President George Washington’s Farewell Address to the American People 1796

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President George Washington’s Farewell Address to the American People 1796

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable 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 to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded 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.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

FAITH’S FINAL AUTHORITY by Henry W. Frost; published 1920

TheGoodShepherdAlphaOmegaIt’s amazing to me how the Lord works, I can’t tell you how many times this sort of thing has happened to me. I found the following article because I went to look for a quote by Benjamin Harrison to make sure it was real, and to read it in its complete context. The book and only book brought up in the search contained the following article as titled above, and I as I began to read it, because that is what I do, it struck me once again that I had found something from history that could very well have been written for this day and time. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord leads me unawares to things like this, it is simply astounding to me how often this kind of thing happens. The Lord is always performing small miracles if we only open ourselves up to them, he’s also still doing big miracles if you have faith growing as a mustard seed.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

BEGIN: FAITH’S FINAL AUTHORITY by Henry W. Frost; published 1920, in Record of Christian Work, Volume 39 By Alexander McConnell, William Revell Moody, Arthur Percy Fitt

It is commonly acknowledged that these are days of intense and immense unsettlement. The foundation of things is being shaken and almost destroyed, and the cry is going up, “What can the righteous do?” The time has come when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, not knowing what the future will bring forth. What yesterday was certain, to-day is doubted and tomorrow will be disbelieved. The question is, What will remain? and, If there is certainty, where may it be found?

Moreover, this unsettlement and consequent disquiet exist amongst all classes of persons and in all the various relationships of life. Secular and religious periodicals indicate that the human mind is in a state of actual ferment, and this in respect to nearly every subject under the sun. Is monarchy or democracy the ideal government? Granting that democracy is the ideal, is it to be limited or unlimited? Is the proposed League of Nations from heaven and a gift from God, or is it from the pit and the work of Satan? Is the world getting better or worse? Is man immortal or only mortal? Is communion with the dead possible, and, if it is, is it lawful? Is Christ’s coming premillennial, postmillennial or nonmillennial? What part is the Christian to play in politics? Is he to abandon himself to them in the hope of saving the world, or is he to stand off from them as from a hopeless and contaminating task, giving himself to prayer and evangelization? What fellowship is a Christian to have with those who are not Christians, or with those who are, but are not true to Christ and His Word? What social pleasures are allowable? How is the Sabbath to be kept? What principles are to govern parents in the bringing up of their children? What is prayer? is it objective or simply subjective? What is the Word? is it inspired in whole, in part or not at all?  What is salvation? Is it to be obtained through service, suffering or sacrifice? And, if by sacrifice, by whose, one’s own or Christ’s? And who is Christ? Is He just Man or is He also God? If He is only Man, what can He do for men, or, if He is also God, what does He require of men?

And so the questions come in like a flood, from paper and magazine, from pew and pulpit, from quibbling minds and also from broken hearts. Some of us had thought that most of these matters had been settled long ago and that the issue of things had resolved itself simply into this: belief or unbelief. But we suddenly find that everything is once more in the melting pot; that serious-minded men and women are questioning realities: and that even Christians are demanding new solutions of old-time problems. We perceive, therefore, that every teacher of men is called upon to exercise infinite patience and to be ready to build again from the bottom upward; and, moreover, probably the teacher has problems of his own, which many years and much prayerful thinking have failed to solve. It is a time of mental and spiritual disorder in every sphere of life and in every part of the world.

And what makes the situation worse to many is that there seems to be no final court of appeal, especially in spiritual affairs, where cases may be argued and where just and final decisions may be obtained. There is a feeling that such a court should and must exist somewhere; but the question is, Where is it? So men conclude that herein is presented the greatest problem of all They declare that there are many voices in the world, each differing from the other, and no one knows which one is most Divine. Confusion is thus turned into what may only be described by Milton’s phrase:

“With ruin upon ruin, rout upon rout, Confusion worse confounded.”

And we have the spectacle thus of men stumbling forward in the dark, with their arms outstretched. They need a guiding hand, but they fail to find it. What, then, shall they do?

In this crisis, some say that we should turn to the pope. But if so, which one? Accepting Peter, for the moment, as the first pope, are we to test all the others by him, and if we are, what will be left of the others? But if we are not, which of the later-day popes are we to reckon as having spoken ex cathedra? This last is most perplexing, for there have been many popes, each one with a different dictum; twice over at the same time there have been two popes, each opposing the other; again and again a later-day pope has contradicted a former-day one, so that the benediction of the one has become the malediction of the other; and even the doctrine of papal infallibility, which one must accept if one turns to the Roman curia, was condemned as heresy by the popes themselves up to the time of Pius the Ninth, and by a large number of the cardinals even then; and to this day the theologians at Rome are not agreed as to what papal infallibility means. Tested by the necessary laws of harmony and unanimity we shall riot find final authority with the popes.

But others say that we should turn to the Church. If so, which Church? Shall it be the Roman, Greek, Armenian, Syrian, Nestorian, or Coptic? For, mark it, it will have to be a choice between these since they do not agree with one another even in things fundamental. Or, if we shall turn away from the historic churches to the reformed, where fundamental agreement is found, which Protestant Church shall it be? Shall it be the Church of England, Church of Scotland, Episcopal, Reformed Episcopal, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Methodist or the Salvation Army? For, mark it, again, while these agree in essentials, they vastly disagree in nonessentials, which with the conscientious man are often tremendously vital. Or shall we make another effort and turn to the apostolic, simple and devoted people, the Plymouth Brethren? But to which party among these shall we go; the close, open or loose; the Darbyites, Newtonites, Cecilites, Ravenites, or Grantites? for we must differentiate even here. Alas I it is manifest that we shall not find union and unanimity even in the Church, historic or reformed; and this is certain, that we shall never get the harmonious note of authority from Scriptural and spiritual discord.

But still others say that we should seek to hear the authoritative word outside of organized ecclesiasticism, in that great consensus of opinion expressed by individuals through the ages and brought into full expression in these last days of grace. But can we place this consensus? Do any two men interpret and formulate it alike? Is it possible from book or sermon to define and express it? Even where it may be partly vocalized, is it clear, comprehensive and final? For instance, was the consensus voice in apostolic days the same as it was in mediaeval? and was it then what it is now, since men have been to war and slain the great dragon? And, in passing, what was the great dragon? Was it Kaiserism or sin in the human heart? And, if it was sin, was this slain and is it dead? If, then, sin is not dead, who knows what the consensus has to say about it, in national, social and personal life?

Moreover, what is this consensus which is so much talked about? is it a person or thing? Is it living or dead? Is it truth or shibboleth? Is it Divine or human? If it proves at last to be just human, then evidently we are back where we were at, the beginning, and in this case we are in the grip of the greatest religious mastodon of the ages, the genus homo, that is, our fallible selves. And, clearly, no one can hope that final spiritual authority will come out of a condition such as this. In short, if we may not go farther than we have gone, we shall find no final authority anywhere, and hence, we shall remain of all men the most miserable.

It is a relief now to turn away from such uncertainties, which are but vagaries, to a nearer, surer and more soul-satisfying consideration. There is a Book [the Holy Bible] which claims to be divinely authoritative, and we may affirm that there are facts about it which substantiate this claim, among which are the following:

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First, it is an old Book, all of it old and some of it very old, and no neglect, nor hatred, nor persecution, has ever been able to destroy it; which suggests that God fashioned it and has preserved it.

Second, the Book has proved to be a regenerating, transforming and comforting influence, through thousands of years, with millions of persons and in behalf of individuals of diverse characteristics and needs; which indicates that it has had within itself a power beyond the human.

Third, the Book touches upon history, art, poetry and science, formulates theology and expands experimental religion, and these diverse elements have been presented by men of different times, countries, races, social position, political environment and national and personal aspiration, and all this without a false or conflicting statement within it, and with a perfect harmonization and development of truth: which implies the presence and power of the miraculous.

Fourth, the Book is prophetic in the major portion of it. and its foretellings have often anticipated thousands of years, multitudes of people and a multiplicity of events, including the largest possible national movements and also the smallest possible personal details, and its utterances have never yet failed nor been once discredited: which manifests elements of foreview and predetermination which are nothing less than Divine.

And. finally, it is beyond doubting that whatever measure of infallibility there has been amongst men has come from the Book, and that all past and present confusion has developed, not from it, but only from man’s failure to understand and interpret it aright; which proves beyond controversy that the Book is a light shining in a dark place, a voice which has a divinely certain sound, a sacred dictum, an ultimate dogma, the ex cathedra [with authority] utterance of the living God. Here, then, faith may rest, for here is final authority.

Here, however, the heart falters. For each of us rightly asks: Who am I that I should think myself to be better than other men? And what chance of success in interpreting the Bible may I hope for when men at large have so widely disagreed concerning it? This indeed is searching and solemnizing; it is even discouraging and disheartening, particularly since the very Book whose authority we recognize tells us plainly that to the end we shall see in part and, therefore, prophesy in part.

It is to be remembered, however, that this is not all of the truth and that what remains is most encouraging and enheartening. For these things are also facts. The Master promised that the Spirit through the Book should guide us into truth. We know that whatever of truth has been discovered has been found by searching the Book. It is evident that thousands of persons have been made both wise and godly by meditating on the things contained in the Book. It is true, even if we may not know everything in the Book, that we may know much of it and that this will ever be for our own and others’ profit. And, finally, it is manifest that the apprehension of truth is not so much in proportion to one’s knowledge of the Book as it is to one’s obedience to it. In view of prevailing Scriptural misinterpretation and spiritual confusion, it behooves us to walk through life with humble and contrite hearts. We must keep in mind that others besides ourselves have the fullness of the Spirit, and, instead of ourselves, may have the right interpretation of the revelation. And we are never to forget that finality of knowledge and teaching will never be found with us. since we, too, are only men. At the same time, there is every reason to be assured that it is our sacred privilege to come to the Bible as God’s infallible Word; to regard it is the Divine mandate in respect to human life and conduct; to study it as the one revelation which will illuminate the soul and transform the life; and to hold it as the decisive word in all controversy. By doing these things, in spite of all personal infirmity and even in these confused and confusing times, we shall increasingly discover that God’s truth is ever fixed and final and also that he who does the will of God will certainly know of the doctrine.

But to get the benefit of the Book, we need to deal practically with it When one is sick and goes to a medicine chest for a remedy, he does not take the first medicine which chances to come to hand, nor does he take all of the medicines which the cupboard may contain; he selects his remedy according to his need and for the time being shuts himself up to it. The Bible is a sacred medicine chest,’ and it holds in behalf of those spiritually sick, remedies for every disease.

God expects us, however, to show spiritual discernment, not to speak of common sense, in dealing with it. If we wish to know about earth, we do not want to study about heaven; and if we desire to know about heaven, we do not want to study about earth. Again, if we want to understand about spiritual experiences, we ought not to turn to prophecy; and if we want to understand prophecy, we ought not to study about spiritual experiences. We are called upon, first of all, to discover our spiritual need, and then to deal with that portion of the Word which has to do with this. If one is impure, let him consider the purity of Christ and His ability to displace fleshly sin. If one has a temper, let him consider the gentleness of Christ and His power to give love and patience. If one is uncertain about fundamental truth, let him study what the Word has to say about inspiration, the Deity of Christ, the Atonement, the Resurrection and other like subjects. If one is not interested in foreign missions, let him dwell upon the great commission of Christ, the acts of the Holy Spirit variously recorded and the missionary life of Paul. If one is doubtful about eschatology, let Him take up faithfully and fearlessly the teachings which concern future things and found his convictions on the revelation of the Bible rather than upon the comments of lesser books. In other words, we need to deal sanely with the Book in order that the Book may deal sanely with us. To do this is to become, in the best sense, a Bible Christian. And the man who is this is not shaken by every wind which blows and every wave which beats, but stands unmoved and unmovable through every storm. Mr. Moody made one text, “He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,” the guide of his life; and he became like his text. But he only got to know God’s will by close and prolonged study of God’s Word and this from the standpoint of his personal need.

