Foundations of America: The American Dream

OneNationUnderGod

Editors Note: Freedom cannot exist without morality, integrity and self-restraint. This is something the Founding Fathers were quite aware of. The less morality, integrity and self-restraint people have, the greater the need for laws to restrain the actions of men. The idea of self-governance the Founding Fathers promoted included the governing of your passions & desires, to restrain yourself from bad acts and choices. The Founding Fathers knew a people who could govern their own behavior would not need laws to restrain their freedoms! Moral decline in America is key to our loss of liberty!

How many who say “God bless America” realize they each have a duty to help obtain those blessings by living a righteous life? Not only did our ancestors ask for personal forgiveness at Thanksgiving along with their thanks. They also asked forgiveness for our National sins. A very good practice to follow!

I hear so many people in this present age speak of the American Dream as if, all it were, was to have a job, buy a house, and raise a family. For some it is to become famous, to be adored far and wide for some God given talent as if it were of their own making. To others it is to grow rich or have powers over others. All of these are far from the dreams of the Founding Fathers of America.

The American Dream was, and still is that, All Men are Created Equal. [Acts 10: 22-35 “God is no respecter of persons”]

This means that all men are able to live up to the potential provided them, by the Creator of all things, unencumbered by overlords, masters, oppressive and intrusive men in high places. America was not formed under a king! The ideal of America was, and is that all men are kings, in charge of their own destinies, and their destinies not to be determined by others, others who thought they knew more of what was good for the common people than the people themselves.

Think of it! All men are kings, all under the rule of the one just and true King, the King of Creation, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. [Revelation 19:16]

Before America was formed, the people who came here. had been taught for centuries the Divine Right of Kings, men’s destinies were determined by their birth, you were what your father was, nothing more and nothing less, and the Kings decree was the law. They were nations of men, ruled by men, instead of nations of laws, which all men were made to abide by. In America all men were to have an equal voice in their own governance.

Once the Bible was translated into languages that even the common people could read and understand, they grew to understand that indeed All men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. The Bible taught them there is only one true King and only one true God, God being the head and Father of Christ, Christ and only Christ being the head of man, no, not one man, but all men! [1 Corinthians 11:3] Consider how Revolutionary this must have seemed at the time. The British loyalists of the War of Independence: if not only because they had the kings favor and positions of wealth, they were loyal also because they feared God and believed in the divine right of kings, they would be heard to say “For God and King”.

The American colonial Patriots believed this phrase “For God and Country” the difference being their King was, and is Christ Jesus, not king George of Great Britain, or any other! According to their understanding it was impossible for them to have a king who was mere flesh and blood such as they themselves were, indeed! Christ being the head of man, King of Kings, Lord of Lords! How could they believe anything else, except that all men were created Kings and Lords over their own destinies, over their own lives, over their own lands, over their own happiness.

Their possessions could no longer be confiscated by the king or his underlings, no longer could they be taxed out of existence and sustenance, no longer could their lives be determined by their birth, instead of their self worth! No longer could the church [Ephesians 4:5] and state tell you how to live, where to live, how to serve God, what God expected of you individually, what your destiny would be, what your station and position in life would be! Indeed you could follow your own loves, determine your own destiny, [Philippians 2:12] have any station or position your God given talent and hard work could afford you, and above all, serve God as your conscience alone dictated!

Indeed this was and still is the True American Dream! Your destiny is not to support the state, but for the state to support your liberty to work out your own destiny, follow your own dreams, pursue your own happiness, and for the state to stay out of the affairs that pertain to God, Christ Jesus, and mans conscience alone, for all men in the era of the Founding Fathers….

All men were raised on the Bible, and their consciences formed early in life, this was the true secret of liberty in America, and why America was given so much, because they were taught to follow the precepts of Christ.

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams

Indeed! it was those precepts that ended slavery and segregation in America. No, America was not perfect at her birth, but then who ever is? What was and is perfect? The work that God performed through men of wisdom, who sat at the feet of King Jesus, who wrote the Foundation Documents that are our birthright and heritage… The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

The Declaration of Independence declared it to the world, the Constitution sealed it against the powers of men, and the Bill of Rights cemented it against the abuse of government! All men are created equal by one God, and under one King, who all men must answer to for the deeds or misdeeds they commit on others!

What a great and beautiful concept, Revolutionary then, as it still seems to be today, for we are still fighting for the same things in this present time, they fought in their time! Abusive people in positions of power who think they have the right to rule over us, who think we should be thanking them for whatever meager crumbs they let fall from their ivory towers of power!

So yes, we fight, and will continue to fight, to realize the dream, that once was, and still is, America!

In the records of the expedition under Frobisher, which settled the first English colony in America, there is this entry:

“On Monday morning, May twenty-seventh, 1578, aboard the Ayde, we received all, the communion by the minister of Gravesend, prepared as good Christians toward God, and resolute men for all fortunes; and toward night we departed toward Tilbury Hope. Here we highly prayed God, and altogether, upon our knees, gave him due humble and hearty thanks, and Maister Wolfall . . . made unto us a goodbye sermon, exhorting all especially to be thankful to God for his strange and marvelous deliverance in those dangerous places.”

God bless each and every one of you, God bless America and Liberty Forever under Christ Jesus, our Lord and King! America be thankful always for the many blessings God has given to America in all things.

 

Alexis de Tocqueville author was a Frenchman who visited the United States and traveled here  extensively in the early-mid 1800’s explained the importance of Christianity to America, Americans and to her political, private and civil institutions. He wrote of his experiences in 2 volumes Democracy in America. [Following is an excerpt]

NORTH AMERICA PEOPLED BY MEN WHO PROFESSED A DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN CHRISTIANITY.

EVERY religion is to be found in juxtaposition to a political opinion, which is connected with it by affinity. If the human mind be left to follow its own bent, it will regulate the temporal and spiritual institutions of society upon one uniform principle; and man will endeavour, if I may use the expression, to harmonize the state in which he lives upon earth, with the state he believes to await him in heaven.

The greatest part of British America was peopled by men who, after having shaken off the authority of the pope, acknowledged no other religious supremacy: they brought with them into the New World a form of Christianity, which I cannot better describe, than by styling it a democratic and republican religion. This sect contributed powerfully to the establishment of a democracy and a republic; and from the earliest settlement of the emigrants, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved…

I have just shown what the direct influence of religion upon politics is in the United States ; but its indirect influence appears to me to be still more considerable, and it never instructs the Americans more fully in the art of being free than when it says nothing of freedom.

The [Christian] sects which exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due from man to his Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner; but all the sects preach the same moral law in the name of God. If it be of the slightest importance to man, as an individual, that his religion should be true, the case of society is not the same. Society has no future life to hope for or to fear; and provided the citizens profess a religion, the peculiar tenets of that religion are of very little importance to its interests. Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same.

It may be believed without unfairness, that a certain number of Americans pursue a peculiar form of worship, from habit more than from conviction. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of mm than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

I have remarked that the members of the American clergy in general, without even excepting those who do not admit religious liberty, are all in favour of civil freedom; but they do not support any particular political system. They keep aloof from parties, and from public affairs. In the United States religion exercises but little influence upon the laws, and upon the details of public opinion; but it directs the manners of the community, and by regulating domestic life, it regulates the state.

I do not question that the great austerity of manners which is observable in the United States, arises, in the first instance, from religious faith. Religion is often unable to restrain man from the numberless temptations of fortune; nor can it check that passion for gain which every incident of his life contributes to arouse ; but its influence over the mind of woman is supreme, and women are the protectors of morals. There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is so much respected as in America, or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated. In Europe almost all the disturbances of society arise from the irregularities of domestic life. To despise the natural bonds and legitimate pleasures of home, is to contract a taste for excesses, a restlessness of heart, and the evil of fluctuating desires. Agitated by the tumultuous passions which frequently disturb his dwelling, the European is galled by the obedience which the legislative powers of the state exact. But when the American retires from the turmoil of public life to the bosom of his family, he finds in it the image of order and of peace. There his pleasures are simple and natural, his joys are innocent and calm; and as he finds that an orderly life is the surest path to happiness, he accustoms himself without difficulty to moderate his opinions as well as his tastes. While the European endeavours to forget his domestic troubles by agitating society, the American derives from his own home that love of order, which he afterward carries with him into public affairs.

