THIS day, which has for many years been ob­served with pious gratitude and joy, and con­secrated to social festivity as giving birth to so emi­nent a person as General GEORGE WASHING­TON, is now turned into the deepest grief and mourning on account of his final departure from this terrestrial state. That I may aid and assist you in a due performance of the duties of the day, and in a religious improvement of so affecting and pain­ful an event in Divine Providence, I have selected those words of the sacred historian to discourse up­on, which you find recorded in



This Moses was raised up, by GOD, to be the principal instrument, in the hands of Providence, of redeeming the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage, of leading them through the wilderness for the space of forty years, and conducting them to the borders of the promised land. But it was the will of Heaven that Moses should not go over Jordan. He was, indeed indulged with a view of that pleasant, good and fruitful land which the Jews were soon to enter and possess; and he saw the happy prospects before them of enjoying relig­ion and government, peace, liberty and plenty, unexampled prosperity and happiness in the land of Canaan: But he must not live to enjoy them himself. For GOD had expressly said unto him, "Get the up unto Mount Nebo, and die in the Mount whither thou goest up." "So Moses the Servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD." Then, says the sacred writer, as in the text, "And the children of Israel wept for Moses, in the plains of Moab, thirty days: So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended."

From which words I observe—that it accords with the divine will that a whole people should be [Page 7] deeply affected with, and mourn and lament, the death of eminent persons, such as have been pub­lic blessings, great benefactors to the human race, and been made instruments of redeeming a people from misery and wretchedness, and of vindicating them into freedom and happiness.

This appears from the following considerations.

In the first place; it is natural to the human race to be sensible of, to be much affected with, and to be grieved and pained at heart, upon the removal of any earthly comfort and blessing; and especially of any near relative, or great friend and benefactor:—And what is thus natural cannot be sinful; (unless our grief and lamentation be indulg­ed to excess, and we refuse to be comforted,) but it is lawful, nay commendable and truly ornamental, and agreeable to the will of the wise Author of our frame and constitution. To be unaffected in such cases would argue a great insensibility of the worth and value of such gifts and that we were not suffi­ciently grateful to GOD for bestowing them up­on us; and further, it would frustrate some of the important moral purposes of the righteous Gover­nor of the world in their removal. Such feelings have been sanctified and sanctioned by JESUS CHRIST, our great pattern and exemplar, who, in the days of his flesh, and when he dwelt among [Page 8] men, wept upon the death of his intimate and en­deared friend Lazarus.

Such grief and lamentation has been observed from the beginning: And especially has the mourn­ing been great and general upon the removal of any eminent and good person, who had been a benefactor of mankind and a blessing to the world. This appears from divers scripture instances. When Jacob, who also was called Israel, died, all the children of Israel, and all the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days: "And when the Canaanites saw the mourning, they said this is a grievous mourning." So also, it is said "When all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel." So when that eminent king Josiah died, it is thus written, "All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jere­miah lamented for Josiah: And all the singing men and singing women spake of Josiah in their la­mentations, and made them an ordinance in Israel." There are other instances recorded in the bible; but I must not stop to mention them. This of Moses spoken of in the text and context, is very full and particular. The whole nation of the jews deeply lamented the death of this man, who had been such a mighty instrument, under GOD, of [Page 9] their temporal redemption and salvation. And that such mourning and lamentation were agreeable to the divine will, appears, further, from those in­stances wherein every thing of this kind upon the death of persons of an opposite character was ex­pressly prohibited by GOD himself: He declared that no such tokens of respect and regard for them should be manifested: As in the case of Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, who, for offering strange fire before the LORD, were immediately devoured by fire from the LORD: And GOD forbids Aaron and his other sons mourning for them at all. It seems that thirty days was the length of time in general, in which they exhibited their signs and badges of mourning for their dead. But it does not appear that GOD gave any express statute to Israel, that they should mourn just that term of time for persons of eminence and distinc­tion, and who had been great blessings to the na­tion, and to the world. Nevertheless, it was no doubt from some divine intimation that they were led to observe so many days for public mourning. The instances referred to above, are recorded in sacred history with evident marks of the divine ap­probation, as what was highly proper, and as be­coming the relation and condition of mankind; they show that this was a "reasonable service."