A last word needs to be spoken. We must be careful not to divorce knowledge and action. It is terribly possible for us to know much and yet to put little into practice. One may approve of clothing and yet go unclothed. One may admire food and yet remain hungry. One may glory in the sun and yet walk in the dark. One may agree with truth and yet abide in falsehood. One may swear by the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible, and yet not know, or else forsake, its plainest precepts. Faith only overcomes the world by turning theory into practice, by first knowing and then doing. The heretics of life are not only those who depart from revealed truth, but also those who search it, understand it, praise it—and then neglect or disobey it. At every turn of life, in every crisis of life, for every purpose of life, we need to come to the Word as to God’s final utterance and faith’s full resting place. But having done this, we need, above all else, to set our hearts to keep that which is written therein. There was once on earth a Man Who was God’s great Dogmatist, [Jesus Christ] and He said: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures”; and, be it remembered, this Holy One added: “If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.”

In “The Monastery,” the White Lady speaks to Glendinning these quaint but most true words:

“Within that awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries!
Happiest they of human race,
To whom God has granted grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch and force the way;
And better had they ne’er been born
Who read to doubt or read to scorn!”

HISTORY BEFORE and DURING THE ERA OF THE FORMATION OF THE CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES

The ChristianPatriot2

THE ERA OF THE FORMATION OF THE UNITED STATES

I was extremely troubled writing this for it is not my intention to disparage any Christian, Religious Organization, Christianity, etc., It is simply my intention to give people a greater understanding of why this country was founded with the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, et.al. It is my intention to break through the misinformation, lies, misrepresentation of how, why and by whom [Christians] this great nation was founded.

Benjamin Franklin said to the French ministry in March, 1778, “He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.” He made a prediction to Condorcet and others, which to some of them became fatally true: “You perceive Liberty establish herself and flourish almost under your very eyes: I dare to predict that by and by you will be anxious to taste her blessings.”

See also: AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE by Samuel Adams Delivered to Congress Aug 1, 1776

When looking into what the founding fathers had in mind by separation of church and state, you have to take into consideration what they had known the church to be, and the history  they knew of it. The organized “Christian” religious institutions they knew, are not the organized Christianity that we know of today. Where they came from it had always been the State in control of the church, or the church in control of the state. Whether it be the Catholic church of Rome, the Protestant church of England, or the different Orthodoxy’s in other parts of Europe, including the Islamic states that existed.

In America they did not want the church to run the civil government, and they certainly did not want the civil government to run the church. While they wanted separation between the religious [i.e. moral] and the civil; the organization of the civil government was based on those ideas and principles they learned from the Bible and particularly those taught by Jesus Christ, and they wanted those principles to be taught and expected them to be a part of every child’s education. They felt the moral education of a child was, as important as, or more important than any other part of their education. They had no concept of a completely secular society, for it was something they had never known, nor could have known.

Whether it were pagan states before Christ came and Christianity [or what people knew to be Christianity] became widespread, they all incorporated their ‘religious’ beliefs into their civil and social affairs. There was no such thing as a secular civil society for them to base the new system of government on. Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s”, they followed that principle in the Constitution. They had seen far too often the abuse of the people, whether it was the church working through the state, or the state working through the church.

They had no intention however, the leaders that people elected would not be good, moral individuals, and would not rule in the fear of God. The idea of a secular society was as foreign to them as the idea of a theological government in America is to us. All of them believed in God, the majority of them believed themselves to be Christian in some form. The idea of an immoral government bureaucracy, or the people’s representatives in government being immoral were reprehensible to them, that is why they came to America to escape immorality in the Church (organized religion) and State (Government, in whatever form it was where they immigrated from).

These people came from area’s where they had been taught for centuries the “Divine Right of Kings” (1) to speak against the king was to speak against God himself, for the Monarch was the representative and under the direct protection of the Almighty, if they did anything against or even spoke against the Monarchy, Bishopric, or Popery, they were in fear of losing their souls and being sent to hell or purgatory. They were taught the fear of God in every corruptible sense, and could only gain absolution through a Priest, Cardinal, Bishop, i.e. the church. They were not taught to go straight to Jesus for repentance and the forgiveness of sin, as we know to do today, to have been taught thus would have taken power away from the ecclesiastical authorities, who taught the people the divine right of kings, even the nobility under the king were taught to believe in his (or her if it were a queen) absolute and divine right to be ruler.

A liberal education to them was not the “liberal” indoctrination that we see in government run schools today, liberal education meant an education in all things, including the Bible. Every college of higher learning they created, were started to among, the arts, sciences, etc., mainly teach the Bible and to further the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Where do you think the term “higher education” came from?

Religion provided an impetus for the creation of colonial colleges. As the First Great Awakening of the 1730’s to 1770’s initiated growth in a wider variety of Protestant churches, each denomination often desired its own seminary. Furthermore, each colony tended to favor a particular denomination and so the new colleges took on an importance for regional development as well. Presbyterians in New Jersey founded the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton). Harvard and Yale were originally Puritan. The College of William and Mary in Virginia maintained a strong Anglican orientation, reflecting that colony’s settlement by landed gentry from England. The Baptists, who had been expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled in Rhode Island, established their own college but in an unusual move did not require religious tests for admission. Other dissenting religious groups, such as the Methodists and Quakers, became enthusiastic college builders after facing hostility in many colleges.

The overwhelming evidence behind the [First Amendment] Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses reaches far back into American colonial history. In the colonies, dissident Christians, such as the Baptists and Quakers, suffered much persecution because their religious conscience ran contrary to the beliefs sanctioned by colonial governments, some of which were tied to religious institutions. After the Revolutionary War, religious dissenters were concerned that the federal government would charter or create a national church. In fact, their concern was more like dread. Justice Joseph Story pinpoints the origin and nature of the trepidation:

 “We are not to attribute this prohibition [on the federal government] of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity, (which none could hold in more reverence, than the framers of the Constitution,) but to a dread by the people of the influence of ecclesiastical power in matter of government; a dread, which their ancestors brought with them from the parent country, and which, unhappily for human infirmity, their own conduct, after their emigration, had not, in any just degree, tended to diminish…Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State, so far as such encouragement was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation” [Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States 2d ed, 1859]

The points already presented in this piece are perhaps sufficient to illustrate the principle announced in the word of Christ; and, although that principle is plain, and is readily accepted by the sober, common-sense thought of every man, yet through the selfish ambition of men, the world has been long in learning and accepting the truth of the lesson. The United States is the first and only government in history that is based on the principle established by Christ. In Article VI of the national Constitution, this nation says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” By an amendment making more certain the adoption of the principle, it declares in the first amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This first amendment was adopted in 1789, by the first Congress that ever met under the Constitution. In 1796 a treaty was made with Tripoli, in which it was declared (Article II) that “the government of the United Slates of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” This treaty was framed by an ex-Congregationalist clergyman, and was signed by President Washington. It was not out of disrespect to religion or Christianity that these clauses were placed in the Constitution, and that this one was inserted in that treaty. On the contrary, it was entirely on account of their respect for religion, and the Christian religion in particular, as being beyond the province of civil government, pertaining solely to the conscience, and resting entirely between the individual and God. It was because of this that this nation was constitutionally established according to the principle of Christ, demanding of men only that they render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and leaving them entirely free: to render to God that which is God’s, if they choose, as they choose, and when they choose; or, as expressed by Washington himself, in reply to an address upon the subject of religious legislation:—

“Every man who conducts himself as a good citizen, is accountable alone to God for his religious faith, and should be protected in worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.”

Father of American History: George Bancroft to this principle said, as embodied in the words of Christ, and in the American Constitution:—

“In the earliest States known to history, government and religion were one and indivisible. Each State had its special deity, and often these protectors, one after another, might be overthrown in battle, never to rise again. The Peloponnesian War grew out of a strife about an oracle. Rome, as it sometimes adopted into citizenship those whom it vanquished, introduced in like manner, and with good logic for that day, the worship of their gods. No one thought of vindicating religion for the conscience of the individual, till a voice in Judea, breaking day for the greatest epoch in the life of humanity, by establishing a pure spiritual and universal religion for all mankind, enjoined to render to Caesar only that which is Caesar’s. The rule was upheld during the infancy of the gospel for all men. No sooner was this religion adopted by the chief of the Roman Empire than it was shorn of its character of universality, and enthralled by an unholy connection with the unholy State; and so it continued till the new nation, —the least defiled with the barren scoffings of the eighteenth century the most general believer in Christianity of any people of that age, the chief heir of the Reformation in its purest forms,—when it came to establish a government for the United States, refused to treat faith as a matter to be regulated by a corporate body, or having a headship in a monarch or a State.

“Vindicating the right of individuality even in religion, and in religion above all, the new nation dared to set the example of accepting in its relations to God the principle first divinely ordained of God in Judea. It left the management of temporal things to the temporal power; but the American Constitution, in harmony with the people of the several States, withheld from the Federal Government the power to invade the home of reason, the citadel of conscience, the sanctuary of the soul; and not from indifference, but that the infinite Spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom and purity and power.”— History of the Formation of the Constitution, last chapter.

Thus the Constitution of the United States as it is, stands as the sole monument of all history, representing the principle which Christ established for earthly government. And under it, in liberty, civil and religious, in enlightenment, and in progress, this nation has deservedly stood as the beacon light of the world.

History Leading Up To The Foundation of The United States: The Protestant Reformation forms an epoch in history, second in importance only to that of the introduction of Christianity itself. It is the point of time at which the darkness of the Middle Ages begins to be lost in the arising light of religion and philosophy. With the details of this great event, so far as they relate to the agency of Luther and his associates in producing it, most of you are probably familiar. But it may not be uninteresting briefly to review the character of the times immediately preceding those of the great Reformer, to note the progress of events which so largely contributed to his success, and to pause for a few moments on the devotedness of some of the illustrious martyrs to the truths which he afterwards inculcated.

Until the commencement of the fourteenth century, the authority of the popes had continued to increase. Abroad, their legates dictated in the courts of the most imperious monarchs; at home, their interdicts (2) and excommunications appalled the boldest of the warlike and restless spirits who led the councils of that cluster of republics among which Italy was divided. It is true that even during the most flourishing period of papal domination, strenuous resistance was frequently made to its usurpation of temporal power; and it was not uncommon to find men arrayed against the church, yet yielding scrupulous obedience to its spiritual mandates; and armies endangering the life of the pope, who would have been happy, at almost any sacrifice, to have received his benediction.

So long as Rome continued to be its seat of government, the authority of the church was respected and supported by the people the most enlightened of Europe. But when, in the year 1305, through the influence of France, the papal court was removed to Avignon, in that kingdom, its Italian subjects soon learned to regard with contempt, and even hatred, a government which was effective only for their ruin.

The morals of the prelates had not certainly been distinguished by their purity, but in the luxurious indulgences of their new residence, the pontiffs themselves were accused of the grossest licentiousness. Prevented, to-a great extent, by the jealousy of France, from the exercise of power, they sought in sensuality forgetfulness of their degradation; and their example was followed by their whole court, until the town which they occupied became distinguished by the epithet of the Western Babylon. Their Italian states, in the mean while, were left to be the prey of legates, whose moral code was worthy of the source whence their authority was derived. Treachery and oppression provoked resistance, and success was followed by contempt, since men soon learn to despise that which they have no longer reason to fear.