In the United States the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people. Among the Anglo-Americans, there are some who profess the doctrines of Christianity from a sincere belief in them, and others who do the same because they are afraid to be suspected of unbelief. Christianity, therefore, reigns without any obstacle, by universal consent; the consequence is, as I have before observed, that every principle of the moral world is fixed and determinate, although the political world is abandoned to the debates and the experiments of men. Thus the human mind is never left to wander across a boundless field; and, whatever may be its pretensions, 1t is checked from time to time by barriers which it cannot surmount. Before it can perpetrate innovation, certain primal and immutable principles are laid down, and the boldest conceptions of human de— vice are subjected to certain forms which retard and stop their completion.

The imagination of the Americans, even in its greatest flights, is circumspect and undecided; its impulses are checked, and its works unfinished. These habits of restraint recur in political society, and are singularly favourable both to the tranquillity of the people and to the durability of the institutions it has established. Nature and circumstances concurred to make the inhabitants of the United States bold men, as is sufficiently attested by the enterprising spirit with which they seek for fortune. If the minds of the Americans were free from all trammels, they would very shortly become the most daring innovators and the most implacable disputants in the world. But the revolutionists of America are obliged to profess an ostensible respect for Christian morality and equity, which does not easily permit them to violate the laws that oppose their designs; nor would they find it easy to surmount the scruples of their partisans, even if they were able to get over their own. Hitherto no one, in the United States, has dared to advance the maxim, that everything is permissible with a view to the interests of society; an impious adage, which seems to have been invented in an age of freedom, to shelter all the tyrants of future ages. Thus while the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust.

Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all the Americans have a sincere faith in their religion; for who can search the human heart; but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation, and to every rank of society.

In the United States, if a political character attacks a sect, this may not prevent even the partisans of that very sect, from supporting him; but if he attacks all the sects together, every one abandons him, and he remains alone.

While I was in America, a witness, who happened to be called at the assizes of the county of Chester (state of New York), declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or in the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit his evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all the confidence of the court in what he was about to say)“ The newspapers related the fact without any farther comment.

The New York Spectator of August 23d, 1831, relates the fact in the following terms: The court of common pleas of Chester county (New York), a few days since rejected a witness who declared his disbelief in the existence of God. The presiding judge remarked, that he had not before been admire that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction of all testimony in a court of justice: and that he knew of no cause in a Christian country, where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.”

[The instance given by the author, of a person offered as a witness having been rejected on the ground that he did not believe in the. existence of a God seems to be adduced to prove either his assertion that the Americans hold religion to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions—or his assertion, that if a man attacks all the, sects together, every one abandons him and he remains alone. But it is questionable how far the fact quoted proves either of these positions. The rule which prescribes as a qualification for a witness the belief in a Supreme Being who will punish falsehood, without which’ he is. deemed wholly incompetent to testify, is established for the protection of personal rights, and not to compel the adoption of any system of religious belief. It came with all our fundamental principles from England as a part of the common law which the colonists brought with them. It is supposed to prevail in every country in Christendom, whatever may be the form of its government ; and the only doubt that arises respecting its existence in France, is created by our author’s apparent surprise at finding such a rule in America.]

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

I have known of societies formed by the Americans to send out ministers of the gospel into the new western states, to found schools and churches there, lest religion should he suffered to die away in those remote settlements, and the rising states be less fitted to enjoy free institutions than the people from which they emanated. I met with wealthy New Englanders who abandoned the country in which they were born, in order to lay the foundations of Christianity and of freedom on the banks of the Missouri or in the prairies of Illinois. Thus religious zeal is perpetually stimulated in the United States by the duties of patriotism. These men do not act from an exclusive consideration of the promises of a future life; eternity is only one motive of their devotion to the cause ; and if you converse with these missionaries of Christian civilization, you will be surprised to find how much value they set upon the goods of this world, and that you meet with a politician where you expected to find a priest. They will tell you that “all the American republics are collectively involved with each other; if the republics of the west were to fall into anarchy, or to be mastered by a despot, the republican institutions which now flourish upon the shores of the Atlantic ocean would be in great peril. It is therefore our interest that the new states should be religious, in order to maintain our liberties.”

Such are the opinions of the Americans: and if any hold that the religious spirit which I admire is the very thing most amiss in America, and that the only element wanting to the freedom and happiness of the human race is to believe in some blind cosmogony, or to assert with Cabanis the secretion of thought by the brain, I can only reply, that those who hold this language have never been in America, and that they have never seen a religious or a free nation. When they return from their expedition, we shall hear what they have to say.

There are persons in France who look upon republican institutions as a temporary means of power, of wealth and distinction; men who are the condottieri [warlords] of liberty, and who fight for their own advantage, whatever he the colours they wear: it is not to these that I address myself. But there are others who look forward to the republican form of government as a tranquil and lasting state, toward which modern society is daily impelled by the ideas and manners of the time, and who sincerely desire to prepare men to be free. When these men attack religious opinions, they obey the dictates of their passions to the prejudice of their interests. Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic which they set forth in glowing colours, than in the monarchy which they attack; and it is more needed in democratic republics than in any others. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? and what can be done with a people which is its own master, if it be not submissive to the Divinity ’!

PRINCIPAL CAUSES WHICH RENDER RELIGION POWERFUL IN AMERICA.

Care taken by the Americans to separate the Church from the State.–The Laws, pub. lic Opinion, and even the Exertions of the Clergy concur to promote this end.—Influence of Religion upon the Mind, in the United States, attributable to this Cause. –Reason of this.—What is the natural State of Men with regard to Religion at the present Time.—What are the peculiar and incidental Causes which prevent Men, in certain Countries, from arriving at this State.

THE philosophers of the eighteenth century explained the gradual decay of religious faith in a very simple manner. Religious zeal, said they, must necessarily fail, the more generally liberty is established and knowledge diffused. Unfortunately, facts are by no means in accordance with their theory. There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equalled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfils all the outward duties of religion with fervour.

Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention ; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomenon increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it, I questioned the members of all the different sects; and I more especially sought the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different persuasions, and who are more especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman catholic church I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests, with whom I became intimately acquainted. To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and I explained my doubts: I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone; and that they mainly attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country, to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America,l did not meet with a single individual, of the clergy or of the laity, who was not of the same opinion upon this point. .

This led me to examine more attentively than I had hitherto done, the station which the American clergy occupy in political society. I learned with surprise that they filled no public appointments; not one of them is to be met with in the administration, and they are not even represented in the legislative assemblies. In several states the law excludes them from political life; public opinion in all. And when I came to inquire into the prevailing spirit of the clergy, I found that most of its members seemed to retire of their own accord from the exercise of power, and that they made it the pride of their profession to abstain from politics.

I heard them inveigh against ambition and deceit, under whatever political opinions these vices might chance to lurk; but I learned from their discourses that men are not guilty in the eye of God for any opinions concerning political government, which they may profess with sincerity, any more than they are for their mistakes in building a house or in driving a furrow. I perceived that these ministers of the gospel eschewed all parties, with the anxiety attendant upon personal interest. These facts convinced me that what I had been told was true; and it then became my object to investigate their causes, and to inquire how it happened that the real authority of religion was increased by a state of things which diminished its apparent force: these causes did not long escape my researches.

The short space of threescore years can never content the imagination of man ; nor can the imperfect joys of this world satisfy his heart. Man alone, of all created beings, displays a natural contempt of existence, and yet a boundless desire to exist; he scorns life, but he dreads annihilation. These different feelings incessantly urge his soul to the contemplation of a future state, and religion directs his musings thither. Religion, then, is simply another form of hope; and it is no less natural to the human heart than hope itself. Men cannot abandon their religious faith without a kind of aberration of intellect, and a sort of violent distortion of their true natures; but they are invinciny brought back to more pious sentiments; for unbelief is an accident, and faith is the only permanent state of mankind. If we only consider religious institutions in a purely human point of view, they may be said to derive an inexhaustible element of strength from man himself, since they belong to one of the constituent principles of human nature.