[Page 10]From the text and what has been said, we may infer, that it becomes us, that it becomes the peo­ple of these United States, to mourn and lament the death of that great and good man, General GEORGE WASHINGTON, who was, indeed, to this people a Moses, in many respects.

But in a religious discourse of this kind, we must previously remark, that it is highly proper that we look above means, instruments and second causes; to the great first cause of all things, to the Supreme Arbiter and the Sovereign disposer of all events which take place throughout the Universe; and to eye and acknowledge the hand of the Almighty in all this, from the very first to the very last.

GOD works by means and instruments. When Israel must go down into Egypt to sojourn there, Joseph was conducted thither, by the unerring hand of heaven, to be an instrument of their sup­ply and support, preservation and salvation. How­ever unnatural and unjustifiable the means by which Joseph was at first brought into Egypt, "GOD meant it unto good, to save much people alive."

When the people of Israel, after four hundred and thirty years, were to be redeemed from cruel Egyptian bondage, then Moses was brought upon the stage, and being of mature age, GOD sent him [Page 11] to be the ruler and deliverer of his chosen people. He was furnished by the author of his existence, with proper talents and gifts to be their leader, their captain, general, and commander in chief:—And besides being "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians;" he was divinely instructed to be their lawgiver and judge▪ And was a man approved of GOD among them, by myracles and signs and wonders, which GOD did, by him, in the midst of them. GOD led that people through the wilder­ness, for the space of forty years, through the min­istry of Moses, until they came to the borders of the promised land.

When the reformation from Popery was to com­mence, GOD prepared his instruments. He rais­ed up and brought upon the theatre proper per­sons to effect the same, as Luther, Calvin, Wick­liff, John Huss, Jerome, and a large catalogue of others.

When these United States, but then British prov­inces, were groaning under the oppressive acts of the parliament of England, and when the measure of her cruelties was full and running over, and could no longer have been borne, without haz­arding all our rights liberties and property:—And when we must stand forth in their defence, or sub­mit to be bound by the acts of the British Legis­lature [Page 12] in all cases whatsoever:—Then GOD, "who sees the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things not yet done;" brought our WASHINGTON upon the stage, and of ma­ture age, and well furnished with natural talents, and acquired accomplishments to act a most conspic­uous part upon the theatre of the world. Being born on the 11th of February, 1732, old style, he was but a little more than 43 years of age, when the war between Great Britain and these American Colonies, commenced. He was then a member of Congress for his native state, and every eye of that august body was directed to him as the most suitable person, to be the head and leader of our armies. For this high and most interesting station, he was, on many accounts, the best qualified, of any man in North America, and probably in the world; being then in his full strength and glory, and possessing those great military talents, which had been matured by age, and the experience of several years of actual service in American wars; being but about eighteen years of age when he be­gan his military career in Virginia, his native State. In the year 1755 he came into more general no­tice, when he acted as Aid-decamp to the unfortu­nate General BRADDOCK, who was killed in the Western Territory, in the beginning of the last [Page 13] French and British war on this Continent; and whose army had then been entirely destroyed, had not HIS martial skill and prowess saved a remnant, as some of you, advanced in life, can remember. Various reasons combined to lead the American Congress to make choice of him: He had already manifested great abilities as a commander, in di­vers trying situations: He was a man possessed of very large and most extensive property, which was at stake as well as the dearest interests of his coun­try: He was a man of a cool and dispassionate temper, and of a moderate disposition, and yet firm in his country's cause;—acting upon principle, and from a clear and full conviction in his own mind, that we were injured and wronged by the parent State; and, finally, he was a man of un­corruptible integrity and honor, in whom the full­est confidence might be placed, if he entered upon a station of such high responsibility. That he was formed and furnished, by the wise author of our being, "who distributeth to every man several­ly as he will," to serve his country in the military department, was apparent from his earliest youth; and his military genius he cultivated and improv­ed by reading, observation and experience. And in the course of our revolutionary war, his martial spirit, genius and talents, were fully tried in divers [Page 14] critical and important situations, and, through the favor of heaven, they were found superior to ev­ery difficulty and obstacle which he had to encoun­ter. In a word, when the future, faithful, impar­tial historian shall record and dwell upon the fol­lowing facts, that he at first, only headed a body of men entirely unacquainted with military discipline or operations, untaught in the principles of just subordination; but sanguine in those of liberty:— That, at best, they could only be stiled an alert and good militia, acting under very short enlistments, poorly supplied with cloathing, arms or military stores: And that with such an army he withstood the ravages and progress of near forty thousand vet­eran troops, plentifully provided with every neces­sary article, commanded by the bravest officers in Europe, and supported by a very powerful navy, which effectually prevented all movements of ours by water:—When, I say, these things shall be im­partially related and weighed, WASHINGTON will be unanimously pronounced the greatest Gen­eral of the age in which he lived, or of any who had gone before him, and that his name will command the applause and admiration of the latest posterity.