But perhaps nothing so much contributed to destroy the illusion by which the authority of indulgence for the future could be obtained on human inventions have been substituted for the sublime truths of the Bible, when men began to be sensible of the absurdity of the dogmas which they had been taught, they rejected all religious systems, and infidelity succeeded to superstition,

The direct influence of learning was, it is true, necessarily confined to a comparatively small number; yet, among a people so singularly excitable, the increased freedom with which the tenets of the church were discussed would give a new direction to public opinion, and prepare men to reject the spiritual, as they had already discarded the temporal authority of the pope. If at home opinions prevailed so unfavourable to the influence of the holy see, abroad, sentiments of the same kind, added to the extortions of its ministers, were not less injurious to its interests. It was about the beginning of the fifteenth century that the in famous traffic in indulgences was commenced by one of the rival popes, as a means of recruiting his exhausted treasury. His emissaries caused tables to be erected by the side of the altars, where remission of sins for the past and the church had been sustained, as the great western schism, which was produced, in the year 1378, by the election of Clement VII. to supplant Urban VI., who, but a few months before, had received a majority of votes in the sacred college. While the two popes thundered forth their excommunications against each other, in doubt which to obey, men soon lost the habit of obedience. The rival pontiffs, unable to sustain their pretensions by their own resources, were protected by rival princes; and they who had arrogated to themselves the impious title of vicegerents of God upon earth, were become objects of the pity or derision of their subjects.

Such was the fallen condition of the church, at the commencement of the fifteenth century. Other causes contributed to promote inquiry, and the doubts which began to be entertained of the divine authority of the holy see were strengthened by the more accurate habits of reasoning which accompanied the revival of ancient literature. Italy was then the seat of all the learning of the age. Its commerce, which extended over the civilized portions of| three continents, did not more add to its wealth than to its intellectual resources. The fourteenth century had been illustrated by three of the greatest poets of whom the languages can boast. Ardent, excitable, and imaginative, the Italians had listened with rapture to the productions of Dante, of Petrarch, and of Boccacio; and the system of religion which was associated with such names became the more deeply seated in their affections. But the recovery of the writings of many of the ancients during this century, and the greater circulation which had been given to them by the introduction of paper, the manufacturing of which had recently been brought to considerable perfection, had begun to turn the attention of literary men to other studies more laborious, less exciting, and perhaps less enervating. The philosophers of antiquity, and the doctors of the church, were found to be sadly at variance; and, as frequently happens when human inventions have been substituted for the sublime truths of the Bible, when men began to be sensible of the absurdity of the dogmas which they had been taught, they rejected all religious systems, and infidelity succeeded to superstition.

The direct influence of learning was, it is true, necessarily confined to a comparatively small number; yet, among a people so singularly excitable, the increased freedom with which the tenets of the church were discussed, would give a new direction to public opinion, and prepare men to reject the spiritual, as they had already discarded the temporal authority of the pope. If at home opinions prevailed so unfavourable to the influence of the holy see, broad, sentiments of the same kind, added to the extortions of its ministers, were not less injurious to its interests. It was about the beginning of the fifteenth century that the infamous traffic in indulgences was commenced by one of the rival popes, as a means of recruiting his exhausted treasury. His emissaries caused tables to be erected by the side of the altars, where remission of sins for the past and indulgence for the future could be obtained on easy terms. The gates of purgatory were opened for a set price, and a suspension of the moral law, as well as of the more important canons of the church, was a gift in the power of a priest. It was in vain that the German clergy exclaimed against this prostitution of spiritual favours. Those who dared to oppose the authority of the pontiff’ were subjected to anathema,[Hatred; or a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church] until so intolerable had the evil become, that a reform of the church was demanded with one voice, by men of learning and piety in every part of Christendom. Alarmed at the increasing resistance which was opposed to their authority, and aware that concessions only could preserve them from the danger with which they were threatened, the popes,—for there were now three claimants of the chair of St. Peter,— agreed to submit to the decisions of a grand council to be held at Constance in the year 1414. The commencement of the reformation is unquestionably to be dated from this period; but it was not by the power of monarchs nor the decrees of councils that this great event was to he produced. The people who, of all others, had enjoyed the advantages of learning, but in whom infidelity had wrought a heartless and selfish indifference to the cause of truth, were not to be the instruments of that reform to which they had given the impulse. From England the voice was heard, which, echoed back from Bohemia, as yet scarcely emerging from the darkness of ignorance, was to unite the prince and the peasant in a common effort to restore the purity of that faith on which their common hopes relied.

WYCKLIFFE. To one who cursorily reviews the moral condition of Europe, during the early part of the fourteenth century, it presents a picture of gloom scarcely relieved by a single virtue. In politics, probity and good faith were unknown; in private life, vice was encouraged by the example of the priesthood, and licensed by the church. Laws were no longer a security against rapine [the violent seizure of someone’s property]; and, in a word, the social compact was, to a great extent, at least in the south of Europe, virtually dissolved, since it had ceased to be efficient for any purpose of self-preservation. Whatever hope of reform might have been entertained from the inculcation of a purer system of religion, seemed to have been blasted, when the Albigenses(3) perished beneath the swords of the army of the cross, and the Vaudois(4) were driven from their last holds among the Alps. But the darkness which covered Europe when the light of these ancient churches was extinguished, was the precursor of a more enlightened age, as the deeper gloom which succeeds to the false dawn in the eastern deserts, is hailed as the herald of returning day. We have seen that, during this century, the oppressive government of the legates, the removal of the papal court, the schism in the church, and, above all, the restoration of ancient learning, had loosened the ties by which the Italians were connected with the holy see. In England, other causes tended to produce the same results. The orders of Dominican and Franciscan monks had been founded in the twelfth century, when the progress of heresy had endangered the safety of the church; and so successful had been their labours, that it became the favourite policy of the popes to cherish these institutions. Renouncing all worldly ambition, these men, at first, refused to possess any property, and relied for their support upon the alms of devotees. Barefooted, and in the meanest attire, they were to be found in every part of Christendom; preaching in the streets and highways, performing the office of confessors, (5) encouraging the faithful, absolving the guilty, and enforcing upon all the necessity of purifying the land from the taint of heresy. Their eloquence gave them influence; their numbers rapidly increased; and they soon found it convenient to possess, and easy to acquire ample revenues. Accomplished in all the arts by which wealth is to be obtained at the expense of ignorance, they secured to their orders the most lucrative benefices, and the control of the most popular seminaries. In England, the great increase of the friars, and the loss of that wealth of which they drained the kingdom, began to be felt as a serious evil. By the settled, or secular clergy, especially, they were looked upon with great jealousy, since they felt that their own influence was likely to be lost in the success of these rapacious intruders. It was in the disputes which arose between the friars and the clergy that Wyckliffe first distinguished himself; and the discussion of these questions led to that investigation of the doctrines of the church, which secured to him the title of the father of the reformation.

John de Wyckliffe was born about the year 1324. He was educated at Oxford, and seems to have been early distinguished by his skill in scholastic exercises, and by his intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures—at that time no ordinary accomplishment, and which afterwards acquired for him the title of  “the gospel doctor.” In the year 1345, the plague, commencing its ravages in Tartary, spread over a large part of Asia and Europe, depopulated many cities, and, according to the exaggerated estimate of contemporary writers, destroyed during the two years of its continuance, one half of the human race. It was in the midst of this scene of desolation that the youthful reformer, impressed with the conviction that the corruption of the age had been the procuring cause of so dreadful a visitation, composed his first work, in which he censured, in no measured terms, the profligacy of the priesthood. In his subsequent attacks upon the mendicant friars, he was not unsupported by the clergy; and the acuteness which he displayed in this discussion, attracting the attention of the government, an opportunity was soon afforded him of promulgating his opinions under its sanction. Edward III, was, at that time, engaged in a dispute with the pope, whose claim to an annual stipend, as an acknowledgement of fealty to the holy see, was resisted by this haughty monarch. Wyckliffe was called upon to defend the measures of the king, and his labours were rewarded by appointing him to fill the chair of divinity at Oxford and by other preferments.[advancements or promotions in rank] Subsequently, he was sent by the king to confer with the commissioner of the pope, on the points in dispute between the two governments; and the more intimate acquaintance with the vices of the Roman court, which he thus acquired, confirmed him in the determination to attempt a reform of the church. He now boldly advocated the sufficiency of the Scriptures, denied the temporal authority of the pope, and proclaimed him to be antichrist. His preaching, eloquent, nervous, and full of fervour, soon procured him converts; and his disciples, imitating the humility of the friars, traversed the kingdom, clothed in the meanest attire, preaching the doctrines of the Bible, and obeying the injunctions of their master in dispensing charity to the indigent and consolation to the unfortunate. His success alarmed the pope, and orders were sent to have him arrested as a heretic. More than once, Wycklifle obeyed the summons, which cited him to answer for his doctrines before his superiors; and, at each appearance, his life would have been endangered, had he not been protected by the government and by some of the more powerful barons, influenced rather by their hostility to the pontiff than by conviction of the truths taught by the reformer. Emboldened by success, he at length ventured to attack the doctrine of transubstantiation. Here, however, he was no longer supported. The clergy, who were opposed to the friars; and the government, who resisted papal encroachments, had no interest in the discussion of questions of pure theology; and Wyckliffe, abandoned by the university and the parliament, was advised, by his most powerful protectors, to submit, on these points, to the church. When summoned to answer for his doctrines on this subject, he offered explanations, which have subjected him to the charge of recantation on the one hand, and of confirmed heresy on the other. Whatever constructions were put upon his defence, the judges seem to have deemed it most prudent to dismiss him; and he continued to teach, without molestation, the great truths of the reformation. To his success in these efforts, nothing so much contributed, and nothing has given so great an elevation to the fame of Wyckliffe, as his translation of the Old and New Testaments into English. There is little doubt that this was the first version of the entire Bible that had been made into our language, and the eagerness with which it was sought for is said to have been very great; for, “even then,” to quote the homely metaphor of the venerable Fuller, ” midnight being past, some early risers began to strike fire and enlighten themselves, by the Scriptures.” Retiring from the university, Wyckliffe continued assiduously to propagate his opinions, until he was seized with palsy, and died, while engaged in an act of devotion, and surrounded by his parishioners, in the sixtieth year of his j age. Of the private character of the reformer, I nothing is known, except from his own writings and from tradition. His enemies accused him of little more than heresy. His works show him to have possessed exemplary piety, to have been ardent and unceasing in his devotions; and tradition records that he sedulously practised that charity which he so warmly recommends. Of his doctrines, it is sufficient to say, that they were substantially those of Luther; not, indeed, unmixed with the superstitions which were so intimately connected with the religion of that age, but, in many points, surprisingly free from errors, which, even now, find numerous advocates. It is indeed a little singular, to find a confessor in the fourteenth century, and in the court of the third Edward, asserting the inconsistency of war with Christianity; yet this doctrine Wyckliffe inculcated; and, in defending his sentiments against the argument that force was necessary for self-preservation, he expressed his reliance upon the providence of the Almighty,] in language scarcely differing from that of Penn and Barclay. In relation to tithes and the efficacy of lay preaching, his opinions approximate equally to our own. He drew, indeed, his sentiments on these subjects, from the source whence our forefathers obtained theirs; and, like them, he was content to yield unqualified submission to the doctrines of the Bible. Signed P. Q.

FOOTNOTES:
1      The doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings was aimed at instilling obedience by explaining why all social ranks were religiously and morally obliged to obey their government. It is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including (in the view of some, especially in Protestant countries) the Church. According to this doctrine, since only God can judge an unjust king, the king can do no wrong. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute sacrilegious act.

The remoter origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king, just as God had given spiritual power and authority to the Church, centering on the Pope. The immediate author of the theory was Jean Bodin, who based it on the interpretation of Roman law. With the rise of nation-states and the Protestant Reformation, the theory of divine right justified the king’s absolute authority in both political and spiritual matters. The theory came to the fore in England under the reign of James I of England (1603–1625, also James VI of Scotland 1567–1625). Louis XIV of France (1643–1715), though Catholic, strongly promoted the theory as well.

The theory of divine right was abandoned in England during the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89. The American and French revolutions of the late eighteenth century further weakened the theory’s appeal, and by the early twentieth century, it had been virtually abandoned.
Such doctrines are, in the English-speaking world, largely associated with the House of Tudor and the early House of Stuart in Britain and the theology of the Caroline divines who held their tenure at the pleasure of James I of England (VI of Scotland), Charles I and Charles II.