I am aware that at certain times religion may strengthen this influence, which originates in itself, by the artificial power of the laws, and by the support of those temporal institutions which direct society. Religions, intimately united to the governments of the earth, have been known to exercise a sovereign authority derived from the twofold source of terror and of faith; but when a religion contracts an alliance of this nature, I do not hesitate to affirm that it commits the same error, as a man who should sacrifice his future to his present welfare; and in obtaining a power to which it has no claim, it risks that authority which is rightfully its own. When a religion founds its empire upon the desire of immortality which lives in every human heart, it may aspire to universal dominion: but when it connects itself with a government, it must necessarily adopt maxims which are only applicable to certain nations. Thus, in forming an alliance with a political power, religion augments its authority over a few, and forfeits the hope of reigning over all.

As long as a religion rests upon those sentiments which are the consolation of all affliction, it may attract the affections of mankind. But if it be mixed up with the bitter passions of the world, it may be constrained to defend allies whom its interests, and not the principles of love, have given to it ; or to repel as antagonists men who are still attached to its own spirit, however opposed they may be to the powers to which it is allied. The church cannot share the temporal power of the state, without being the object of a portion of that animosity which the latter excites.

The political powers which seem to be most firmly established have frequently no better guarantee for their duration, than the opinions of a generation, the interests of the time, or the life of an individual. A law may modify the social condition which seems to be most fixed and determinate; and with the social condition everything else must change. The powers of society are more or less fugitive, like the years which we spend upon the earth ; they succeed each other with rapidity like the fleeting cares of life; and no government has ever yet been founded upon an invariable disposition of the human heart, or upon an imperishable interest.

As long as religion is sustained by those feelings, propensities, and passions, which are found to occur under the same forms, at all the different periods of history, it may defy the efforts of time ; or at least it can only be destroyed by another religion. But when religion clings to the interests of the world, it becomes almost as fragile a thing as the powers of earth. It is the only one of them all which can hope for immortality; but if it be connected with their ephemeral authority, it shares their fortunes, and may fall with

those transient passions which supported them for a day. The alliance which religion contracts with political powers must needs be onerous to itself; since it does not require their assistance to live, and by giving them its assistance it may be exposed to decay.

The danger which I have just pointed out always exists, but it is not always equally visible. In some ages governments seem to be imperishable, in others the existence of society appears to be more precarious than the life of man. Some constitutions plunge the citizens into a lethargic somnolence, and others rouse them to feverish excitement. When government appears to be so strong, and laws so stable, men do not perceive the dangers which may accrue from a union of church and state. When governments display so much inconstancy, the danger is self-evident, but it is no longer possible to avoid it; to be effectual, measures must be taken to discover its approach.

In proportion as a nation assumes a democratic condition of society, and as communities display democratic propensities, it becomes more and more dangerous to connect religion with political institutions ; for the time is coming when authority will be bandied from hand to hand, when political theories will succeed each other, and when men, laws, and constitutions, will disappear or be modified from day to day, and this not for a season only, but unceasingly. Agitation and mutability are inherent in the nature of democratic republics, just as stagnation and inertness are the law of absolute monarchies.

If the Americans, who change the head of the government once in four years, who elect new legislators every two years, and renew the provincial officers every twelvemonth ; if the Americans, who have abandoned the political world, to the attempts of innovators, had not placed religion beyond their reach, where could it abide in the ebb and flow of human opinions? where would that respect which belongs to it be paid, amid the struggles of faction ‘? and what would become of its immortality in the midst of perpetual decay ’! The American clergy were the first to perceive this truth, and to act in conformity with it. They saw that they must renounce their religious influence, if they were to strive for political power; and they chose to give up the support of the state, rather than to share its vicissitudes.

In America, religion is perhaps less powerful than it has been at certain periods in the history of certain peoples ; but its influence is more lasting. It restricts itself to its own resources, but of those none can deprive it: its circle is limited to certain principles, but those principles are entirely its own, and under its undisputed control.

On every side in Europe we hear voices complaining of the absence of religious faith, and inquiring the means of restoring to religion some remnant of its pristine authority. It seems to me that We must first attentively consider what ought to be the natural state of men with regard to religion, at the present time ; and when we know what we have to hope and to fear, we may discern the end to which our efforts ought to be directed.

The two great dangers which threaten the existence of religions are schism and indifference. In ages of fervent devotion, men sometimes abandon their religion, but they only shake it off in order to adopt another. Their faith changes the objects to which it is directed, but it suffers no decline. The old religion, then, excites enthusiastic attachment or bitter enmity in either party ; some leave it with anger, others cling to it with increased devotedness, and although persuasions differ, irreligion is unknown. Such, however, is not the case when a religious belief is secretly undermined by doctrines which may be termed negative, since they deny the truth of one religion without affirming that of any other. Prodigious revolutions then take place in the human mind, without the apparent co-operation of the passions of man, and almost without his knowledge. Men lose the objects of their fondest hopes, as if through forgetfulness. They are carried away by an imperceptible current which they have not the courage to stem, but which they follow with regret, since it bears them from a faith they love, to a skepticism that plunges them into despair.

In ages which answer to this description, men desert their religious opinions from lukewarmness rather than from dislike ; they do not reject them, but the sentiments by which they were once fostered disappear. But if the unbeliever does not admit religion to be true, he still considers it useful. Regarding religious institutions in a human point of view, he acknowledges their influence upon manners and legislation. He admits that they may serve to make men live in peace with one another, and to prepare them gently for the hour of death. He regrets the faith which he has lost ; and as he is deprived of a treasure which he has learned to estimate at its full value, he scruples to take it from those who still possess it.

On the other hand, those who continue to believe, are not afraid openly to avow their faith. They look upon those who do not share their persuasion as more worthy of pity than of opposition; and they are aware, that to acquire the esteem of the unbelieving, they are not obliged to follow their example. They are hostile to no one in the world; and as they do not consider the society in which they live as an arena in which religion is bound to face its thousand deadly foes, they love their contemporaries, while they condemn their weaknesses, and lament their errors.

As those who do not believe, conceal their incredulity; and as those who believe, display their faith, public opinion pronounces itself in favour of religion: love, support, and honour, are bestowed upon it, and it is only by searching the human soul, that we can detect the wounds which it has received. The mass of mankind, who are never without the feeling of religion, do not perceive anything at variance with the established faith. The instinctive desire of a future life brings the crowd about the altar, and opens the hearts of men to the precepts and consolations of religion.

But this picture is not applicable to us; for there are men among us who have ceased to behave in Christianity, without adopting any other religion ; others who are in the perplexities of doubt, and who already affect not to believe; and others, again, who are afraid to avow that Christian faith which they still cherish in secret.

Amid these lukewarm partisans and ardent antagonists, a small number of believers exist, who are ready to brave all obstacles, and to scorn all dangers, in defence of their faith. They have done violence to human weakness, in order to rise superior to public opinion. Excited by the effort they have made, they scarcely know where to stop; and as they know that the first use which the French made of independence, was to attack religion, they look upon their contemporaries with dread, and they recoil in alarm from the liberty which their fellow-citizens are seeking to obtain. As unbelief appears to them to be a novelty, they comprise all that is new in one indiscriminate animosity. They are at war with their age and country, and they look upon every opinion which is put forth there as the necessary enemy of the faith.

Such is not the natural state of men with regard to religion at the present day; and some extraordinary or incidental cause must be at work in France, to prevent the human mind from following its original propensities, and to drive it beyond the limits at which it ought naturally to stop.

I am intimately convinced that this extraordinary and incidental cause is the close connexion of politics and religion. The unbelievers of Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents, rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a party, much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are the representatives of the Divinity, than because they are the allies of authority.

In Europe, Christianity has been intimately united to the powers of the earth. Those powers are now in decay, and it is, as it were, buried under their ruins. The living body of religion has been bound down to the dead c0rpse of superannuated polity; cut the bonds which restrain it, and that which is alive will rise once more. I know not what could restore the Christian church of Europe to the energy of its earlier days; that power belongs to God alone; but it may be the effect of human policy to leave the faith in all the full exercise of the strength which it still retains.