"Many nations have been favoured with some patriotic deliverer:—The Israelites had their Mo­ses:—Rome had her Camillus:—Greece her Le­onidas: [Page 15] —Sweden her Gustavus:—And England her Hamdens, her Russells, and her Sydneys: But these illustrious heroes, though successful in pre­serving and defending, did not, like WASHING­TON, form and establish empires, which we hope, will be the refuge of the oppressed, and the asylum of liberty to the end of time."

You must not expect that I give you a narra­tive of the various events of the war: This is more proper for the history of his life, than for a sermon. No doubt the life of General WASHINGTON, his great and noble acts, the might and wisdom he shewed, and how he warred, and all that he did, will be written in a book of the Chronicles of the Pat­riots and Generals, the Presidents and Worthies of America, and which will be read with avidity and delight by all grateful Americans of every age.

Let it suffice for me to say, that he was always care­ful and tender of the lives of the soldiery:—And they in return, confided in, loved and cheerfully obeyed him:—That he never hazzarded a battle but where there was the greatest human probability of success:—That he gained divers important victories without much fighting, and sometimes without the shedding of blood. GOD evidently owned him as his instrument of saving these States from the hands of our enemies, of redeeming us from cruel [Page 16] oppression and bondage, of procuring our inde­pendence, of securing our inestimable rights, lib­erties and priviledges, both civil and religious, and of enabling us to take our rank among the Nations of the Earth. Through his wise and superior gen­eralship, the war was conducted to a happy and glorious issue in about eight years:—A much shorter space than we could rationally have expect­ed. And then he nobly resigned his command in 1783, and returned to enjoy the sweets of retirment, and to pursue the agricultural arts wherein he great­ly delighted.

But here he was not suffered long to rest: For when the confederation was found inefficient to our security, honor and happiness, and a national convention was called for, General WASHING­TON was chosen a member:—And when conven­ed, he was elected president of that wise, faithful and august body, who formed our present excel­ent constitution of government, which is the boast of Americans, the envy of many nations, and the admiration of the world:—And under the benign influence of which, we have risen to an astonishing height of national opulence and glory, prosperity and happiness. When this form of government was put in operation, General WASHINGTON [Page 17] received the unanimous suffrages of all the states to be our first magistrate and supreme executive. Here he presided eight years, (from April 30th, 1789, to March 4th 1797) with great wisdom and dignity, and made the government and people of America respected through the world. In all his public conduct he seemed as one inspired and di­rected of heaven. He had an amazing influence over the public mind; and guided their measures without appearing so to do. He had great knowl­edge of human nature; could see far into the views of men; and in most cases knew in whom to con­fide. In the close of the year 1796 he declin­ed being a candidate for the presidency, at the then ensuing election, choosing to retire from pub­lic life, and took his leave, in a most affectionate farewell address to the people, which does honor to his head and heart;—which ought to be in ev­ery house and imprinted on the memory of every acting citizen. This shews him to have been a great statesman and politician. The sentiments therein contained, may serve as a political ther­mometer and ought to be as a pole star to form and guide the political opinions and conduct of every lover of his country's independence, honor and glo­ry, and of every friend to man.

But in his longed for retirement he was not suffered [Page 18] to remain. When these United States were load­ed with insults and abuses, and endured the basest spoliations, from a haughty, faithless, insidious na­tion; and we were likely to be driven into war in self-defence, General WASHINGTON was ap­pointed, by President ADAMS, to the command of all our military forces, which he readily accepted, in his advanced age, if thereby he could serve his country. This was a most judicious appoint­ment: —For he was as an host of himself:—Our enemies trembled at his very name:—And aston­ishment took hold of them, when they found he would serve in that high and important station.