The Scots textbooks of the divine right of kings were written in 1597-98 by James VI of Scotland before his accession to the English throne. His Basilikon Doron, a manual on the duties of a king, was written to edify his four-year-old son Henry Frederick, who died young. According to the text, a good king “acknowledgeth himself ordained for his people, having received from the god a burden of government, whereof he must be countable”. The idea of the divine right to rule has appeared in many cultures Eastern and Western spanning all the way back to the first god king Gilgamesh.

2              By the sentence of interdict, public worship and all the other rites of the church were either suspended altogether, or they were only suffered to be partially performed in the open air, “Even now,” says Southey, “it may be understood what an effect must have been produced upon the feelings of the people, when all the rites of a church, whose policy it was to blend its institutions with the whole business of private life, were suddenly suspended; no bell heard, no taper lighted, no service performed, no church open—only baptism was permitted, and confession and the sacrament for the dying. The dead were either interred in unhallowed ground, without the presence of a priest or any religious ceremony, or they were kept unburied till the infliction which affected every family in its tenderest and holiest feelings should be removed. Some little mitigation was allowed, lest human nature should have rebelled against so intolerable a tyranny. The people therefore were called to prayer and sermon on the Sunday in the church-yards, and marriages were performed at the church door.” Book of the Church, pg. 262.

3             From the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online: (From Albi, Latin Albiga, the present capital of the Department of Tarn).

A neo-Manichæan sect that flourished in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The name Albigenses, given them by the Council of Tours (1163) prevailed towards the end of the twelfth century and was for a long time applied to all the heretics of the south of France. They were also called Catharists (katharos, pure), though in reality they were only a branch of the Catharistic movement. The rise and spread of the new doctrine in southern France was favoured by various circumstances, among which may be mentioned: the fascination exercised by the readily-grasped dualistic principle; the remnant of Jewish and Mohammedan doctrinal elements; the wealth, leisure, and imaginative mind of the inhabitants of Languedoc; their contempt for the Catholic clergy, caused by the ignorance and the worldly, too frequently scandalous, lives of the latter; the protection of an overwhelming majority of the nobility, and the intimate local blending of national aspirations and religious sentiment.

Principles:
Doctrinal: The Albigenses asserted the co-existence of two mutually opposed principles, one good, the other evil. The former is the creator of the spiritual, the latter of the material world. The bad principle is the source of all evil; natural phenomena, either ordinary like the growth of plants, or extraordinary as earthquakes, likewise moral disorders (war), must be attributed to him. He created the human body and is the author of sin, which springs from matter and not from the spirit. The Old Testament must be either partly or entirely ascribed to him; whereas the New Testament is the revelation of the beneficent God. The latter is the creator of human souls, which the bad principle imprisoned in material bodies after he had deceived them into leaving the kingdom of light. This earth is a place of punishment, the only hell that exists for the human soul. Punishment, however, is not everlasting; for all souls, being Divine in nature, must eventually be liberated. To accomplish this deliverance God sent upon earth Jesus Christ, who, although very perfect, like the Holy Ghost, is still a mere creature. The Redeemer could not take on a genuine human body, because he would thereby have come under the control of the evil principle. His body was, therefore, of celestial essence, and with it He penetrated the ear of Mary. It was only apparently that He was born from her and only apparently that He suffered. His redemption was not operative, but solely instructive. To enjoy its benefits, one must become a member of the Church of Christ (the Albigenses). Here below, it is not the Catholic sacraments but the peculiar ceremony of the Albigenses known as the consolamentum, or “consolation,” that purifies the soul from all sin and ensures its immediate return to heaven. The resurrection of the body will not take place, since by its nature all flesh is evil.

Moral: The dualism of the Albigenses was also the basis of their moral teaching. Man, they taught, is a living contradiction. Hence, the liberation of the soul from its captivity in the body is the true end of our being. To attain this, suicide is commendable; it was customary among them in the form of the endura (starvation). The extinction of bodily life on the largest scale consistent with human existence is also a perfect aim. As generation propagates the slavery of the soul to the body, perpetual chastity should be practiced. Matrimonial intercourse is unlawful; concubinage, being of a less permanent nature, is preferable to marriage. Abandonment of his wife by the husband, or vice versa, is desirable. Generation was abhorred by the Albigenses even in the animal kingdom. Consequently, abstention from all animal food, except fish, was enjoined. Their belief in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, the result of their logical rejection of purgatory, furnishes another explanation for the same abstinence. To this practice they added long and rigorous fasts. The necessity of absolute fidelity to the sect was strongly inculcated. War and capital punishment were absolutely condemned.

4             From the Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Waldenses, also spelled Valdenses, French Vaudois, Italian Valdesi,  members of a Christian movement that originated in 12th-century France, the devotees of which sought to follow Christ in poverty and simplicity. In modern times the name has been applied to members of a Protestant church (centred on the Franco-Italian border) that formed when remnants of the earlier movement became Swiss Protestant Reformers.

Early Roman Catholic and Waldensian sources are few and unreliable, and little is known with certainty about the reputed founder, Valdes (also called Peter Waldo, or Valdo). As a layman, Valdes preached in Lyon (1170–76), but ecclesiastical authorities were disturbed by his lack of theological training and by his use of a non-Latin version of the Bible. Valdes attended the third Lateran Council (1179) in Rome and was confirmed in his vow of poverty by Pope Alexander III. Probably during this council Valdes made his Profession of Faith (which still survives); it is a statement of orthodox beliefs such as accused heretics were required to sign. Valdes, however, did not receive the ecclesiastical recognition that he sought. Undeterred, he and his followers (Pauperes: “Poor”) continued to preach; the archbishop of Lyon condemned him, and Pope Lucius III placed the Waldenses under ban with his bull Ad Abolendam (1184), issued during the Synod of Verona.

Thereafter, the Waldenses departed from the teaching of the Roman Catholic church by rejecting some of the seven sacraments and the notion of purgatory. Their views were based on a simplified biblicism, moral rigour, and criticism of abuses in the contemporary church. Their movement, often joined to and influenced by other sects, spread rapidly to Spain, northern France, Flanders, Germany, and southern Italy and even reached Poland and Hungary. Rome responded vigorously, turning from excommunication to active persecution and execution. Though the Waldenses confessed regularly, celebrated communion once a year, fasted, and preached poverty, they repudiated such Roman practices as prayers for the dead and the veneration of saints, and they refused to recognize secular courts because they did not believe in taking oaths.

In the early 13th century a number of Waldenses returned to orthodoxy; by the end of the century persecution had virtually eliminated the sect in some areas, and for safety the survivors abandoned their distinctive dress. By the end of the 15th century they were confined mostly to the French and Italian valleys of the Cottian Alps.

A second period in their history began when the French reformer Guillaume Farel introduced Reformation theology to the Waldensian ministers (barbes) in 1526. The Waldenses raised questions concerning the number of sacraments, the relationship between free will and predestination, and the problem of reconciling justification by faith with the scriptural emphasis on the necessity of good works. At a conference at Cianforan in 1532 most Waldenses accepted secular law courts and celibacy for their barbes and agreed to accept only two sacraments (baptism and Holy Communion) and the doctrine of predestination as presented by the Protestants in attendance. By further adapting themselves to Genevan forms of worship and church organization, they became in effect a Swiss Protestant church. Years of persecution continued, however, before they received full civil rights in 1848.

5            A priest who hears confessions and sometimes acts as a spiritual counselor.

Recommended reading for further information on this subject and one of the sources used, surprisingly from a recent author; “The Historical Test: The Judicial Standard Emerging From Colonial Political And Religious History To Be Applied To Constitutional Challenges Based On The Religion Clauses Of The First Amendment” by Tayra de la Caridad Antolick © May 2002

Other Sources: The Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online:
The Rights of the People: Or, Civil Government and Religion By Alonzo Trévier Jones; 1895
The Friend: A Religious and Literary Journal, Volume 2; 1828
History of the United States of America, From the Discovery of the Continent By George Bancroft; 1875

Christian Condescension: Reminds Me of the Teachings of My Youth

I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, joined by the bond of the covenant #quote Roger Sherman, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution

“I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, joined by the bond of the covenant” ~ Roger Sherman, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution

True Story from my life: Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover: In memory of a great man I once knew
 

 “Truth, indeed, came once into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape, most glorious to look upon; but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep then strait arose a wicked race of Deceivers, who, as that story goes of that wicked Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear imitating the careful search which Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering up every limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do till her Master’s second coming. He shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.” ~ John Milton in his Areopagitica 1644

NOTE: Condescension in this instance is not speaking of a patronizing, rude tone or behavior; it means voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior. In other words, showing charity and humility to those who you think are or are in fact inferior to you, just as Jesus washed the feet of those who were inferior to him.

Originally Titled “Christian Condescension” in The Friend, A Religious and Literary Journal from “The Free Thinker” section dated July 25, 1829 [Friends refers to the original Quakers]

The importance of maintaining brotherly love, and that respect which is due to the sentiments of each other, is impressively inculcated in the subsequent remarks of Stephen Crisp, which contain a beautiful description of a religious society, properly organized under the government and direction of the Head of the church [Jesus Christ]. We have always professed, that the sensible guidance of the holy Spirit was essential to the performance of every act, characterized by the solemn title of religious duty. The Great Shepherd putteth forth his own sheep, and goeth before them. They know his voice, and they follow him, and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. How safe to be thus led by him: and to experience this state of safety, we must not only know, but faithfully obey his voice. Can there be any jar or confusion amongst a people thus disciplined and thus obedient? Every one would keep his rank in righteousness, and being subject to him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, nothing would be lacking to the complete performance of his divine will. Heavenly harmony and unity would naturally subsist amongst these followers of the Prince of Peace. Ephraim would not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim. The strong would cheerfully bear the burdens of the weak, and the younger and inexperienced would treat with due deference the judgment of their elders in the truth. Humility and condescension would be learned in this school, and while we were engaged in doing the Lord’s work, we should be promoting our own advancement in the way of salvation. We cannot but hope, however discouraging the signs of the times may often appear, that the Lord is at work in the hearts of many, to prepare them, like the stones of the temple, to be built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer acceptable sacrifices to him through Jesus Christ. May we all give ourselves up to his divine government, and he will not fail to perfect the work to the praise and glory of his grace, and to the comfort and enlargement of his church. Signed M.

“And all you, dear friends, upon whom the Lord hath laid a care for his honour, and for the prosperity of the truth, and gathered you into the good order of the gospel, to meet together to manage the affairs thereof; take heed that ye have a single eye to the Lord; to do the Lord’s business in the leadings of his spirit, which is but one, and brings all that are given up to be governed by it, to be of one mind and heart, at least, in the general purpose and service of those meetings. Although, through the diversity of exercises, and the several degrees of growth among the brethren, every one may not see or understand alike in every matter, at the first propounding of it; yet this makes no breach of the unity, nor hinders the brotherly kindness, but puts you often upon an exercise and an inward travailing, to feel the pure, peaceable wisdom that is from above, to open among you, and every one’s ear is open to it, in whomsoever it speaks; and thereby a sense of life is given in the meeting, to which all that are of a simple and tender mind, join and agree. But if any among you be contrary minded in the management of some outward affair, relating to the truth, this doth not presently break the unity that ye have in Christ, nor should weaken the brotherly love, so long as he keeps waiting for an understanding from God, to be gathered into the same sense with you, and walks with you according to the law of charity. Such an one ought to be borne with and cherished, and the supplications of your souls will go up to God for him, that God may reveal it to him, if it be his will, that so no difference may be in understanding, so far as is necessary for the good of the church, no more than there is in matters of faith and obedience to God. For, my friends, it is not absolute necessity that every member of the church should have the same measure of understanding in all things; for then where were the duty of the strong bearing with the weak? then where were the brother of low degree? where would be any submitting to them that are set over others in the Lord? which all tend to the preserving unity in the church, notwithstanding the different measures and different growths of the members thereof. For as the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, so are the spirits of all that are kept in a true subjection to the spirit of life in themselves, kept in the same subjection to the sense of life given by the same spirit in the church; and by this means we come to know the one Master, even Christ, and have no room for other masters, in the matter of our obedience to God. And while every one keeps in this true subjection’, the sweet concord is known, and the oil is not only upon Aaron’s head, but it reacheth the skirts of his garment also; and things are kept sweet and savoury, and ye love one another, from the greatest to the least in sincerity, and as the apostle saith without dissimulation. And this love excludes all whisperings of evil things, all backbiting, grudgings and murmurings, and keeps Friends’ minds clear one toward another, waiting for every opportunity to do each other good and to preserve each other’s reputation, and their hearts are comforted at the sight of one another. And in all their affairs, both relating to the church and to the world, they will be watchful over their own spirits, and “keep in the Lord’s power, over that nature and ground in themselves, that would be apt to take an offence, or construe any word or action, to a worse sense than the simplicity thereof, or the intention of the other concerned will allow of.”

