankind. In a particular manner, should they be acknowleged, in his causing such a number of great, illuminated, bold, and patriotic characters to appear on the theatre of action, at the time of the American revo­lution. Especially, do they shine with a conspicuous and commanding lustre, in raising up that pre-eminent man, General WASHINGTON, to command our armies, and illumi­nate our councils, until he had established our independence, and we had obtained the blessings of an honorable and ad­vantageous peace: and then in exalting him to the chair of the supreme magistrate, to guide the affairs of the nation, for such a number of years, until he had raised it to a high degree of dignity, prosperity and glory. This demands the most lively gratitude and animated thanksgivings of the mil­lions of the American states. Nor is the divine goodness to be unnoticed in the great talents, fidelity, and patriotism of [Page 15] the illustrious men who negociated the peace. Adams, Franklin and Jay, are names never to be forgotten by Ame­rica. Nor are they less to be regarded, in the patriotism and valour of our officers and soldiers, and in the capacity, fidelity, invincible fortitude and attachment to their country, with which the members of Congress and the magistrates of the American states in general, and of this state in particu­lar, conducted our public affairs. They have indeed em­balmed their names; and, with a sweet fragrance, they will be handed down, in the remembrance of a grateful people, to the remotest ages. But whatever honors and thanks are to be given to men, the SUPREME GOVERNOR is ultimately to be acknowleged and praised for all the wonderful things which have been done for our country; and for the unrival­led, public and private privileges and blessings which we en­joy. While therefore we contemplate the amiable charac­ter of general Washington, his prowess and military skill, his abilities as a statesman, his firmness, integrity and fidelity in government, his generosity and usefulness, and mingle our tears of condolence at his fall, let us in all these acknow­lege the divine hand, and give glory to him, whose kingdom ruleth over all.

III. THE views we have taken of the mortality and re­sponsibility of created gods, will lead us to a number of in­teresting and profitable reflections, with respect to magis­trates and all great men, and also with respect to ourselves.

THE solemn thoughts▪ that death will soon wrest the scep­tre and the sword from the hands of the most exalted and powerful, and defile their crowns in the dust: That their robes of state, and seats of dignity must be exchanged for the winding shroud and the dark grave, are most powerfully cal­culated to check the pride of office: To teach lessons of meekness, condescension and goodness:—The vanity of hu­man life, of worldly honor and greatness, and of all the wealth, pomp and glitter of the present world. What can possibly impress with greater energy upon the human heart that divine maxim, Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity . How doth this consideration stain the pride of all human glory! What can be more energetic to excite great men, and all men, So to number their days, that they may apply their hearts unto wisdom? The thoughts of their res­ponsibility [Page 16] to the judge of the universe, are adapted with great energy to guard them against the thirst of domination, against the numerous lusts and temptations to which, in high stations and high life, they are exposed. They have a hap­py influence to guard them against selfishness and sinister views, against oppression and violence, against the taking of gifts and respect of persons. These thoughts are weighty to awaken them to the most laborious diligence, activity and faithfulness in the duties of their office: Nay, to be really pious, righteous, humane and temperate; and to seek those substantial and permanent honors which come only from GOD. Happy and honorable indeed will it be for magis­trates and all great men, who shall frequently dwell on these meditations, and who will suffer themselves to be suitably influenced by them. Then when they shall put off the badg­es of state, and the garments of mortality, and be removed from seats of dignity and thrones of judgment on earth, they will be clothed in the robes of righteousness and garments of salvation, and be exalted to seats and crowns immortal in the presence of their GOD and REDEEMER.

THAT they must die like men, teacheth us to put no trust in princes, since they are vanity, and to make not flesh our arm. It speaks in this energetic language, Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of .

OUR subject should check all trust and glorying in our­selves, in the health, strength, or beauty of our bodies, in the vigor and sprightliness either of body or mind; since GOD will most certainly change our countenances and send us a­way. These strong and beautiful bodies, will soon be pale, ghastly, and moulder in the dust. Does not our subject and the providence we are contemplating cry, nay does not hea­ven cry, All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the field? How should these views awaken all our attention, exertions and prayers to secure the one thing needful, that better part, that incorruptible and undefiled in­heritance which never shall be taken from us, and which ne­ver will fade away? How should they engage us to do whatever our hand findeth to do with all our might? To improve every opportunity of doing good, and to fill up ev­ery condition and portion of life with usefulness and duty?

[Page 17]IV. OUR subject teacheth us to acknowlege the divine providence in the death of great and good men, who have been the political fathers, saviours, and benefactors of their country, and to be humbled and mourn under such awful dis­pensations.