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Early History of Boston by Josiah Quincy Jr. “The Patriot” President of Harvard University

Josiah Quincy Jr. "The Patriot" Concerning Human Happiness & Freedom

Josiah Quincy Jr. “The Patriot” Concerning Human Happiness & Freedom (Click to enlarge)

[A brief sketch of the leading events in the early history of Boston had been prepared for this little volume: but the following remarks were finally considered more appropriate, to precede views of Boston as it is in 1851. They form part of “An address to the citizens of Boston, on the 17th of September, 1830, the close of the second century from the first settlement of the city.” By Josiah Quincy, LL.D., then President of Harvard University.]

Speech given at a ceremony to celebrate the addition of Dane Law College, made possible by Nathan Dane’s contribution to the university.

Cities and empires, not leas than individuals, are chiefly indebted for their fortunes to circumstances and influences independent of the labors and wisdom of the passing generation. Is our lot cast in a happy soil, beneath a favored sky, and under the shelter of free institutions? How few of all these blessings do we owe to our own power, or our own prudence! How few, on which we cannot discern the impress of long past generations!

It is natural that reflections of this kind should awaken curiosity concerning the men of past ages. It is suitable, and characteristic of noble natures, to love to trace in venerated institutions the evidences of ancestral worth and wisdom; and to cherish that mingled sentiment of awe and admiration which takes possession of the soul in the presence of ancient, deep-laid, and massy monuments of intellectual and moral power.

Standing, after the lapse of two centuries, on the very spot selected for us by our fathers, and surrounded by social, moral, and religious blessings greater than paternal love, in its fondest visions, ever dared to fancy, we naturally turn our eyes backward, on the descending current of years; seeking the causes of that prosperity which has given this city so distinguished a name and rank among similar associations of men.

Happily its foundations were not laid in dark ages, nor is its origin to be sought among loose and obscure traditions. The age of our early ancestors was, in many respects, eminent for learning and civilization. Our ancestors themselves were deeply versed in the knowledge and attainments of their period. Not only their motives and acts appear in the general histories of their time, but they are unfolded in their own writings, with a simplicity and boldness, at once commanding admiration and not permitting mistake. If this condition of things restrict the imagination in its natural tendency to exaggerate, it assists the judgment rightly to analyze, and justly to appreciate. If it deny the power, enjoyed by ancient cities and states, to elevate our ancestors above the condition of humanity, it confers a much more precious privilege, that of estimating by unequivocal standards the intellectual and moral greatness of the early, intervening, and passing periods; and thus of judging concerning comparative attainment and progress in those qualities which constitute the dignity of our species.

Instead of looking back, as antiquity was accustomed to do, on fabling legends of giants and heroes, — of men exceeding in size, in strength, and in labor, all experience and history, and, consequently, being obliged to contemplate the races of men dwindling with time, and growing less amid increasing stimulants and advantages; we are thus enabled to view things in lights more conformed to the natural suggestions of reason, and actual results of observation;— to witness improvement in its slow but sure progress; in a general advance, constant and unquestionable; — to pay due honors to the greatness and virtues of our early ancestors, and be, at the same time, just to the not inferior greatness and virtues of succeeding generations of men, their descendents and our progenitors.

Thus we substantiate the cheering conviction, that the virtues of ancient times have not been lost, or debased, in the course of their descent, but, in many respects, have been refined and elevated; and so, standing faithful to the generations which are past, and fearless in the presence of the generations to come, we accumulate on our own times the responsibility that an inheritance, which has descended to us enlarged and improved, shall not be transmitted by us diminished or deteriorated.

What then, in conclusion of this great topic, are the elements of the liberty, prosperity, and safety, which the inhabitants of New England at this day enjoy? In what language, and concerning what comprehensive truths, does the wisdom of former times address the inexperience of the future?

Those elements are simple, obvious, and familiar.

Every civil and religious blessing of New England, all that here gives happiness to human life, or security to human virtue, is alone to be perpetuated in the forms and under the auspices of a free commonwealth. The commonwealth itself has no other strength or hope, than the intelligence and virtue of the individuals that compose it. For the intelligence and virtue of individuals, there is no other human assurance than laws providing for the education of the whole people.

These laws themselves have no strength, or efficient sanction, except in the moral and accountable nature of man, disclosed in the records of the Christian’s faith; the right to read, to construe, and to judge concerning which, belongs to no class or cast of men, but exclusively to the individual, who must stand or fall by his own acts and his own faith, and not by those of another.

The great comprehensive truths, written in letters of living light on every page of our history, — the language addressed by every past age of New England to all future ages is this; — Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom!freedom none but virtue;virtue none but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has any vigor, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian faith and in the sanctions of the Christian religion.

As our thoughts course along the events of past times, from the hour of the first settlement of Boston to that in which we are now assembled, they trace the strong features of its character, indelibly impressed upon its acts and in its history; — clear conceptions of duty; bold vindications of right; readiness to incur dangers and meet sacrifices, in the maintenance of liberty, civil and religious. Early selected as the place of the chief settlement of New England, it has, through every subsequent period, maintained its relative ascendancy. In the arts of peace and in the energies of war, in the virtues of prosperity and adversity, in wisdom to plan and vigor to execute, in extensiveness of enterprise, success in accumulating wealth, and liberality in its distribution, its inhabitants, if not unrivalled, have not been surpassed, by any similar society of men. Through good report and evil report, its influence has, at all times, been so distinctly seen and acknowledged in events, and been so decisive on the destinies of the region of which it was the head, that the inhabitants of the adjoining colonies of a foreign nation early gave the name of this place to the whole country; and at this day, among their descendents, the people of the whole United States are distinguished by the name of “Bostonians.’

Amidst perils and obstructions, on the bleak side of the mountain on which it was first cast, the seedling oak, self-rooted, shot upward with a determined vigor. Now slighted and now assailed; amidst alternating sunshine and storm; with the axe of a native foe at its root, and the lightning of a foreign power, at times, scathing its top, or withering its branches, it grew, it flourished, it stands, —may it forever stand! — the honor of the field.

Our ancestors have left no Corinthian temples on our hills, no Gothic cathedrals on our plains, no proud pyramid, no storied obelisk, in our cities. But mind is there. Sagacious enterprise is there. An active, vigorous, intelligent, moral population throng our cities, and predominate in our fields; men patient of labor, submissive to law, respectful to authority, regardful of right, faithful to liberty. These are the monuments of our ancestors. They stand immutable and immortal, in the social, moral, and intellectual condition of their descendants. They exist, in the spirit which their precepts instilled, and their example implanted. Let no man think that to analyze, and place in a just light, the virtues of the first settlers of New England, is a departure from the purpose of this celebration; or deem so meanly of our duties, as to conceive that merely local relations, the circumstances which have given celebrity and character to this single city, are the only, or the most appropriate topics for the occasion. It was to this spot, during twelve successive years, that the great body of those first settlers emigrated. In this place, they either fixed permanently their abode, or took their departure from it for the coast, or the interior.

Whatever honor devolves on this metropolis from the events connected with its first settlement, is not solitary or exclusive; it is shared with Massachusetts; with New England; in some sense with the whole United States. For what part of this wide empire, be it sea or shore, lake or river, mountain or valley, have the descendants of the first settlers of New England not traversed? What depth of forest not penetrated? what danger of nature or man not defied? Where is the cultivated field, in redeeming which from the wilderness, their vigor has not been displayed? Where amid unsubdued nature, by the side of the first log-hut of the settler, does the school-house stand and the church-spire rise, unless the sons of New England are there? Where does improvement advance, under the active energy of willing hearts and ready hands, prostrating the moss-covered monarchs of the wood, and from their ashes, amid their charred roots, bidding the greensward and the waving harvest to upspring, and the spirit of the fathers of New England is not seen, hovering and shedding around the benign influences of sound social, moral, and religious institutions, stronger and more enduring than knotted oak or tempered steel? The swelling tide of their descendants has spread upon our coasts; ascended our rivers; taken possession of our plains. Already it encircles our lakes. At this hour the rushing noise of the advancing wave startles the wild beast in his lair among the prairies of the West. Soon it shall be seen climbing the Rocky mountains, and, as it dashes over their cliffs, shall be hailed by the dwellers on the Pacific,[Note:*] as the harbinger of the coming blessings of safety, liberty, and truth.