 “And whereas it may often fall out, that among a great many, some may have a different apprehension of a matter from the rest of their brethren, especially in outward or temporal things, there ought to .-be a Christian liberty, maintained for such to express their sense, with freedom of mind, or else they will go away burdened; whereas if they speak their minds freely, and a friendly and Christian conference be admitted thereupon, they may be eased, and oftentimes the different apprehension of such a one comes to be wholly removed, and his understanding opened to see as the rest see; for the danger in society doth not lie so much in this, that some few may have a differing apprehension in some things from the general sense, as it doth in this; namely, when such that so differ, do suffer themselves to be led out of the bond of charity, and labour to impose their private sense upon the rest of their brethren, and to be offended and angry if it be not received; this is the seed of sedition and strife that hath grown up in too many to their own hurt.

“And therefore, my dear friends, beware of it, and seek not to drive a matter on in fierceness or in anger, nor to take offence into your minds at any time, because what seems to be clear to you is not presently received; but let all things in the church be propounded with an awful reverence of Him that is the head and life of it, who hath said, ‘where two or three are met in my name, I will be in the midst of them;’ and so he is, and may befelt by all who keep in his spirit.”

NOTE (~CJD): Those who question my religion, I am neither catholic, nor protestant, nor charismatic, Mormon, LDS, Mennonites, Quakers, etc. The group of churches I grew up in you probably, have never heard of. I was raised in a non-denominational group of churches originally called “School of the prophets” by outsiders (not to be confused with the LDS church) The “School of the Prophets” was a designation given by outside ministers who came visiting at the old campground from whence the movement began, if my memory serves me well.. Sometime in the early 1900’s they began to be known simply as “the Body of Christ”.

For those that say forget religion but give me Jesus; Paul said in Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

“If men are so wicked with religion,” said Benjamin Franklin to one who was about publishing an argument against the providence of God, “what would they be without it?” The advice Franklin gave in this instance was characteristic of the man. “He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.”

I was raised to be skeptical of organized religion, I cannot say I was raised to be against it, for the reason exact reason Paul says here, “notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” for that is the only way a lot of people learn about Jesus. Therefore I will not say I’m against it, nor would I say I hate it. I hate what some have done in Jesus’ name, but you have that even outside of organized religion, besides that there are good people in all religions which is why the Bible says in another passage there are God’s people in all “Come out of her my people”

Revelations 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Jesus has people in organized religion, while I condemn the things some do in organized religion, I do not condemn it all as bad. I grew up in, and was taught among people who are into the Pure Religion of Jesus Christ just as;

James said in chapter 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Therefore I will not condemn religion for there are God’s people in all and (paraphrased here) if you offend the least of these, it is better you had a millstone around your neck and cast into the sea.

Hence I am careful, lest I cause a stumbling block to those who might be saved having been taught by those whom (2 Timothy 3:)5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I am also careful not to condemn any one group, for Hebrews 13: says 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

From studying history, I would say they [the Body of Christ] are most likely the descendents of Quakers from way back, I know many in my family at the founding of the United States and before, were Quakers, I’m sure they must have some connection to those once known as “the Jerks” because of the manifestation of the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) in their services.

This ministry was built on what we refer to as the “threshing floor” [which refers to ministers having discussions and sometimes arguments on the Truth in the Word, separating the Truth from the interpretation of man or wheat from the chaff] and is solely dedicated to the truth in the Word and the True Gospel of Christ, they have never sought fame, notoriety, nor fortune. They have simply tried to live simple Christian lives and do only those things which are pleasing to God and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

The ministers are not voted for, nor chosen by anyone other than Jesus, no one signs anything to join, if Jesus adds you, there you are. They are most closely associated with Pentecostal, or at least identified as such by those who do not know them. The churches do not have a program other than following the Spirit of God, many times you will hear them say “watch the spirit and where it leads”. Anyone can speak at any time, sing songs, whatever the spirit of God (Holy Ghost) leads any one to do.

It is orderly however, because the people themselves are orderly, that is unless there is an out pouring of the Holy Ghost, then things can get a little exciting. It’s all good and the people are among the best I have ever known in my life.

We are more into restoring the church like it was in the Early Reign church, and living life without sin, like Jesus taught people to do in the first place. And yes, we believe that you can overcome sin, in this life and grow into the perfect knowledge and image of Christ.

For those who do not agree with my views and those I post quotes of, about Christianity, or who think I have never known anything else. I have investigated it, and I came to my conclusions with reason and the help of the Lord: All the quotes, etc., I share, are things that I agree with because I have seen them in my own life.

Like many in my generation, in my teens I turned from the Lord even though I grew up with, and around the most Christ-like people I have ever known in my life, and as a child, I do not believe, I could have had a greater love for the Lord. However, I had no real understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, for all the hours I had set listening to ministers, I never really understood, because one, I was just loving Jesus and two, I was completely naive, what proverbs refers to in one instance “a simple one”

I strayed and due to various things in my life, questioned even the very existence of Jesus, it was by his grace and mercy that I finally began to understand, after he removed the scales from my eyes and heart.

I won’t go into how he did this, but let me say, I was the mule that he had to use the 2×4 between the eyes on to get my attention. After using that 2×4 however, he let me see, and showed me the Greatest Love I have ever felt, or known in my life, and since that time (age mid-late 20’s) I have lived for the sole purpose of loving and serving him, and giving others the understanding and wisdom he has allowed me to see, through looking back at my life.

See, I have a great memory and can go through my life, step by step in detail, and see the numerous and various ways he tried to reach out to me, when I failed miserably to see his hand in my life, which is why I have an affinity for the song “He was there all the time”.

Let me say for all the bad I did, he in his grace and mercy, I believe and hope, has made something he can use to help others along life’s way. If not helpful to others, it is because of my failures and not his.

TRAINING AND EDUCATING CHILDREN By John Locke Published 1751

JohnLockeQuotesCuriousityTRAINING AND EDUCATING CHILDREN; Excerpt from The Works of John Locke by John Locke; Fifth Edition published 1751

[NOTE: I would encourage every parent to get out of doors with their children while they are growing, get away from the city, out in the mountains, woods, the seaside, the lake, river, prairie. Get them out among the other creatures, God’s creation; the Handmaiden of the Lord (i.e. Nature) Let their curiosity and yours never die, for there are always hidden treasures that God only reveals to eyes of those who are diligent in their search.]

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115. Children should be trained to be courageous. Keep children from frights of all kinds when they are young. . . . By gentle degrees accustom them to things they are too much afraid of. . . . Inuring children gently to suffer some degrees of pain without shrinking is a way to gain firmness to their minds.]

116. Cruelty.—One thing I have frequently observed in children, that when they have got possession of any poor creature, they are apt to use it ill; they often torment and treat very roughly young birds, butterflies, and such other poor animals which fall into their hands, and that with a seeming kind of pleasure. This, I think, should be watched in them; and if they incline to any such cruelty, they should be taught the contrary usage; for the custom of tormenting and killing of beasts will, by degrees, harden their minds even towards men; and they who delight in the suffering and destruction of inferior creatures, will not be apt to be very compassionate or benign to those of their own kind. Our practice takes notice of this, in the exclusion of butchers from juries of life and death. Children should from the beginning be bred up in an abhorrence of killing or tormenting any living creature, and be taught not to spoil or destroy anything, unless it be for the preservation or advantage of some other that is nobler. And truly, if the preservation of all mankind, as much as in him lies, were every one’s persuasion, as indeed it is every one’s duty, and the true principle to regulate our religion, politics, and morality by, the world would be much quieter and better natured than it is. But to return to our present business; I cannot but commend both the kindness and prudence of a mother I knew, who was want always to indulge her daughters, when any of them desired dogs, squirrels, birds, or any such things, as young girls use[i.e., are accustomed] to be delighted with: but then, when they had them, they must be sure to keep them well, and look diligently after them, that they wanted nothing, or were not ill used; for, if they were negligent in their care of them, it was counted a great fault, which often forfeited their possession; or at least they failed not to be rebuked for it, whereby they were early taught diligence and good-nature. And, indeed, I think people should be accustomed from their cradles to be tender to all sensible creatures, and to spoil or waste nothing at all. This delight they take in doing of mischief, whereby I mean spoiling of anything to no urpose, but more especially the pleasure they take to put any thing in pain that is capable of it, I cannot persuade myself to be any other than a foreign and introduced disposition, a habit borrowed from custom and conversation. People teach children to strike, and laugh when they hurt, or see harm come to others; and they have the examples of most about them to confirm them in it. All the entertainments of talk and history is of nothing almost but fighting and killing; and the honour and renown that is bestowed on conquerors (who for the most part are but the great butchers of mankind), farther mislead growing youths, who by this means come to think slaughter the laudable business of mankind, and the most heroic of virtues. This custom plants unnatural appetites and reconciles us to that which it has laid in the way to honour. Thus, by fashion and opinion, that comes to be a pleasure, which in itself neither is, nor can be any. This ought carefully to be watched, and early remedied, so as to settle and cherish the contrary and more natural temper of benignity and compassion in the room of it; but still by the same gentle methods, which are to be applied to the other two faults before mentioned. But pray remember that the mischiefs or harms that come by play, inadvertency, or ignorance, and were not known to be harms, or designed for mischief’s sake, though they may perhaps be sometimes of considerable damage, yet are not at all, or but very gently, to be taken notice of. For this, I think, I cannot too often inculcate, that whatever miscarriage a child is guilty of, and whatever be the consequence of it, the thing to be regarded in taking notice of it, is only what root it springs from, and what habit it is like to establish; and to that the correction ought to be directed, and the child not to suffer any punishment for any harm which may have come by his play or inadvertency. The faults to be amended lie in the mind; and if they are such as either age will cure, or no ill habits will follow from, the present action, whatever displeasing circumstances it may have, is to be passed by without any animadversion.

[117. Children must treat [others] with civility. Children should not be suffered to lose the consideration of human nature in the shufflings of outward conditions.]

118. Curiosity.—Curiosity in children is but an appetite after knowledge, and therefore ought to be encouraged in them, not only as a good sign, but as the great instrument nature has provided to remove that ignorance they were born with, and which, without this busy inquisitiveness, will make them dull and useless creatures. The ways to encourage it, and keep it active and vigorous, are, I suppose, these following:

1. Not to check or discountenance any inquiries he shall make, nor suffer them to be laughed at; but to answer all his questions, and explain the matters he desires to know, so as to make them as much intelligible to him as suits the capacity of his age and knowledge. But confound not his understanding with explications or notions that are above it, or with the variety or number of things that are not to his present purpose. Mark what ’tis his mind aims at in the question, and not what words he expresses it in: and, when you have informed and satisfied him in that, you shall see how his thoughts will proceed on to other things, and how by fit answers to his inquiries he may be led on farther than perhaps you could imagine. For knowledge to the understanding is acceptable as light to the eyes: [“For knowledge is grateful to the understanding as light to the eyes “—in later editions.] and children are pleased and delighted with it exceedingly, especially if they see that their inquiries are regarded, and that their desire of knowing is encouraged and commended. And I doubt not, but one great reason why many children abandon themselves wholly to silly sports, and trifle away all their time in trifling, is, because they have found their curiosity balked, and their inquiries neglected. But had they been treated with more kindness and respect, and their questions answered, as they should, to their satisfaction, I doubt not but they would have taken more pleasure in learning, and improving their knowledge, wherein there would be still newness and variety, which is what they are delighted with, than in returning over and over to the same play and playthings.