IT is GOD who putteth them down, as well as setteth them up. Our times are in his hands. The number of our months are with him, and he hath appointed our bounds that we can­not pass. He hath not only determined the degree and ex­tent, but the term of every man's usefulness. He turneth man to destruction, and hath said, Return ye children of men. His awful, afflictive providence therefore, in the late sudden death of that great, useful and good man, general WASH­INGTON, who for so many years commanded the armies of the UNITED STATES of America, and sustained the dignified office of their chief magistrate, calls us to deep humiliation and mourning. Our sorrow ought to be, in some measure proportionate to his worth, the magnitude of the services he hath rendered us, and of the loss we have sustained. Great bereavements call for great mourning and humiliation.

WHEN Moses that eminent servant of GOD died, who had delivered Israel from the house of bondage, and was king in Jeshurun, all Israel mourned for him. When that excellent prince Josiah fell, All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him, and Jeremiah lamented for Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations unto this day . And is the first of men for genius, for military skill and prowess, for wisdom and civil policy, for patriotism and the knowlege of men, the saviour, Father and glory of his country fallen; I say, is this prince and great man fallen in our Israel, and shall not America mourn? Do not I see all her citizens in sackcloth? While we contemplate his cha­racter, his services and mournful exit, and condole with our country and with each other in our incalculable loss, does not every breast heave with sorrow, and all eyes run down with tears?

THAT we may form any just estimate of our loss, we must contemplate his character and public usefulness.

HE was born in the parish of Washington in the county of Westmoreland, in Virginia, on the 11th of February 1732, [Page 18] Old Style. He was considerably above the middling size, his limbs were large and well proportioned, and his figure was graceful and dignified*. His countenance appeared bold and thoughtful, but placid and winning. He had a good, though not a public education. Such was the strength and accuracy of his genius, the agreeableness of his manners, and his general acquaintance with men and things, that he began, in early life, to be noticed as a man of talents, and to be introduced to public business. In 1753, when he was about twenty-one years of age, he was sent by the governor of Virginia with plenary powers, to the commandant of the French fort near the Ohio, to demand of him the reasons of his encroachments on the British dominions, and of the violence which had been offered to the subjects of Great Bri­tain, in that quarter; and to insist on his evacuating the fort which he had erected. The French governor laid claim to the whole country and refused to give up his fortress; but major Washington conducted the business of his commis­sion with such address, expedition, and accuracy, as further recommended him to public notice. The next year he was made a lieutenant-colonel, and commanded a regiment of Virginians. In 1755, he went an extra aid-de-camp with general Braddock. At the time of his memorable defeat, he behaved with such gallantry, in preserving the remains of his broken army, as procured him still greater honour . [Page 19] The supreme authority of Virginia was so deeply impressed with a sense of his worth and military talents, that he was made adjutant-general of all the troops raised, and to be raised in Virginia. In 1758, he commanded the van-brigade, in the army of general Forbes, in the successful expedition against fort Du Quesne. From about the year 1760 to the commencement of the dispute with Great-Britain, he was elected a member of the general assembly in Virginia, was a magistrate, and a judge of the court of the county of Fairfax, in which he resided. In 1774, he was elected member to the first congress. He was elected also member of the se­cond, in 1775, in which on the 15th of June he was appoint­ed commander in chief of the armies of the united colonies. This arduous command he accepted at a time of great peril to America; and during eight successive campaigns, subjected himself to the hardships of a soldier, jeoparding his life in the high places, for the defence of the liberties, lives and property of his fellow-citizens, and to secure the peace, safety and prosperity of his country.

WHEN he took the command, the Americans had not a regular regiment nor fortress, nor did they possess an arm­ed ship. They were almost without arms, artillery, ammu­nition and other means of defence. The colonies were at­tacked by sea and land, by the most formidable force that ever invaded a young country. He was called to act against the best generals and troops which Europe could boast. They had gathered laurels in Europe and America, in Flanders, at Louisburg, and on the plains of Abraham. They were furnished with the best arms, and the finest train of artillery, served by the best engineers which Great-Britain or Germa­ny could produce. A great part of his army, until nearly the close of the war, consisted of militia and troops who were only temporary; and he had often to disband one army and form another in the very face of the enemy. Yet he made a surprising defence. He was never once surprized, never lost an army, nor suffered any considerable defeat. His army was generally much inferior to that of the enemy, [Page 20] yet he finally baffled all their arts, totally defeated their designs, and, under the superintendance of a gracious pro­vidence, raised the United States to independence, peace, and glory.