Note:* This, it will be recollected, was written some years before the gold discoveries in California.

 

The glory, which belongs to the virtues of our ancestors, is seen radiating from the nature of their design; —from the spirit in which it was executed; — and from the character of their institutions.

That emigration of Englishmen, which, two centuries ago, resulted in the settlement of this metropolis, was distinguished by the comparative greatness of the means employed, and the number, rank, fortune, and intellectual endowments of those engaged in it, as leaders or associates. Twelve ships, transporting somewhat less than nine hundred souls, constituted the physical strength of the first enterprise. In the course of the twelve succeeding years, twenty-two thousand souls emigrated in one hundred and ninety-two ships, at a cost, including the private expenses of the adventurers, which cannot be estimated, in our currency, at less than one million of dollars. At that time the tide of emigration was stayed. Intelligent writers of the last century assert that more persons had subsequently gone from New England to Europe, than had come to it during the same period from that quarter of the globe. A contemporary historian represents the leaders of the first emigration as ” gentlemen of good estate and reputation, descended from, or connected by marriage with, noble families ; having large means, and great yearly revenue, sufficient in all reason to content; their tables abundant in food, their coffers in coin; possessing beautiful houses, filled with rich furniture; gainful in their business, and growing rich daily; well provided for themselves, and having a sure competence for their children; wanting nothing of a worldly nature to complete the prospects of ease and enjoyment, or which could contribute to the pleasures, the prospects, or the splendors of life.”

The question forces itself on the mind. Why did such men emigrate? Why did men of their condition exchange a pleasant and prosperous home for a repulsive and cheerless wilderness? a civilized for a barbarous vicinity? why, quitting peaceful and happy dwellings, dare the dangers of tempestuous and unexplored seas, the rigors of untried and severe climates the difficulties of a hard soil, and the inhuman warfare of a savage foe? An answer must be sought in the character of the times; and in the spirit which the condition of their native country and age had a direct tendency to excite and cherish. The general civil and religious aspect of the English nation, in the age of our ancestors, and in that immediately preceding their emigration, was singularly hateful and repulsive A foreign hierarchy contending with a domestic despotism for infallibility and supremacy in matters of faith. Confiscation, imprisonment the axe and the stake, approved and customary means of making proselytes and promoting uniformity. The fires of Smithfield, now lighted by the corrupt and selfish Zeal of Roman pontiffs; and now rekindled by the no less corrupt and selfish zeal of English sovereigns. All men clamorous for the rights of conscience, when in subjection; all actively persecuting when in authority. Everywhere religion considered as a state entity, and having apparently no real existence, except in associations in support of established power, or in opposition to it.

The moral aspect of the age was not less odious than its civil. Every benign and characteristic virtue of Christianity was publicly conjoined, in close alliance, with its most offensive opposite. Humility wearing the tiara, and brandishing the keys, in the excess of the pride of temporal and spiritual power. The Roman pontiff, under the title of “the servant of servants,” with his foot on the neck of every monarch in Christendom; and under the seal of the fisherman of Galilee, dethroning kings and giving away kingdoms. Purity, content, and self-denial preached by men who held the wealth of Europe tributary to their luxury sensuality and spiritual pride. Brotherly love in the mouth, while the hand applied the instrument of torture. Charity, mutual forbearance and forgiveness chanted in unison with clanking chains and crackling fagots.

Nor was the intellectual aspect of the ageless repulsive than its civil and moral. The native charm of the religious feeling lost or disfigured amidst forms, and ceremonies, and disciplines. By one class, piety was identified with copes, and crosiers, and tippets, and genuflexions. By another class, all these are abhorred as the tricks and conjuring garments of popery, or, at best, in the language of Calvin, as tolerable fooleries ; while they, on their part, identified piety with looks, and language, and gestures extracted or typified from Scripture, and fashioned according to the newest “pattern of the mount.” By none were the rights of private judgment acknowledged. By all, creeds, and dogmas, and confessions and catechisms, collected from Scripture with metaphysical skill, arranged with reference to temporal power and influence, and erected into standards of faith, were made the flags and rallying points of the spiritual swordsmen of the church militant. .

The first emotion which this view of that period excites, at the present day, is contempt or disgust. But the men of that age are no more responsible for the mistakes into which they fell, under the circumstances in which the intellectual eye was then placed, than we, at this day, for those optical illusions to which the natural eye is subject, before time and experience have corrected the judgment and instructed it in the true laws of nature and vision. It was their fate to live in the crepuscular state of the intellectual day, and by the law of their nature they were compelled to see things darkly, through false and shifting mediums, and in lights at once dubious and deceptive. For centuries, a night of Egyptian darkness had overspread Europe, in the “palpable obscure” of which, priests and monarchs and nobles had not only found means to enthrall the minds of the multitude, but absolutely to loose and bewilder their own.

When the light of learning began to dawn, the first rays of the rising splendor dazzled and confused, rather than directed, the mind. As the coming light penetrated the thick darkness, the ancient cumulative cloud severed into new forms. Its broken masses became tinged with an uncertain and shifting radiance. Shadows assumed the aspect of substances; the evenescent suggestions of fancy, the look of fixed realities. The wise were at a loss what to believe, or what to discredit; how to quit and where to hold. On all sides sprang up sects and parties, infinite in number, incomprehensible in doctrine; often imperceptible in difference; yet each claiming for itself infallibility, and, in the sphere it affected to influence, supremacy; each violent and hostile to the others, haughty and hating its non-adhering brother, in a spirit wholly repugnant to the humility and love inculcated by that religion, by which each pretended to be actuated; and ready to resort, when it had power, to corporeal penalties, even to death itself, as allowed modes of self-defence and proselytism.

It was the fate of the ancestors of New England to have their lot cast in a state of society thus unprecedented. They were of that class of the English nation, in whom the systematic persecutions of a concentrated civil and ecclesiastical despotism had enkindled an intense interest concerning man’s social and religious rights. Their sufferings had created in their minds a vivid and inextinguishable love of civil and religious liberty; a fixed resolve, at every peril, to assert and maintain their natural rights. Among the boldest and most intelligent of this class of men, chiefly known by the name of Puritans, were the founders of this metropolis. To a superficial view, their zeal seems directed to forms and ceremonies and disciplines which have become, at this day, obsolete or modified, and so seems mistaken or misplaced. But the wisdom of zeal for any object is not to be measured by the particular nature of that object, but by the nature of the principle which the circumstances of the times, or of society, have identified with such object.

Liberty, whether civil or religious, is among the noblest objects of human regard. Yet, to a being constituted like man, abstract liberty has no existence, and over him no practical influence. To be for him an efficient principle of action, it must be embodied in some sensible object. Thus the form of a cap, the color of a surplice, ship-money, a tax on tea, or on stamped paper, objects in themselves indifferent, have been so inseparably identified with the principle temporarily connected with them, that martyrs have died at the stake, and patriots have fallen in the field, and this wisely and nobly, for the sake of the principle, made by the circumstances of the time to inhere in them.