119. 2. To this serious answering their questions, and informing their understandings in what they desire, as if it were a matter that needed it, should be added some peculiar ways of commendation. Let others, whom they esteem, be told before their faces of the knowledge they have in such and such things; and since we are all, even from our cradles, vain and proud creatures, let their vanity be flattered with things that will do them good,1 and let their pride set them on work on something which may turn to their advantage. Upon this ground you shall find, that there cannot be a greater spur to the attaining what you would have the eldest learn and know himself, than to set him upon teaching it his younger brothers and sisters.

120. 3. As children’s inquiries are not to be slighted, so also great care is to be taken that they never receive deceitful and eluding answers. They easily perceive when they are slighted or deceived, and quickly learn the trick of neglect, dissimulation and falsehood, which they observe others to make use of. We are not to entrench upon truth in any conversation, but least of all with children; since, if we play false with them, we not only deceive their expectation, and hinder their knowledge, but corrupt their innocence, and teach them the worst of vices. They are travellers newly arrived in a strange country, of which they know nothing: we should therefore make conscience not to mislead them. And though their questions seem sometimes not very material, yet they should be seriously answered: for however they may appear to us (to whom they are long since known) inquiries not worth the making, they are of moment to those who are wholly ignorant. Children are strangers to all we are acquainted with; and all the things they meet with, are at first unknown to them, as they once were to us: and happy are they who meet with civil people, that will comply with their ignorance, and help them to get out of it. If you or I now should be set down in Japan, with all our prudence and knowledge about us, a conceit whereof makes us perhaps so apt to slight the thoughts and inquiries of children; should we, I say, be set down in Japan, we should, no doubt (if we would inform ourselves of what is there to be known), ask a thousand questions, which, to a supercilious or inconsiderate Japaner[Japanese], would seem very idle and impertinent; and yet to us would be natural; and we should be glad to find a man so kind and humane as to answer them and instruct our ignorance. When any new thing comes in their way, children usually ask the common question of a stranger, What is it? whereby they ordinarily mean nothing but the name; and therefore to tell them how it is called, is usually the proper answer to that demand. The next question usually is, What is it for? And to this it should be answered truly and directly: the use of the thing should be told, and the way explained, how it serves to such a purpose, as far as their capacities can comprehend it; and so of any other circumstances they shall ask about it; not turning them going till you have given them all the satisfaction they are capable of, and so leading them by your answers into farther questions. And perhaps, to a grown man, such conversation will not be altogether so idle and insignificant as we are apt to imagine. The native and untaught suggestions of inquisitive children do often offer things that may set a considering man’s thoughts on work. And I think there is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child, than the discourses of men, who talk in a road. Usually asked at a later stage in the child’s development, according to the notions they have borrowed, and the prejudices of their education.

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GOD GOVERNS IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN Speech by Benjamin Franklin During the Constitutional Convention

BenjaminFranklinQuotesQuarreledReligion

GOD GOVERNS IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN Speech by Benjamin Franklin During the Constitutional Convention, supporting his motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention. While the important question of the representation of the states in the senate was the subject of debate, and the states were almost equally divided upon it, Dr. Franklin moved that prayers should be attended in the convention every morning, and in support of his motion, thus addressed the president.

“Mr. President.—The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance and continual reasonings with each other—our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many nays, as ayes—is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights, to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this ; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little partial local interests ; our projects will be confounded ; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a by-word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”

To understand what the Founding Fathers meant by separation of Church and State you have to look at the history of Europe. They did not mean for us to push God and Jesus out of the public square or out of the governmental domain. They simply meant the government and the church would not join together to oppress the people as they had done historically, they were also against the establishment of a theological hierarchy, just as they were against the Divine Right of Kings to rule, as had been historically taught by the Church of England, the Catholic Church and the establishment religious organizations of the time. Far too often the Church was controlled by the King, or the King was controlled by the church, in all cases it was to the detriment of the common people. To misinterpret the Constitution as they do in this present time is a radical departure from it’s true meaning. Just as is proven, when they always conveniently leave out the second part of the religious freedom clause.

First Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

They always conveniently leave out “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, it does not say “freedom from religion”, it says freedom of religious expression. When you deny people in government the right to talk about God, Jesus, the Bible, from wearing crosses, denying their right to pray, etc. you are going against everything the founders stood for and denying their right to the “free exercise” of their religious beliefs, and you are also denying their right to free speech. This has gone on far too long and runs counter to everything the founding fathers believed and fought for.

See also: THE TRANSCENDENT GLORY OF THE REVOLUTION by John Quincy Adams
THE DECLARATION OF THE REPRESENTATIVES IN 1775 by John Dickinson
OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM; AND OF TRAITORS by John Dickinson 1732-1808
THE MEANING OF THE REVOLUTION and CONTROVERSY OF INDEPENDENCE
A PATRIOT’S THANKSGIVING by John Woolman; Quaker and Early Anti-Slavery Spokesman
A WARNING TO AMERICANS by John Dickinson 1732-1808
Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover: In memory of a great man I once knew

AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE by Samuel Adams Delivered to Congress Aug 1, 1776

Bill of RightsAMERICAN INDEPENDENCE: An oration delivered at the State house, in Philadelphia, to a very numerous audience, on Thursday, the first of August, 1776, by Samuel Adams, member of the General Congress of the united States of America.

Countrymen And Brethren: I would gladly have declined an honor, to which I find myself unequal. I have not the calmness and impartiality which the infinite importance of this occasion demands. I will not deny the charge of my enemies, that resentment for the accumulated injuries of our country, and an ardor for her glory, rising to enthusiasm, may deprive me of that accuracy of judgment and expression which men of cooler passions may possess. Let me beseech you then, to hear me with caution, to examine without prejudice, and to correct the mistakes into which I may be hurried by my zeal.

Truth loves an appeal to the common sense of mankind. Your unperverted understandings can best determine on subjects of a practical nature. The positions and plans which are said to be above the comprehension of the multitude may be always suspected to be visionary and fruitless. He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all.

Our forefathers threw off the yoke of Popery in religion; for you is reserved the honor of leveling the popery of politics. They opened the Bible to all, and maintained the capacity of every man to judge for himself in religion. Are we sufficient for the comprehension of the sublimest spiritual truths, and unequal to material and temporal ones?

A contemporary print,[1760’s] entitled " An Attempt to land a Bishop in America," gives the pressure of the times. The scene is at the wharf. Exclamations from the colonists, "No lords, spiritual or temporal, in New England!" "Shall they be obliged to maintain bishops who cannot maintain themselves !" salute the bishop's ears. On a banner, surmounted by a liberty-cap, is "Liberty and Freedom of Conscience;" and "Locke," "Sydney on Government," "Calvin's Works," and "Barclay's Apology," bless his eyes! The ship is shoved off shore; on the deck is the bishop's carriage, the wheels off; the crosier and mitre hang in the rigging; and the "saint in lawn," with his gown floating in the breeze, has mounted the shrouds halfway to the mast-head, and exclaims “Lord, now Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!”

A contemporary print,[1760’s] entitled ” An Attempt to land a Bishop in America,” gives the pressure of the times. The scene is at the wharf. Exclamations from the colonists, “No lords, spiritual or temporal, in New England!” “Shall they be obliged to maintain bishops who cannot maintain themselves !” salute the bishop’s ears. On a banner, surmounted by a liberty-cap, is “Liberty and Freedom of Conscience;” and “Locke,” “Sydney on Government,” “Calvin’s Works,” and “Barclay’s Apology,” bless his eyes! The ship is shoved off shore; on the deck is the bishop’s carriage, the wheels off; the crosier and mitre hang in the rigging; and the “saint in lawn,” with his gown floating in the breeze, has mounted the shrouds halfway to the mast-head, and exclaims “Lord, now Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!”

Heaven hath trusted us with the management of things for eternity, and man denies us ability to judge of the present, or to know from our feelings the experience that will make us happy. “You can discern,” say they, “objects distant and remote, but cannot perceive those within your grasp. Let us have the distribution of present goods, and cut out and manage as you please the interests of futurity.” This day, I trust, the reign of political protestanism will commence. We have explored the temple of royalty, and found that the idol we have bowed down to, has eyes which see not, ears that hear not our prayers, and a heart like the nether millstone.(1) We have this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which he bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come.

Having been a slave to the influence of opinion early acquired, and distinctions generally received, I am ever inclined not to despise but pity those who are yet in darkness. But to the eye of reason what can be more clear than that all men have an equal right to happiness? Nature made no other distinction than that of higher and lower degrees of power of mind and body. But what mysterious distribution of character has the craft of statesmen, more fatal than priestcraft, introduced?

According to their doctrine, the offspring of perhaps the lewd embraces of a successful invader shall, from generation to generation, arrogate the right of lavishing on their pleasures a proportion of the fruits of the earth, more than sufficient to supply the wants of thousands of their fellow-creatures; claim authority to manage them like beasts of burthen, and, without superior industry, capacity, or virtue, nay, though disgraceful to humanity, by their ignorance, intemperance, and brutality, shall be deemed best calculated to frame laws and to consult for the welfare of society.

Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all? Away, then, with those absurd systems which to gratify the pride of a few debase the greater part of our species below the order of men. What an affront to the King of the universe, to maintain that the happiness of a monster, sunk in debauchery and spreading desolation and murder among men, of a Caligula, a Nero, or a Charles, is more precious in his sight than that of millions of his suppliant creatures, who do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God! No, in the judgment of heaven there is no other superiority among men than a superiority in wisdom and virtue. And can we have a safer model in forming ours? The Deity, then, has not given any order or family of men authority over others; and if any men have given it, they only could give it for themselves. Our forefathers, ’tis said, consented to be subject to the laws of Great Britain. I will not, at present, dispute it, nor mark out the limits and conditions of their submission; but will it be denied that they contracted to pay obedience and to be under the control of Great Britain because it appeared to them most beneficial in their then present circumstances and situations? We, my countrymen, have the same right to consult and provide for our happiness which they had to promote theirs. If they had a view to posterity in their contracts, it must have been to advance the felicity of their descendants. If they erred in their expectations and prospects, we can never be condemned for a conduct which they would have recommended had they foreseen our present condition.

Ye darkeners of counsel, who would make the property, lives, and religion of millions depend on the evasive interpretations of musty parchments; who would send us to antiquated charters of uncertain and contradictory meaning, to prove that the present generation are not bound to be victims to cruel and unforgiving despotism, tell us whether our pious and generous ancestors bequeathed to us the miserable privilege of having the rewards of our honesty, industry, the fruits of those fields which they purchased and bled for, wrested from us at the will of men over whom we have no check. Did they contract for us that, with folded arms, we should expect that justice and mercy from brutal and inflamed invaders which have been denied to our supplications at the foot of the throne? Were we to hear our character as a people ridiculed with indifference? Did they promise for us that our meekness and patience should be insulted; our coasts harassed, our towns demolished and plundered, and our wives and offspring exposed to nakedness, hunger, and death, without our feeling the resentment of men, and exerting those powers of self-preservation which God has given us? No man had once a greater veneration for Englishmen than I entertained. They were dear to me as branches of the same parental trunk, and partakers of the same religion and laws; I still view with respect the remains of the constitution as I would a lifeless body, which had once been animated by a great and heroic soul. But when I am aroused by the din of arms; when I behold legions of foreign assassins, paid by Englishmen to imbrue their hands in our blood; when I tread over the uncoffined bodies of my countrymen, neighbors, and friends; when I see the locks of a venerable father torn by savage hands, and a feeble mother, clasping her infants to her bosom, and on her knees imploring their lives from her own slaves, whom Englishmen have allured to treachery and murder; when I behold my country, once the seat of industry, peace, and plenty, changed by Englishmen to a theatre of blood and misery, Heaven forgive me, if I cannot root out those passions which it has implanted in my bosom, and detest submission to a people who have either ceased to be human, or have not virtue enough to feel their own wretchedness and servitude!