DURING his command, he exhibited striking demonstra­tions of an uncommon genius, a singular knowledge of man­kind, and the most masterly strokes of generalship.

WHEN he arrived before Boston, he found it invested with a half armed and undisciplined multitude, hastily drawn to­gether from their fields and shops, the greater part of whom, though a bold and virtuous yeomanry, had never before seen a campaign, nor the forming of a single regiment. In New England, he had made no connexions, and was scarcely known. To its legislatures, to its men of principal charac­ter, to the officers and troops, who composed his army, he was an entire stranger. Yet he was able, of this chaotic mass, to form an army, introduce system, obedience, disci­pline, and bravery. He at once possessed himself of the af­fection and confidence of his officers and of the whole army. Equally did he possess himself of the esteem of all the New-England patriots and colonies; and was able to point their whole force to the object of his wishes. Though he had not only an army to harmonize, before a numerous enemy of veterans, but, for a time, almost to create the means of de­fence, yet he was able, for many months, to keep them in [Page 21] a constant state of siege and alarm; and at length, notwith­standing all their force and vigilance, to take such positions as to oblige them, to save their fleet and army, to evacuate the town and port of Boston.

HIS army afterwards consisted of the troops of thirteen different states, different in education, manners views and interests, of troops from Canada and France, of different nations and languages, yet he shared deeply in the esteem and confidence of the whole. How did he harmonize the armies of the United States?—The fleets and armies of France and America? In the darkest periods of the war, and through the whole of it, how perfectly did he enjoy the [Page 22] affections and confidence of the army, of Congress, and of every state in the union? Indeed he had such command of the hearts of men, that his troops would abide with him in cold, hunger, nakedness and in all hardships and dangers.

HIS retreat from Long Island, in 1776, was such a mas­terpiece of generalship as is rarely exhibited in the history of man. In one short night, in the face of a superior ene­my, he brought off about nine thousand men, without the loss of a single company. His retreat from the Island of New York, and through the Jersies were exhibitions of the same great mind.

THE manner of his recrossing the Delaware, the surprisal and capture of the Hessians at Trenton, the march which he stole upon Cornwallis, and the defeat of the British troops at Princeton, were feats of greater brilliancy, and far more important and glorious in their consequences. The affairs of the union were now at their lowest ebb. The political pulse was almost gone; but these unexpected and surprizing movements and victories, snatched us from the jaws of death, rekindled the vital spark, and diffused life and joy through all America*.

[Page 23]NOT to mention the attack and capture of Stony Point, which was a plan of his great mind, to prevent the further burning of towns and depredations of the enemy, nor the battle of Monmouth, it is to be observed that, like a beau­tiful [Page 24] climax, he rose in the force and brilliancy of his actions. The manner in which he outgeneralled Clinton and the Bri­tish officers in the removal of his army from the vicinity of New York, to Yorktown in Virginia, and the capture of Cornwallis, made the fullest display of the greatness of the man, and gloriously finished his military career*.

[Page 25]THE self denials, hardships, dangers and anxieties which he endured for his country, admit of no calculation. The high places round Boston, the heights of Dorchester, Long and York Islands, the White plains and the High lands in New York, Trenton, Princeton, the Brandywine, Morris Town, Valley Forge, Germantown, Monmouth and York­town, witnessed his fatigues and dangers, the mighty la­bours and anxieties of his mind, the energies of his sword and pen. A mind so illuminated and comprehensive as his, could not but feel a mighty impression from the magnitude of the cause in which he embarked, from a view of the diffi­culties and dangers with which, it was attended, and of the extensive and dreadful consequences of not succeeding in his attempts. No other mind could so fully know, comprehend, and deeply feel them. What calculation in this view, can be made of his feelings for himself and his country, es­pecially in some of the most dark and critical moments? The joy with which he received the news of peace, the dig­nity with which he resigned his commission and retired to the peaceful walks of private life, when the objects of the war were accomplished, are equally incalculable.

WHEN the defectability of our first federal system became manifest, he again came forward among our first patriots, [Page 26] and presided in the formation of our present national consti­tution, under which the United States have arisen to such respectability, opulence and glory. Notwithstanding his great predilection for the enjoyments of private life, yet at the unanimous call of his country, he accepted the high and arduous office of the chief magistrate of the nation. With what solid and magnanimous principles, founded in morali­ty and religion, did he commence his administration? How soon did he demonstrate the wisdom of the choice which Ame­rica had made; and that he was not less distinguished by civil policy and the art of government, than in that of war?