Now in the age of our fathers, the principle of civil and religious liberty became identified with forms, disciplines, and modes of worship. The zeal of our fathers was graduated by the importance of the inhering principle. This gave elevation to that zeal. This creates interest in their sufferings. This entitles them to rank among patriots and martyrs, who have voluntarily sacrificed themselves to the cause of conscience and their country. Indignant at being denied the enjoyment of the rights of conscience, which were in that age identified with those sensible objects, and resolute to vindicate them, they quitted country and home, crossed the Atlantic, and, without other auspices than their own strength and their confidence in Heaven, they proceeded to lay the foundation of a commonwealth, under the principles and by the stamina of which, their posterity have established an actual and uncontroverted independence, not less happy than glorious. To their enthusiastic vision, all the comforts of life and all the pleasures of society were light and worthless in comparison with the liberty they sought. The tempestuous sea was less dreadful than the troubled waves of civil discord; the quicksands, the unknown shoals, and unexplored shores of a savage coast, less fearful than the metaphysical abysses and perpetually shifting whirlpools of despotic ambition and ecclesiastical policy and intrigue; the bow and the tomahawk of the transatlantic barbarian, less terrible than the flame and faggot of the civilized European. In the calm of our present peace and prosperity, it is difficult for us to realize or appreciate their sorrows and sacrifices. They sought a new world, lying far off in space, destitute of all the attractions which make home and native land dear and venerable. Instead of cultivated fields and a civilized neighborhood, the prospect before them presented nothing but dreary wastes, cheerless climates, and repulsive wildernesses, possessed by wild beasts and savages; the intervening ocean unexplored and intersected by the fleets of a hostile nation ; its usual dangers multiplied to the fancy, and in fact, by ignorance of real hazards, and natural fears of such as the event proved to be imaginary.

“Pass on” exclaims one of these adventurers, “and attend, while these soldiers of faith ship for this western world; while they and their wives and their little ones take an eternal leave of their country and kindred. With what heart-breaking affection did they press loved friends to their bosoms, whom they were never to see again! their voices broken by grief, till tears streaming eased their hearts to recovered speech again; natural affections clamorous as they take a perpetual banishment from their native soil; their enterprise scorned; their motives derided; and they counted but madmen and fools. But time shall discover the wisdom with which they were endued, and the sequel shall show how their policy overtopped all the human policy of this world.”

Winthrop, their leader and historian, in his simple narrative of the voyage, exhibits them, when in severe sufferings, resigned; in instant expectation of battle, fearless; amid storm, sickness, and death, calm, confident, and undismayed. “Our trust,” says he, “was in the Lord of hosts.” For years, Winthrop, the leader of the first great enterprise, was the chief magistrate of the infant metropolis. His prudence guided its councils. His valor directed its strength. His life and fortune were spent in fixing its character, or in improving its destinies. A bolder spirit never dwelt, a truer heart never beat, in any bosom. Had Boston, like Rome, a consecrated calendar, there is no name better entitled than that of Winthrop to be registered as its “patron saint.”

From Salem and Charlestown, the places of their first landing, they ranged the bay of Massachusetts, to fix the head of the settlement. After much deliberation, and not without opposition, they selected this spot; known to the natives by the name of Shawmut, and to the adjoining settlers by that of Trimountain; the former indicating the abundance and sweetness of its waters; the latter the peculiar character of its hills.

Accustomed as we are to the beauties of the place and its vicinity, and in the daily perception of the charms of its almost unrivalled scenery, — in the centre of a natural amphitheatre, whose sloping descents the riches of a laborious and intellectual cultivation adorn, — where hill and vale, river and ocean, island and continent, simple nature and unobtrusive art, with contrasted and interchanging harmonies, form a rich and gorgeous landscape, we are little able to realize the almost repulsive aspect of its original state. We wonder at the blindness of those, who, at one time, constituted the majority, and had well nigh fixed elsewhere the chief seat of the settlement. Nor are we easily just to Winthrop, Johnson, and their associates, whose skill and judgment selected this spot, and whose firmness settled the wavering minds of the multitude upon it, as the place for their metropolis; a decision, which the experience of two centuries has irrevocably justified, and which there is no reason to apprehend that the events or opinions of any century to come will reverse.

To the eyes of the first emigrants, however, where now exists a dense and aggregated mass of living beings and material things, amid all the accommodations of life, the splendors of wealth, the delights of taste, and whatever can gratify the cultivated intellect, there were then only a few hills, which, when the ocean receded, were intersected by wide marshes, and when its tide returned, appeared a group of lofty islands, abruptly rising from the surrounding waters. Thick forests concealed the neighboring hills, and the deep silence of nature was broken only by the voice of the wild beast or bird, and the war whoop of the savage.

The advantages of the place were, however, clearly marked by the hand of nature; combining at once present convenience, future security, and an ample basis for permanent growth and prosperity. Towards the continent it possessed but a single avenue, and that easily fortified. Its hills then commanded, not only its own waters, but the hills of the vicinity. At the bottom of a deep bay, its harbor was capable of containing the .proudest navy of Europe; yet, locked by islands and guarded by winding channels, it presented great difficulty of access to strangers, and, to the inhabitants, great facility of protection against maritime invasion; while to those acquainted with its waters, it was both easy and accessible. To these advantages were added goodness and plenteousness of water, and the security afforded by that once commanding height, now, alas! obliterated and almost forgotten, since art and industry have levelled the predominating mountain of the place; from whose lofty and imposing top the beacon-fire was accustomed to rally the neighboring population, on any threatened danger to the metropolis. A single cottage, from which ascended the smoke of the hospitable hearth of Blackstone, who had occupied the peninsula several years, was the sole civilized mansion in the solitude; the kind master of which, at first, welcomed the coming emigrants; but soon, disliking the sternness of their manners and the severity of their discipline, abandoned the settlement. His rights as first occupant were recognized by our ancestors; and in November, 1634, Edmund Quincy, Samuel Wildbore, and others were authorized to assess a rate of thirty pounds for Mr. Blackstone, on the payment of which all local rights in the peninsula became vested in its inhabitants.

The same bold spirit which thus led our ancestors across the Atlantic, and made them prefer a wilderness where liberty might be enjoyed to civilized Europe where it was denied, will be found characterizing all their institutions. Of these the limits of the time permit me to speak only in general terms. The scope of their policy has been usually regarded as though it were restricted to the acquisition of religious liberty in the relation of colonial dependence. No man, however, can truly understand their institutions and the policy on which they were founded, without taking as the basis of all reasonings concerning them, that civil independence was as truly their object as religious liberty; in other words, that the possession of the former was, in their opinion, the essential means, indispensable to the secure enjoyment of the latter, which was their great end.

The master passion of our early ancestors was dread of the English hierarchy. To place themselves, locally, beyond the reach of its power, they resolved to emigrate. To secure themselves after their emigration, from the arm of this their ancient oppressor, they devised a plan, which, as they thought, would enable them to establish, under a nominal subjection, an actual independence. The bold and original conception, which they had the spirit to form and successfully to execute, was the attainment and perpetuation of religious liberty, under the auspices of a free commonwealth. This is the master-key to all their policy, — this the glorious spirit which breathes in all their institutions. Whatever in them is stern, exclusive, or at this day seems questionable, may be accounted for, if not justified, by its connection with this great purpose.

The question has often been raised, when and by whom the idea of independence of the parent state was first conceived, and by whose act a settled purpose to effect it was first indicated. History does not permit the people of Massachusetts to make a question of this kind. The honor of that thought, and of as efficient a declaration of it as in their circumstances was possible, belongs to Winthrop, and Dudley, and Saltonstall, and their associates, and was included in the declaration, that ” THE ONLY CONDITION ON WHICH THEY WITH THEIR FAMILIES WOULD REMOVE TO THIS COUNTRY, WAS, THAT THE PATENT AND CHARTER SHOULD REMOVE WITH THEM.”

This simple declaration and resolve included, as they had the sagacity to perceive, all the consequences of an effectual independence, under a nominal subjection. For protection against foreign powers, a charter from the parent state was necessary. Its transfer to New England vested, effectually, independence. Those wise leaders foresaw, that, among the troubles in Europe, incident to the age, and then obviously impending over their parent state, their settlement, from its distance and early insignificance, would probably escape notice. They trusted to events, and doubtless anticipated, that, with its increasing strength, even nominal subjection would be abrogated. They knew that weakness was the law of nature in the relation between parent states and their distant and detached colonies. Nothing else can be inferred, not only from their making the transfer of the charter the essential condition of their emigration, thereby saving themselves from all responsibility to persons abroad, but also from their instant and undeviating course of policy after their emigration; in boldly assuming whatever powers were necessary to their condition, or suitable to their ends, whether attributes of sovereignty or not, without regard to the nature of the consequences resulting from the exercise of those powers,

Nor was this assumption limited to powers which might be deduced from the charter, but was extended to such as no act of incorporation, like that which they possessed, could, by any possibility of legal construction, be deemed to include. By the magic of their daring, a private act of incorporation was transmuted into a civil constitution of state ; under the authority of which they made peace and declared war; erected judicatures; coined money; raised armies; built fleets; laid taxes and imposts; inflicted fines, penalties, and death; and in imitation of the British constitution, by the consent of all its own branches, without asking leave of any other, their legislature modified its own powers and relations, prescribed the qualifications of those who should conduct its authority, and enjoy or be excluded from its privileges.