And here we must be careful to mention, that from the year 1775, to his death, he utterly de­clined receiving any other compensation for his public services in the cause of his country, than on­ly the defraying his necessary expences, which greatly heightened our national obligations to him. THIS is what few men could have done, and what we have no right to expect of any, since all have a just claim to an equivalent for whatever services they render the people.

But to return; in the high office, of Lieutenant General and Commander of our armies, was he act­ing when a sudden death, after a few hours illness, arrested him, at his seat at Mount Vernon, on the [Page 19] 14th of December 1799, in the 68th year of his age. His death in this day of our doubtful expectations, notwithstanding he was grown grey in his country's service, may be a far greater loss to this land than we are now apprehensive of: For whether we shall be driven into war or not, is yet uncertain.

But let us not despond;—let us place a rational trust in the everlasting GOD, who has been our helper hitherto:—And who says, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help: His breath goeth forth, he re­turneth to his earth: In that very day his thoughts perish. Happy are they who have the GOD of Jacob for their help; whose hope is in the LORD their GOD, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all which therein is: Who keepeth truth for­ever." This GOD, who has begun to save us, will not leave nor forsake us, if we do not provoke him, by denying the GOD who made us, and lightly esteeming the rock of our salvation. Had the LORD been minded, to destroy this land he would not have conducted us hitherto, nor have wrought for us such great deliverances as in years which are past. With Him is the residue of the spirit; he is able to raise up others who shall do wor­thily and well in the cabinet and in the field. We need not distress ourselves, for as Moses saw Joshua [Page 20] appointed his successor, and GOD said to him "As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee;" So WASHINGTON saw his successor in the Presi­dency, and to him could cheerfully leave the care of this people, knowing his superior abilities, un­shaken integrity, and disinterested patriotism. We have an ADAMS at the head of our national gov­ernment, possessed of great talents, following the steps of his illustrious predecessor; a man of strict virtue, of real piety and true goodness; and who has given many unequivocal proofs of his firm at­tachment to the best interests, prosperity and glo­ry of his native country.

Before I conclude my discourse, I would observe that while I have not the remotest inclination, dis­position or idea to detract from the merit, praise and glory of General WASHINGTON, yet I think there is occasion to suggest two cautions;—One is, that we guard against every thing that favors idolatry. In the writings of some Panegyrists upon this great and good man, we find expressions which, when the feelings and passions of men subside, they cannot approve or justify: And conveying ideas which WASHINGTON himself, could he hear them and reply, would disclaim. We should remember that GOD formed him with all his [Page 21] bright assemblage of talents lent him to us, pre­served his important life so long and made him all that to us which he was, even an ornament and bles­sing to his country. While then, we highly extol the man, and celebrate his great and patriotic deeds, let us ultimately ascribe the glory and praise to the Most High GOD.

In the next place, we should guard against as­cribing all, or too much, to one man. General WASHINGTON may be justly viewed as one of the first and greatest instruments of the temporal salvation and happiness of his country: But ma­ny others members of Congress and officers and soldiers in the army, contributed their share, ac­cording to their rank and station, to the emanci­pation, independence and prosperity of these Unit­ed States. And this General WASHINGTON was always careful to allow and acknowledge. And throughout his whole life he manifested this act of piety, that he was always sensible of, and failed not to acknowledge that overruling Provi­dence of GOD which made him an instrument of so much good to the world, and which always ap­peared to second his wishes and smile upon his ex­ertions to serve and save his country. And when closing his eyes upon earth, and looking forward into the eternal world, (being in the full exercise of [Page 22] his reason) might he not humbly say and pray, "Remember me, O my GOD, for good, accord­ing to all that I have done for this people."

And now, in the midst of all the sorrow and grief we ought to express at the removal of this first of mere men from this world, let us never forget to manifest our gratitude to the all-wise Former of our bodies and Father of our spirits, for his good­ness and benevolence in raising up such a person to adorn and discriminate the eighteenth century; and that he so richly endowed and so abundantly, furnished him to become so great and extensive a blessing to this land. And, in particular, that when jeoparding his life in the high places of the field, when leading our armies, and fighting our battles, GOD covered his head, held him as in the hollow of his hand, kept him as the apple of his eye, and preserved his life through a long and dis­tressing war, and made him so great an instrument of securing to us our inestimable rights, liberties, and privileges, and of establishing us as an inde­pendent nation:—And also that he did preserve and capacitate him to be a rich blessing to these states in the civil department, as their first magistrate and supreme executive officer; and that under his wise and good administration, in conjunction with [Page 23] others in government, we could lead quiet and peaceable lives, and have been a growing, prosper­ous and happy people:—And, further, that GOD did protract his days almost to the allotted bound­ary of human life, to share in the enjoyment of the sweets of liberty and peace, and all the rich bles­sings he was so instrumental of procuring and es­tablishing for this land.