HOW did he remove difficulties, answer previous obliga­tions, harmonize and strengthen the union, clear and bright­en the path to national peace, prosperity and honor? How did the millions of the American States realize the happy effects of his administration, and rejoice under its righteous, mild and benign influence?

AS years increased the ardor of his desire to return to the rank of a private citizen also increased. When the pre­sidential term expired he had drawn up his farewell address, and was prepared to proclaim his intentions. But at the united and ardent solicitations of all around him, and upon a view of the critical state of the union, he once more sacrificed private inclination to the public weal. A second time was he unanimously chosen to the supreme magistracy. What im­portant services did he again render to his country? While war has hung out its bloody flag through the principal na­tions in Europe, and through a great part of the old world; and mankind have been slaughtered, cities erased, and king­doms shaken beyond all parallel in modern ages, through his wisdom, and invincible firmness, the United States have not only enjoyed peace; but, beyond all former precedent, have increased in number, settlements, husbandry, navigation and commerce. The happy effects of his administration have extended their benign influence to enemies, as well as to fellow-citizens. The hostile Indians have not only been conquered and reduced to a state of peace, but through his recommendation and influence, their condition has been greatly ameliorated. Laws have been enacted providing not only for their peace and safety, but for their convenience and prosperity.

AFTER more than twenty years of the most arduous, pub­lic services, and when there were the fairest prospects, that [Page 27] he would a third time be unanimously called to the chair of the supreme magistrate, he once more retired to the rank of a private citizen. No man had ever rendered more essential and extensive services to his country than he; yet, as though all this had been too little to answer the public demands, and satisfy the great and generous impulses of his own mind, when the exigencies of his country required it, he again ac­cepted the chief command of our armies, to defend us against the intrigues and violence of a most terrible nation.

HE rendered all his services with a peerless generosity, to­tally declining every pecuniary consideration. In every emergency he exhibited the same greatness of mind, the same invincible fidelity and attachment to his country; sacrificing all private considerations, and consecrating all the powers with which heaven had enriched him, to the public good. No bribes, no offers of preferment, no dangers could make him deviate from the path of honor and duty. Of him it might not with less truth be said, than of the Roman Fabri­cius, WASHINGTON is the man who may with more difficulty be removed from the ways of honor, than the sun from his course *. [Page 28] Indeed in him were united the three great characters of Fa­bricius, Fabius, and Cincinnatus. He adored the divine pro­vidence, called the United States, and his troops, on special occasions, to acknowledge and praise the GOD of armies! How did he in his last address to his fellow-citizens, recom­mend morality and religion as the most stable and sure basis of public happiness? He rose superior to local prejudices for states or nations. He could not be intoxicated with pros­perity, nor be depressed with adversity. In his numerous speeches and addresses, on various occasions, we find not a single expression of vanity, nor an invective against his ene­mies. He was efficacious, but mild in government; inof­fensive and engaging in his manners, temperate and regular in his mode of living, generous to public institutions, and charitable to the poor In him, in a high degree, were ex­emplified, the character which has just been given of the [Page 29] good magistrate. Impartiality, justice and patriotism were prominent features of his whole administration, both in his military and civil capacity. How did the fruit of his victo­ries, and of his wise, righteous and peaceful civil administra­tion, like the rising sun, diffuse joy and festivity through the whole union? When through the energies of his wisdom and prowess, the thunder of war ceased in all our coasts, and peace with her olive branch quieted America; When her dis­persed inhabitants returned, and repossessed their abandoned cities and villages; Yes, when from captivity, doleful prisons, and the high places of the field, he restored her hardy sons to the bosom of their country, to the embraces of parents and bre­thren, of wives and children, was he not to you as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds? When under his happy administration, your ruined towns and cities were rebuilt, your depopulated tracts repeopled, your settlements extended, your navigation and commerce increased: nay, when he preserved your peace, amidst the convulsions and wars of so many conflicting kingdoms, was he not to you, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain? Was not he the magistrate under whose government the people universally rejoiced? In a word, he was the father, the patriot, the saviour and glory of his country. Above all men he possessed the hearts of his fellow-citizens; and having lived well, he closed the scene of days with the same composure, dignity and fortitude, with which he lived. These facts beyond a thousand pane­gyrics, beyond all the pomp and swell of words, demon­strate the greatness, the incomparable worth and services of the man, and the irreparable loss of America in his mournful exit. But alas he is no more! His heart which was so warm, and beat so high in his country's weal is cold and beats no more. His limbs which were so beautiful, vigor­ous, and active, are frozen in the embrace of death. Yes, the beloved Washington lies in the dark tomb. Death feeds upon him there. O Mount Vernon, how dost thou tremble at his fall? What mourning spreads through thy spacious domes and humble cots? What lamentations rise from all thy lofty groves and pleasant walks? How does the sorrow spread from city to city, from state to state, and pervade all America? How will it cross the Atlantic and urge the silent tear from thousands of Europeans eyes? Weep, O Vir­ginia, your glory is departed. Weep, ye sages of the na­tion, all ye gods of America. Weep, O ye officers and ar­mies whom he commanded, whom he loved, and led to glo­ry. Weep, O ye Cincinnati, ye Masonic brethren, and all [Page 30] who have eyes to weep and hearts to mourn, come, show how you loved him, come, water his tomb with your tears.