Men who content themselves with the semblance of truth, and a display of words, talk much of our obligations to Great Britain for protection. Had she a single eye to our advantage?

A nation of shopkeepers are very seldom so disinterested. Let us not be so amused with words; the extension of her commerce was her object. When she defended our coasts, she fought for her customers, and convoyed our ships loaded with wealth, which we had acquired for her by our industry. She has treated us as beasts of burthen, whom the lordly masters cherish that they may carry a greater load. Let us inquire also against whom she has protected us? Against her own enemies with whom we had no quarrel, or only on her account, and against whom we always readily exerted our wealth and strength when they were required. Were these colonies backward in giving assistance to Great Britain, when they were called upon in 1739 to aid the expedition against Carthagena? They at that time sent three thousand men to join the British army, although the war commenced without their consent. But the last war, ’tis said, was purely American. This is a vulgar error, which, like many others, has gained credit by being confidently repeated. The dispute between the courts of Great Britain and France related to the limits of Canada and Nova Scotia. The controverted territory was not claimed by any in the colonies, but by the crown of Great Britain. It was therefore their own quarrel. The infringement of a right which England had, by the treaty of Utrecht, of trading in the Indian country of Ohio, was another cause of the war. The French seized large quantities of British manufacture and took possession of a fort which a company of British merchants and factors had erected for the ‘security of their commerce. The war was therefore waged in defense of lands claimed by the crown, and for the protection of British property. The French at that time had no quarrel with America, and, as appears by letters sent from their commander-in-chief, to some of the colonies, wished to remain in peace with us. The part, therefore, which we then took, and the miseries to which we exposed ourselves, ought to be charged to our affection to Britain. These colonies granted more than their proportion to the support of the war. They raised, clothed, and maintained nearly twenty-five thousand men, and so sensible were the people of England of our great exertions, that a message was annually sent to the House of Commons purporting, “that his Majesty, being highly satisfied with the zeal and vigor with which his faithful subjects in North America had exerted themselves in defense of his Majesty’s just rights and possessions, recommend it to the House to take the same into consideration, and enable him to give them a proper compensation.”

But what purpose can arguments of this kind answer? Did the protection we received annul our rights as men, and lay us under an obligation of being miserable?

Who among you, my countrymen, that is a father, would claim authority to make your child a slave because you had nourished him in infancy?

‘Tis a strange species of generosity which requires a return infinitely more valuable than anything it could have bestowed; that demands as a reward for a defense of our property a surrender of those inestimable privileges, to the arbitrary will of vindictive tyrants, which alone give value to that very property.

Political right and public happiness are different words for the same idea. They who wander into metaphysical labyrinths, or have recourse to original contracts, to determine the rights of men, either impose on themselves or mean to delude others. Public utility is the only certain criterion. It is a test which brings disputes to a speedy decision, and makes its appeal to the feelings of mankind. The force of truth has obliged men to use arguments drawn from this principle who were combating it, in practice and speculation. The advocates for a despotic government and nonresistance to the magistrate employ reasons in favor of their systems drawn from a consideration of their tendency to promote public happiness.

The Author of Nature directs all his operations to the production of the greatest good, and has made human virtue to consist in a disposition and conduct which tends to the common felicity of his creatures. An abridgement of the natural freedom of men, by the institutions of political societies, is vindicable only on this foot. How absurd, then, is it to draw arguments from the nature of civil society for the annihilation of those very ends which society was intended to procure! Men associate for their mutual advantage. Hence, the good and happiness of the members, that is, the majority of the members, of any State, is the great standard by which everything relating to that State must finally be determined; and though it may be supposed that a body of people may be bound by a voluntary resignation (which they have been so infatuated as to make) of all their interests to a single person, or to a few, it can never be conceived that the resignation is obligatory to their posterity; because it is manifestly contrary to the good of the whole that it should be so.

These are the sentiments of the wisest and most virtuous champions of freedom. Attend to a portion on this subject from a book in our own defense, written, I had almost said, by the pen of inspiration. “I lay no stress,” says he, “on charters; they derive their rights from a higher source. It is inconsistent with common sense to imagine that any people would ever think of settling in a distant country on any such condition, or that the people from whom they withdrew should forever be masters of their property, and have power to subject them to any modes of government they pleased. And had there been expressed stipulations to this purpose in all the charters of the colonies, they would, in my opinion, be no more bound by them, than if it had been stipulated with them that they should go naked, or expose themselves to the incursions of wolves and tigers.”

Such are the opinions of every virtuous and enlightened patriot in Great Britain. Their petition to heaven is, “That there may be one free country left upon earth, to which they may fly, when venality, luxury, and vice shall have completed the ruin of liberty there.”

Courage, then, my countrymen, our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty. Dismissing, therefore, the justice of our cause, as incontestable, the only question is, what is best for us to pursue in our present circumstances?

The doctrine of dependence on Great Britain is, I believe, generally exploded; but as I would attend to the honest weakness of the simplest of men, you will pardon me if I offer a few words on that subject.

We are now on this continent, to the astonishment of the world, three millions of souls united in one cause. We have large armies, well disciplined and appointed, with commanders inferior to none in military skill, and superior in activity and zeal. We are furnished with arsenals and stores beyond our most sanguine expectations, and foreign nations are waiting to crown our success by their alliances. There are instances of, I would say, an almost astonishing Providence in our favor; out success has staggered our enemies, and almost given faith to infidels; so we may truly say it is not our own arm which has saved us.

The hand of heaven appears to have led us on to be, perhaps, humble instruments and means in the great Providential dispensation which is completing. We have fled from the political Sodom; let us not look back, lest we perish and become a monument of infamy and derision to the world. For can we ever expect more unanimity and a better preparation for defense; more infatuation of counsel among our enemies, and more valor and zeal among ourselves? The same force and resistance which are sufficient to procure us our liberties will secure us a glorious independence and support us in the dignity of free, imperial States. We cannot suppose that our opposition has made a corrupt and dissipated nation more friendly to America, or created in them a greater respect for the rights of mankind. We can therefore expect a restoration and establishment of our privileges, and a compensation for the injuries we have received from their want of power, from their fears, and not from their virtues. The unanimity and valor which will effect an honorable peace can render a future contest for our liberties unnecessary. He who has strength to chain down the wolf is a madman if he let him loose without drawing his teeth and paring his nails.

From the day on which an accommodation takes place between England and America, on any other terms than as independent States, I shall date the ruin of this country. A politic minister will study to lull us into security, by granting us the full extent of our petitions. The warm sunshine of influence would melt down the virtue, which the violence of the storm rendered more firm and unyielding. In a state of tranquillity, wealth, and luxury, our descendants would forget the arts of war and the noble activity and zeal which made their ancestors invincible. Every art of corruption would be employed to loosen the bond of union which renders our resistance formidable. When the spirit of liberty which now animates our hearts and gives success to our arms is extinct, our numbers will accelerate our ruin and render us easier victims to tyranny.(2) Ye abandoned minions of an infatuated ministry, if peradventure any should yet remain among us, remember that a Warren and Montgomery are numbered among the dead. Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, What should be the reward of such sacrifices? Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom,— go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

To unite the supremacy of Great Britain and the liberty of America is utterly impossible. So vast a continent, and of such a distance from the seat of empire, will every day grow more unmanageable. The motion of so unwieldy a body cannot be directed with any dispatch and uniformity without committing to the Parliament of Great Britain powers inconsistent with our freedom. The authority and force which would be absolutely necessary for the preservation of the peace and good order of this continent would put all our valuable rights within the reach of that nation.

As the administration of government requires firmer and more numerous supports in proportion to its extent, the burdens imposed on us would be excessive, and we should have the melancholy prospect of their increasing on our posterity. The scale of officers, from the rapacious and needy commissioner to the haughty governor, and from the governor, with his hungry train, to perhaps a licentious and prodigal viceroy, must be upheld by you and your children. The fleets and armies which will be employed to silence your murmurs and complaints must be supported by the fruits of your industry.

And yet with all this enlargement of the expense and powers of government, the administration of it at such a distance, and over so extensive a territory, must necessarily fail of putting the laws into vigorous execution, removing private oppressions, and forming plans for the advancement of agriculture and commerce, and preserving the vast empire in any tolerable peace and security. If our posterity retain any spark of patriotism, they can never tamely submit to such burthens. This country will be made the field of bloody contention till it gain that independence for which nature formed it. It is, therefore, injustice and cruelty to our offspring, and would stamp us with the character of baseness and cowardice, to leave the salvation of this country to be worked out by them with accumulated difliculty and danger.

Prejudice, I confess, may warp our judgments. Let us hear the decision of Englishmen on this subject, who cannot be suspected of partiality. “The Americans,” they say, “are but little short of half our number. To this number they have grown from a small body of original settlers by a very rapid increase. The probability is that they will go on to increase, and that in fifty or sixty years they will be double our number, and form a mighty empire, consisting of a variety of States, all equal or superior to ourselves in all the arts and accomplishments which give dignity and happiness to human life. In that period will they be still bound to acknowledge that supremacy over them which we now claim? Can there be any person who will assert this, or whose mind does not revolt at the idea of a vast continent holding all that is valuable to it at the discretion of a handful of people on the other side of the Atlantic? But if at that period this would be unreasonable, what makes it otherwise now? Draw the line if you can. But there is still a greater difficulty. ”

Britain is now, I will suppose, the seat of liberty and virtue, and its legislature consists of a body of able and independent men, who govern with wisdom and justice. The time may come when all will be reversed; when its excellent constitution of government will be subverted; when, pressed by debts and taxes, it will be greedy to draw to itself an increase of revenue from every distant province, in order to ease its own burdens; when the influence of the crown, strengthened by luxury and a universal profligacy of manners, will have tainted every heart, broken down every fence of liberty, and rendered us a nation of tame and contented vassals; when a general election will be nothing but a general auction of boroughs, and when the Parliament, the grand council of the nation, and once the faithful guardian of the State, and a terror to evil ministers, will be degenerated into a body of sycophants, dependent and venal, always ready to confirm any measures, and little more than a public court for registering royal edicts. Such, it is possible, may, some time or other, ‘be the state of Great Britain. What will, at that period, be the duty of the colonies? Will they be still bound to unconditional submission? Must they always continue an appendage to our government and follow it implicitly through every change that can happen to it? Wretched condition, indeed, of millions of freemen as good as ourselves! Will you say that we now govern equitably, and that there is no danger of such revolution? Would to God that this were true! But you will not always say the same. Who shall judge whether we govern equitably or not? Can you give the colonies any security that such a period will never come? No. THE PERIOD, COUNTRYMEN, IS ALREADY COME! The calamities were at our door. The rod of oppression was raised over us. We were roused from our slumbers, and may we never sink into repose until we can convey a clear and undisputed inheritance to our posterity! This day we are called upon to give a glorious example of what the wisest and best of men were rejoiced to view, only in speculation. This day presents the world with the most august spectacle that its annals ever unfolded,—millions of freemen, deliberately and voluntarily forming themselves into a society for their common defense and common happiness. Immortal spirits of Hampden, Locke, and Sidney, will it not add to your benevolent joys to behold your posterity rising to the dignity of men, and evincing to the world the reality and expediency of your systems, and in the actual enjoyment of that equal liberty, which you were happy, when on earth, in delineating and recommending to mankind?