And? Shall not the death of this eminent person, after having served his generation by the will of GOD in various high and exalted stations, remind all in our national and state governments, who are raised up among their brethren to places of power and trust, whether in the legislative, judicial, execu­tive or military departments, that although they are called Gods, and all of them children of the Most High, yet they must die like men, and fall like the princes of the earth into the grave. May they remember their responsibility to GOD who is higher than the highest among men:—And con­sider that he standeth in the congregation of the mighty, and judgeth among the earthly Gods. May these thoughts engage them to be instant in the faithful discharge of the duties of their respec­tive stations, and improving their various talents, advantages and opportunities for bringing glory to [Page 24] GOD, and contributing each his just proportion to increase the sum of human felicity. May a double portion of that excellent spirit which dwelt in our WASHINGTON rest upon each of them, and all their successors in office, from age to age:— May they be actuated by a spirit of true and dis­interested patriotism, and unitedly and uniformly exert their power and influence to raise their coun­try to still higher degrees of prosperity and glory:— Thus shall they become ministers of GOD for good to the people; raise to themselves a monument of fame on earth, and be exalted to a crown of glory in heaven.

Finally, while we mourn the death of WASH­INGTON, and particularly because he loved our nation, and had done such great things for this peo­ple, let us all, of whatever age, rank or station, remember to imitate the virtues and deeds which have immortalized his name, according to our res­pective abilities and opportunities. Like him let us be animated with an ardent love to our country, and exhibit the most unremitted exertions to pro­mote and perpetuate its interest and prosperity. Let us remember his sage maxims in his farewell address, and practice upon them. They are these, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indis­pensable [Page 25] supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to sub­vert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with public and private felicity. Let it be simply asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if a sense of religious obligations desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained with­out religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure; reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclu­sion of religious principle." Could all this peo­ple, from the highest to the lowest, emulate the virtues of a WASHINGTON, and observe these his wise sayings, then GOD would delight to bless us, to build us up, and plant us, cause us to see the good of his chosen, to rejoice in the gladness of his nation, to glory with his inheritance:—The days of our mourning would cease, and our peace­ful, happy prosperous state should not, but with time itself, have an end.



An Elegy on the death of General WASHINGTON. Set to mu­sic by Capt. ABRAHAM WOOD, of Northborough, which be­ing printed, was sung on the 2nd of February, 1800, at North­borough, and many other places.

KNOW ye not that a great man hath fallen to day.
Yea we know it, yea we know it, yea we koow it.
Hold thou thy peace.
Mourn, mourn, mourn, mourn, O Americans for WASHINGTON's no more.
"Rest his dear sword beneath his head;
Round him his faithful Arms shall stand;
Fix his bright Ensigns on his bed,
The guards and honors of our land.
Fair liberty, in Sables drest,
Write his lov'd name upon his Urn,
WASHINGTON! The scourge of Tyrants past,
And awe of Princes yet unborn.
Glory with all her lamps shall burn,
And watch this warrior's sleeping clay,
'Till the last trumpet rouse his urn,
To aid the triumphs of the day.
Great Soul, we leave thee to thy rest;
Enjoy thy Jesus and thy GOD,
Till we, from bonds of clay releas'd,
Spring out and climb the shining road."
"Earthly cavern, to thy keeping
We commit our brother dust,
Keep it safely, softly sleeping,
Till the LORD demand thy trust.
Keep it safely, softly sleeping,
Till the LORD demand thy trust.
Sweetly sleep, dear Saint, in Jesus,
Thou with us shalt wake from death;
Hold he cannot, though he seize us;
[Page]We his power defy by faith.
Jesus, thy rich consolation,
To thy mourning people send:
May we all, with faith and patience,
Wait for our approaching end.
Keep from courage, vain or vaunted;
For our change our hearts prepare:
Give us confidence undaunted,
Cheerful hope, and godly joy.

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