BUT mourn with entire acquiesence and submission. For GOD hath said, He should die like a man, and fall like one of the princes. He hath determined the time and circum­stances of his death. And as for GOD his way is perfect. His language to man is, Be still and know that I am GOD.

MOURN thankfully, that you have enjoyed your beloved Washington, for so many years; and that GOD enabled him to render unto his country such extensive and essential servi­ces: That we have an Adams, a man so distinguished in po­litics, of such known and tried integrity, and who for such a length of time, hath rendered such essential, national services, to guide our political affairs; and that while so large a por­tion of mankind are engaged in such bloody and horrible wars, we enjoy such a degree of peace, such distinguishing privileges and growing prosperity. What united, constant and animated thanksgivings do such blessings demand?

MOURN with profit to yourselves. All the dispensations of GOD are full of instruction. His chastisements are for our profit. Let us be sure to be instructed and benefited by them. Let us learn the incalculable evil of sin, which has subjected us, and the whole race of man to death: which opens every grave and fills every bitter cup: which expo­seth every soul of man to indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and let us tremble and repent without delay. Let us entertain the deepest impressions of the vanity of hu­man life, and of all sublunary enjoyments; not only of the certainty, but nearness of death. Realize, my brethren, how short and precarious is the term of life and usefulness. How the short term of twenty, or twenty-five years, has swept the stage of all the great men, who were upon it, at that distance of time? Where now are our generals, the presi­dents of Congress, and the governors of our states? Where are Randolph, Hancock, Huntington, Green and Washing­ton, Trumbull, Griswold, and Wolcott? Where are their compatriots and cotemporaries, but in the grave? How nearly are those stepping off into eternity, who have been upon it the same length of time, or even longer? How sud­den may be the awful transition? How did a few hours re­duce our most beloved and useful fellow-citizen, from a state of perfect health to a breathless corpse? With what serious­ness should every one enquire, am I ready for a change so [Page 31] sudden and momentous? Shall we not all work while the day lasteth, since the night cometh, nay, may so suddenly come, when no man can work?

WHILE we contemplate great and pre-eminent characters let us strive to imitate them. Behold, ye magistrates of America, ye created and mortal gods, the character of your political father, your beloved Washington, and while you admire, imitate his exalted virtues. Like him, by patrio­tism, integrity, impartiality and extensive usefulness, make glad the hearts of your fellow-citizens, and embalm your names to the latest posterity. Like him harmonize the measures and hearts of your countrymen, and promote our external and internal peace and prosperity. Behold him, ye young men, and all ye inhabitants of the United States and learn to love your country, to prize its constitutions, to be public spirited and seek her peace, and with your lives and property defend her just rights and important interests. Know how to appreciate your inestimable privileges, your birth right and fair inheritance, transmitted to you from the most worthy ancestors, and purchased at the expense of so much blood and treasure. Defend them like men and never part with them, but with your lives. Aspire to true great­ness, consisting in piety, righteousness, and universal good­ness. Be rich in faith and good works, and heirs of the kingdom which GOD hath promised to them that love him.

IN a word, mourn not with despondency, but with a firm and humble confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of the SUPREME RULER. When creatures die, and you have the most striking demonstrations, that all which cometh is vanity, let this be your consolation, that, The LORD reign­eth, that he will reign, and that his mercy endureth forever. He will never forsake his people. If we will be willing and obedient, we shall still eat of the good of the land. GOD is in the midst of Zion: HE will help her, and that right early . In HIM therefore let us repose all our hopes: To HIM ren­der all obedience, all honor and blessing, thanksgiving and power, majesty and dominion, now and for ever.

AMEN.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.