The administration of the civil affairs of Massachusetts, for the sixty years next succeeding the settlement of this metropolis, was a phenomenon in the history of civil government. Under a theoretic colonial relation, an efficient and independent Commonwealth was erected, claiming and exercising attributes of sovereignty, higher and far more extensive than, at the present day, in consequence of its connection with the general government, Massachusetts pretends either to exercise or possess. Well might Chalmers asserts, as in his Political Annals of the Colonies he does, that “Massachusetts, with a peculiar dexterity, abolished her charter “; that she was always “fruitful in projects of independence, the principles of which, at all times, governed her actions.” In this point of view, it is glory enough for our early ancestors, that, under manifold disadvantages, in the midst of internal discontent and external violence and intrigue, of wars with the savages and with the neighboring colonies of France, they effected their purpose, and for two generations of men, from 1630 to 1692, enjoyed liberty of conscience, according to their view of that subject, under the auspices of a free commonwealth.

The three objects, which our ancestors proposed to attain and perpetuate by all their institutions, were the noblest within the grasp of the human mind, and those on which, more than on any other, depend human happiness and hope; — religious liberty, civil liberty, and, as essential to the attainment and maintenance of both, intellectual power.

On the subject of religious liberty, their intolerance of other sects has been reprobated as an inconsistency, and as violating the very rights of conscience for which they emigrated. The inconsistency, if it exist, is altogether constructive, and the charge proceeds on a false assumption. The necessity of the policy, considered in connection with their great design of independence, is apparent. They had abandoned house and home, had sacrificed the comforts of kindred and cultivated life, had dared the dangers of the sea, and were then braving the still more appalling terrors of the wilderness; for what? —to acquire liberty for all sorts of consciences? Not so; but to vindicate and maintain the liberty of their own consciences. They did not cross the Atlantic on a crusade in behalf of the rights of mankind in general, but in support of their own rights and liberties. Tolerate! Tolerate whom? The legate of the Roman Pontiff, or the emissary of Charles the First and Archbishop Laud? How consummate would have been their folly and madness, to have fled into the wilderness to escape the horrible persecutions of those hierarchies, and at once have admitted into the bosom of their society, men brandishing, and ready to apply, the very flames and fetters from which they had fled! Those who are disposed to condemn them on this account, neither realize the necessities of their condition, nor the prevailing character of the times. Under the stern discipline of Elizabeth and James, the stupid bigotry of the First Charles, and the spiritual pride of Archbishop Laud, the spirit of the English hierarchy was very different from that which it assumed, when, after having been tamed and humanized under the wholesome discipline of Cromwell and his Commonwealth, it yielded itself to the mild influence of the principles of 1688, and to the liberal spirit of Tillotson.

But, it is said, if they did not tolerate their ancient persecutors, they might, at least, have tolerated rival sects. That is, they ought to have tolerated sects imbued with the same principles of intolerance as the transatlantic hierarchies; sects, whose first use of power would have been to endeavor to uproot the liberty of our fathers, and persecute them, according to the known principles of sectarian action, with a virulence in the inverse ratio of their reciprocal likeness and proximity. Those who thus reason and thus condemn, have considered but very superficially the nature of the human mind and its actual condition in the time of our ancestors.

The great doctrine, now so universally recognized, that liberty of conscience is the right of the individual, — a concern between every man and his Maker, with which the civil magistrate is not authorized to interfere, — was scarcely, in their day, known, except in private theory and solitary speculation ; as a practical truth, to be acted upon by the civil power, it was absolutely and universally rejected by all men, all parties, and all sects, as totally subversive, not only of the peace of the church, but of the peace of society. That great truth, now deemed so simple and plain, was so far from being an easy discovery of the human intellect, that it may be doubted whether it would ever have been discovered by human reason at all. had it not been for the miseries in which man was involved in consequence of his ignorance of it. That truth was not evolved by the calm exertion of the human faculties, but was stricken out by the collision of the human passions. It was not the result of philosophic research, but was a hard lesson, taught under the lash of a severe discipline, provided for the gradual instruction of a being like man, not easily brought into subjection to virtue, and with natural propensities to pride, ambition, avarice, and selfishness.

Previously to that time, in all modifications of society, ancient or modern, religion had been seen only in close connection with the State. It was the universal instrument by which worldly ambition shaped and molded the multitude to its ends. To have attempted the establishment of a state on the basis of a perfect freedom of religious opinion, and the perfect right of every man to express his opinion, would then have been considered as much a solecism, and an experiment quite as wild and visionary, as it would be, at this day, to attempt the establishment of a state on the principle of a perfect liberty of individual action, and the perfect right of every man to conduct himself according to his private will. Had our early ancestors adopted the course we, at this day, are apt to deem so easy and obvious, and placed their government on the basis of liberty for all sorts of consciences, it would have been, in that age, a certain introduction of anarchy. It cannot be questioned, that all the fond hopes they had cherished from emigration would have been lost. The agents of Charles and James would have planted here the standard of the transatlantic monarchy and hierarchy. Divided and broken, without practical energy, subject to court influences and court favorites, New England at this day would have been a colony of the parent state, her character yet to be formed and her independence yet to be vindicated. Lest the consequences of an opposite policy, had it been adopted by our ancestors, may seem to be exaggerated, as here represented, it is proper to state, that upon the strength and united spirit of New England mainly depended (under Heaven) the success of our revolutionary struggle. Had New England been divided, or even less unanimous, independence would have scarcely been attempted, or, if attempted, acquired. It will give additional strength to this argument to observe, that the number of troops, regular and militia, furnished by all the States during the war of the revolution, was . . . . . . 288,134

Of these New England furnished more than half, viz. . . 147,674

And Massachusetts alone furnished nearly one third, viz. . [Note:*] 83,162

Note:* See “Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society,” Vol. I.

The non-toleration which characterized our early ancestors, from whatever source it may have originated, had undoubtedly the effect they intended and wished. It excluded from influence in their infant settlement all the friends and adherents of the ancient monarchy and hierarchy; all who, from any motive, ecclesiastical or civil, were disposed to disturb their peace or their churches. They considered it a measure of “self-defence,” And it is unquestionable, that it was chiefly instrumental in forming the homogeneous and exclusively republican character, for which the people of New-England have, in all times, been distinguished; and, above all, that it fixed irrevocably in the country that noble security for religious liberty, the independent system of church government.

The principle of the independence of the churches, including the right of every individual to unite with what church he pleases, under whatever sectarian auspices it may have been fostered, has through the influence of time and experience, lost altogether its exclusive character. It has become the universal guaranty of religious liberty to all sects without discrimination, and is as much the protector of the Roman Catholic, the Episcopalian, and the Presbyterian, as of the Independent form of worship. The security, which results from this principle, does not depend upon charters and constitutions, but on what is stronger than either, the nature of the principle in connection with the nature of man. So long as this intellectual, moral, and religious being, man, is constituted as he is, the unrestricted liberty of associating for public worship, and the independence of those associations of external control, will necessarily lead to a most happy number and variety of them. In the principle of the independence of each, the liberty of individual conscience is safe under the panoply of the common interest of all. No other perfect security for liberty of conscience was ever devised by man, except this independence of the churches. This possessed, liberty of conscience has no danger. This denied, it has no safety. There can be no greater human security than common right, placed under the protection of common interest. It is the excellence and beauty of this simple principle, that, while it secures all, it restricts none. They, who delight in lofty and splendid monuments of ecclesiastical architecture, may raise the pyramid of church power, with its aspiring steps and gradations, until it terminate in the despotism of one, or a few; the humble dwellers at the base of the proud edifice may wonder, and admire the ingenuity of the contrivance and the splendor of its massive dimensions, but it is without envy and without fear. Safe in the principle of independence, they worship, be it in tent, or tabernacle, or in the open air, as securely as though standing on the topmost pinnacle of the loftiest fabric ambition ever devised.