Other nations have received their laws from conquerors; some are indebted for a constitution to the suffering of their ancestors through revolving centuries. The people of this country, alone, have formally and deliberately chosen a government for themselves, and with open and uninfluenced consent bound themselves into a social compact. Here no man proclaims his birth or wealth as a title to honorable distinction, or to sanctify ignorance and vice with the name of hereditary authority. He who has most zeal and ability to promote public felicity, let him be the servant of the public.(3) This is the only line of distinction drawn by nature. Leave the bird of night to the obscurity for which nature intended him, and expect only from the eagle to brush the clouds with his wings and look boldly in the face of the sun.

Some who would persuade us that they have tender feelings for future generations, while they are insensible to the happiness of the present, are perpetually foreboding a train of dissensions under our popular system. Such men’s reasoning amounts to this: Give up all that is valuable to Great Britain and then you will have no inducements to quarrel among yourselves; or, suffer yourselves to be chained down by your enemies that you may not be able to fight with your friends.(4)

This is an insult on your virtue as well as your common sense. Your unanimity this day and through the course of the war is a decisive refutation of such invidious predictions. Our enemies have already had evidence that our present constitution contains in it the justice and ardor of freedom and the wisdom and vigor of the most absolute system. When the law is the will of the people, it will be uniform and coherent; but fluctuation, contradiction, and inconsistency of councils must be expected under those governments where every revolution in the ministry of a court produces one in the State—such being the folly and pride of all ministers, that they ever pursue measures directly opposite to those of their predecessors.

We shall neither be exposed to the necessary convulsions of elective monarchies, nor to the want of wisdom, fortitude, and virtue, to which hereditary succession is liable. In your hands it will be to perpetuate a prudent, active, and just legislature, and which will never expire until you yourselves loose the virtues which give it existence.

And, brethren and fellow-countrymen, if it was ever granted to mortals to trace the designs of Providence, and interpret its manifestations in favor of their cause, we may, with humility of soul, cry out, “Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy Name be the praise!” The confusion of the devices among our enemies, and the rage of the elements against them, have done almost as much towards our success as either our councils or our arms.

The time at which this attempt on our liberty was made, when we were ripened into maturity, had acquired a knowledge of war, and were free from the incursions of enemies in this country; the gradual advances of our oppressors enabling us to prepare for our defense; the unusual fertility of our lands and clemency of the seasons; the success which at first attended our feeble arms, producing unanimity among our friends and reducing our internal foes to acquiescence—these are all strong and palpable marks and assurances that Providence is yet gracious unto Zion, that it will turn away the captivity of Jacob.

Our glorious reformers when they broke through the fetters of superstition effected more than could be expected from an age so darkened. But they left much to be done by their posterity. They lopped off, indeed, some of the branches of Popery, but they left the root and stock when they left us under the domination of human systems and decisions, usurping the infallibility which can be attributed to Revelation alone. They dethroned one usurper only to raise up another; they refused allegiance to the Pope only to place the civil magistrate in the throne of Christ, vested with authority to enact laws and inflict penalties in his kingdom. And if we now cast our eyes over the nations of the earth, we shall find that, instead of possessing the pure religion of the Gospel, they may be divided either into infidels, who deny the truth; or politicians who make religion a stalking horse for their ambition; or professors, who walk in the trammels of orthodoxy, and are more attentive to traditions and ordinances of men than to the oracles of truth.

The civil magistrate has everywhere contaminated religion by making it an engine of policy; and freedom of thought and the right of private judgment, in matters of conscience, driven from every other corner of the earth, direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum. Let us cherish the noble guests, and shelter them under the wings of a universal toleration! Be this the seat of unbounded religious freedom. She will bring with her in her train, industry, wisdom, and commerce. She thrives most when left to shoot forth in her natural luxuriance, and asks from human policy only not to be checked in her growth by artificial encouragements.

Thus, by the beneficence of Providence, we shall behold our empire arising, founded on justice and the voluntary consent of the people, and giving full scope to the exercise of those faculties and rights which most ennoble our species. Besides the advantages of liberty and the most equal constitution, Heaven has given us a country with every variety of climate and soil, pouring forth in abundance whatever is necessary for the support, comfort, and strength of a nation. Within our own borders we possess all the means of sustenance, defense, and commerce; at the same time, these advantages are so distributed among the different States of this continent, as if nature had in view to proclaim to us: Be united among yourselves and you will want nothing from the rest of the world.

The more northern States most amply supply us with every necessary, and many of the luxuries of life; with iron, timber, and masts for ships of commerce or of war; with flax for the manufacture of linen, and seed either for oil or exportation.

So abundant are our harvests, that almost every part raises more than double the quantity of grain requisite for the support of the inhabitants. From Georgia and the Carolinas we have, as well for our own wants as for the purpose of supplying the wants of other powers, indigo, rice, hemp, naval stores, and lumber.

Virginia and Maryland teem with wheat, Indian corn, and tobacco. Every nation whose harvest is precarious, or whose lands yield not those commodities which we cultivate, will gladly exchange their superfluities and manufactures for ours.

We have already received many and large cargoes of clothing, military stores, etc., from our commerce with foreign powers, and, in spite of the efforts of the boasted navy of England, we shall continue to profit by this connection.

The want of our naval stores has already increased the price of these articles to a great height, especially in Britain. Without our lumber, it will be impossible for those haughty islanders to convey the products of the West Indies to their own ports; for a while they may with difficulty effect it, but, without our assistance, their resources soon must fail. Indeed, the West India Islands appear as the necessary appendages to this our empire. They must owe their support to it, and ere long, I doubt not, some of them will, from necessity, wish to enjoy the benefit of our protection.

These natural advantages will enable us to remain independent of the world, or make it the interest of European powers to court our alliance, and aid in protecting us against the invasion of others. What argument, therefore, do we want to show the equity of our conduct; or motive of interest to recommend it to our prudence? Nature points out the path, and our enemies have obliged us to pursue it.

If there is any man so base or so weak as to prefer a dependence on Great Britain to the dignity and happiness of living a member of a free and independent nation, let me tell him that necessity now demands what the generous principle of patriotism should have dictated.

We have no other alternative than independence, or the most ignominious and galling servitude. The legions of our enemies thicken on our plains; desolation and death mark their bloody career; whilst the mangled corpses of our countrymen seem to cry out to us as a voice from heaven:—

“Will you permit our posterity to groan under the galling chains of our murderers? Has our blood been expended in vain? Is the only benefit which our constancy till death has obtained for our country, that it should be sunk into a deeper and more ignominious vassalage? Recollect who are the men that demand your submission, to whose decrees you are invited to pay obedience. Men who, unmindful of their relation to you as brethren; of your long implicit submission to their laws; of the sacrifice which you and your forefathers made of your natural advantages for commerce to their avarice; formed a deliberate plan to wrest from you the small pittance of property which they had permitted you to acquire. Remember that the men who wish to rule over you are they who, in pursuit of this plan of despotism, annulled the sacred contracts which they had made with your ancestors; conveyed into your cities a mercenary soldiery to compel you to submission by insult and murder; who called your patience cowardice, your piety hypocrisy.”

Countrymen, the men who now invite you to surrender your rights into their hands are the men who have let loose the merciless savages to riot in the blood of their brethren; who have dared to establish Popery triumphant in our land; who have taught treachery to your slaves, and courted them to assassinate your wives and children.

These are the men to whom we are exhorted to sacrifice the blessings which Providence holds out to us; the happiness, the dignity, of uncontrolled freedom and independence.

Let not your generous indignation be directed against any among us who may advise so absurd and maddening a measure. Their number is but few, and daily decreases; and the spirit which can render them patient of slavery will render them contemptible enemies.

Our Union is now complete; our constitution composed, established, and approved. You are now the guardians of your own liberties. We may justly address you, as the decemviri did the Romans, and say, “Nothing that we propose can pass into a law without your consent. Be yourselves, O Americans, the authors of those laws on which your happiness depends.”

You have now in the field armies sufficient to repel the whole force of your enemies and their base and mercenary auxiliaries. The hearts of your soldiers beat high with the spirit of freedom; they are animated with the justice of their cause, and while they grasp their swords can look up to Heaven for assistance. Your adversaries are composed of wretches who laugh at the rights of humanity, who turn religion into derision, and would, for higher wages, direct their swords against their leaders or their country. Go on, then, in your generous enterprise with gratitude to Heaven for past success, and confidence of it in the future. For my own part, I ask no greater blessing than to share with you the common danger and common glory. If I have a wish dearer to my soul than that my ashes may be mingled with those of a Warren and Montgomery, it is that these American States may never cease to be free and independent.

FOOTNOTES

1. The homage that is paid in some countries to monarchs and their favorites, is disgraceful to humanity. Should one of my honest countrymen be suddenly conveyed to an European court, he would fancy himself admitted into sums heathen temple. The policy of courtiers seems to have been to render their sovereigns as dependent on themselves is possible, by accustoming them to bear with their ears- see with their eyes, and perform the most common offices with their assistance, and under their direction; like the conning of priests who labor to place themselves between the Deity and mankind, and to make themselves the only channels of communication between earth and Heaven. Such monarchs resemble Rabelais’s Queen, who never chew’d any thing; not that her teeth were not good and strong, and that her food did not require mastication, but such was the indispensable ceremonial of her court, her officers took her meat and chew’d it nobly, having their mouths line’d with crimson satin, and their teeth cased over with fine white ivory, after this they passed it into her stomach by a golden pipe. * * * * *Rabelais, lib. 5.
2. Temporary tumults and civil wars may give much disturbance to rulers, but they do not constitute the real misfortunes of a people, who may even enjoy some respite while they are disputing who shall play the tyrant over them. It is from their permanent sitnatlon that their real prosperity or calamity must arise; when all submit tamely to the yoke, then it is that all are perishing, then it is that their chiefs, destroying them at their case, ubi solitudinum faciunt pacem[when they make peace] appellant. When the intrigues of the ministry agitated the kingdom of France, and the coadjutor of Paris carried a poniard in his pocket to Parliament, all this did not hinder the bulk of the French nation from growing numerous and enjoying themselves in happiness and at their ease. Ancient Greece flourished in the midst of the most cruel wars; human blood was spilt in torrents, and yet the country swarmed with inhabitants. It appears, says Machiavel, that in the midst of murders, proscriptions, and civil wars, our republic became only the more powerful: the virtue of the citizens, their manners, their independence, had a greater effect to strengthen it, than all its dissensions had to weaken it. A little agitation gives vigor to the mind, and liberty, not peace, is the real source of the prosperity of our species,— J. J. Rousseau.
3. A celebrated foreigner gives us a very just description of the methods by which eminence is generally acquired in monarchies. “One makes a fortune because he can cringe, another because he can lie; this man because he seasonably dishonors himself; that, because he betrays his friend; bat the surest means to mount as high as Alberoni, is to offer, like him, ragouts of mushrooms to the Duke of Vendome, and there are Vendomes everywhere. They who are called great, have generally no other ascendency over us but what our weakness permits them, or what our meanness gives them.”
4. From the absurd reasonings of some men we may conclude that they are of opinion, that all free governments are equally liable to convulsions, but the differences that are in the constitution and genius of popular governments are astonishingly great, some being for defence, some for increase, some more equal, others more unequal; some turbulent and seditious, others like streams in a perpetual tranquillity. That which causeth much sedition in a commonwealth is inequality, as in Rome where the Senate oppressed the peon’s. But if a commonwealth be perfectly equal, it is void of sedition, and has attained to perfection, being void of all internal causes of dissolution. Many ancient moral writers, Cicero in particular, have said, that a well constituted commonwealth is immortal—AEterna est.  An equal commonwealth is a government founded upon a balance which is perfectly popular, and which from the balance, through the free suffrage of the people given by ballot, amounts, in the superstructures, to a Senate debating and proposing, a representative of the people resolving, and a magistracy executing; each of these three orders being upon rotation, that is, elected for certain terms, enjoining like intervals.— Vide Harrington