The glory of discovering and putting this principle to the test, on a scale capable of trying its efficacy, belongs to the fathers of Massachusetts, who are entitled to a full share of that acknowledgment made by Hume, when he asserts, ” that for all the liberty of the English constitution, that nation is indebted to the Puritans.”

The glory of our ancestors radiates from no point more strongly than from their institutions of learning. The people of New England are the first known to history, who provided, in the original constitution of their society, for the education of the whole population out of the general fund. In other countries, provisions have been made of this character in favor of certain particular classes, or for the poor by way of charity. But here first were the children of the whole community invested with the right of being educated at the expense of the whole society; and not only this, — the obligation to take advantage of that right was enforced by severe supervision and penalties. By simple laws they founded their commonwealth on the only basis on which a republic has any hope of happiness or continuance, the general information, of the people. They denominated it barbarism not to be able “perfectly to read the English tongue and to know the general laws.” In soliciting a general contribution for the support of the neighboring University, they declare that “skill in the tongues and liberal arts is not only laudable, but necessary for the well-being of the commonwealth.” And in requiring every town having one hundred householders, to set up a Grammar School, provided with a master able to fit youth for the University, the object avowed is, “to enable men to obtain a knowledge of the Scriptures, and by acquaintance with the ancient tongues to qualify them to discern the true sense and meaning of the original, however corrupted by false glosses.” Thus liberal and thus elevated, in respect of learning, were the views of our ancestors.

To the same master passion, dread of the English hierarchy, and the same main purpose, civil independence, may be attributed in a great degree, the nature of the government which the principal civil and spiritual influences of the time established, and, notwithstanding its many objectionable features, the willing submission to it of the people.

It cannot be questioned that the constitution of the State, as sketched in the first laws of our ancestors, was a skillful combination of both civil and ecclesiastical powers. Church and state were very curiously and efficiently interwoven with each other. It is usual to attribute to religious bigotry the submission of the mass of the people to a system thus stern and exclusive. It may, however, with quite as much justice, be resolved into love and independence and political sagacity.

The great body of the first emigrants doubtless coincided in general religious views with those whose influence predominated in their church and state. They had consequently no personal objection to the stern discipline their political system established. They had also the sagacity to foresee that a system which by its rigor should exclude from power all who did not concur with their religious views, would have a direct tendency to deter those in other countries from emigrating to their settlement, who did not agree with the general plan of policy they had adopted, and of consequence to increase the probability of their escape from the interference of their ancient oppressors, and the chance of success in laying the foundation of the free commonwealth they contemplated. They also doubtless perceived, that with the unqualified possession of the elective franchise, they had little reason to apprehend that they could not easily control or annihilate any ill effect upon their political system, arising from the union of church and state, should it become insupportable.

There is abundant evidence that the submission of the people to this new form of church and state combination was not owing to ignorance, or to indifference to the true principles of civil and religious liberty. Notwithstanding the strong attachment of the early emigrants to their civil, and their almost blind devotion lo their ecclesiastical leaders, when either, presuming on their influence. attempted any thing inconsistent with general liberty, a corrective is seen almost immediately applied by the spirit and intelligence of the people.

In this respect, the character of the people of Boston has been at all times distinguished. In every period of our history, they have been second to none in quickness to discern or in readiness to meet every exigency, fearlessly hazarding life and fortune in support of the liberties of the commonwealth. It would be easy to maintain these positions by a recurrence to the annals of each successive age, and particularly to facts connected with our revolutionary struggle. A few instances only will be noticed, and those selected from the earliest times.

A natural jealousy soon sprung up in the metropolis as to the intentions of their civil and ecclesiastical leaders. In 1634 the people began to fear, lest, by reelecting Winthrop, they “should make way for a Governor for life.” They accordingly gave some indications of a design to elect another person. Upon which John Cotton, their great ecclesiastical head, then at the height of his popularity, preached a discourse to the General Court, and delivered this doctrine: “that a magistrate ought not to be turned out, without just cause, no more than a magistrate might turn out a private man from his freehold, without trial.” To show their dislike of the doctrine by the most practical of evidences, our ancestors gave the political divine and his adherents a succession of lessons, for which they were probably the wiser all the rest of their lives. They turned out Winthrop at the very same election, and put in Dudley. The year after, they turned out Dudley and put in Haynes. The year after, they turned out Haynes and put in Vane. So much for the first broaching, in Boston, of the doctrine that public office is of the nature of freehold.

In 1635, an attempt was made by the General Court to elect a certain number of magistrates as councillors for life. Although Cotton was the author also of this project, and notwithstanding his influence, yet such was the spirit displayed by our ancestors on the occasion, that within three years the General Court was compelled to pass a vote, denying any such intent, and declaring that the persons so chosen should not be accounted magistrates or have any authority in consequence of such election. *

In 1636, the great Antinomian controversy divided the country. Boston was for the covenant of grace; the General Court for the covenant of works. Under pretence of the apprehension of a riot, the General Court adjourned to Newtown, and expelled the Boston deputies for daring to remonstrate. Boston, indignant at this infringement of its liberties, was about electing the same deputies a second time. At the earnest solicitation of Cotton, however, they chose others. One of these was also expelled by the Court; and a writ having issued to the town ordering a new election, they refused making any return to the warrant, – a contempt which the General Court did not think it wise to resent.

In 1639, there being vacancies in the Board of Assistants, the governor and magistrates met and nominated three persons, “not with intent,” as they said, “to lead the people’s choice of these, nor to divert them from any other, but only to propound for consideration (which any freeman may do), and so leave the people to use their liberties according to their consciences.” The result was, that the people did use their liberties according to their consciences. They chose not a man of them. So much for the first legislative caucus in our history. It probably would have been happy for their posterity, if the people had always treated like nominations with as little ceremony.

About this time also the General Court took exception at the length of the “lectures,” then the great delight of the people, and at the ill effects resulting from their frequency; whereby poor people were led greatly to neglect their affairs; to the great hazard also of their health, owing to their long continuance in the night . Boston expressed strong dislike at this interference, “fearing that the precedent might enthrall them to the civil power, and, besides, be a blemish upon them with their posterity, as though they needed to be regulated by the civil magistrate, and raise an ill-savor of their coldness, as if it were possible for the people of Boston to complain of too much preaching.”

The magistrates, fearful lest the people should break their bonds, were content to apologize, to abandon the scheme of shortening lectures or diminishing their number, and to rest satisfied with a general understanding that assemblies should break up in such season as that people, dwelling a mile or two off, might get home by daylight. Winthrop, on this occasion, passes the following eulogium on the people of Boston, which every period of their history amply confirms: — “They were generally of that understanding and moderation, as that they would be easily guided in their way by any rule from Scripture or sound reason.”

It is curious and instructive to trace the principles of our constitution, as they were successively suggested by circumstances, and gradually gained by the intelligence and daring spirit of the people. For the first four years after their emigration, the freemen, like other corporations, met and transacted business in a body. At this time the people attained a representation under the name of deputies, who sat in the same room with the magistrates, to whose negative all their proceedings were subjected. Next arose the struggle about the negative, which lasted for ten years, and eventuated in the separation of the General Court into two branches, with each a negative on the other. Then came the jealousy of the deputies concerning the magistrates, as proceeding too much by their discretion for want of positive laws, and-the demand by the deputies that persons should be appointed to frame a body of fundamental laws in resemblance of the English Magna Charta.

After this occurred the controversy relative to the powers of the magistrates, during the recess of the General Court; concerning which, when the deputies found that no compromise could be made, and the magistrates declared that, ” if occasion required, they should act according to the power and trust committed to them,” the speaker of the House in his place replied, — ” Then, Gentlemen, You Will Not Re Obeyed.”

In every period of our early history, the friends of the ancient hierarchy and monarchy were assiduous in their endeavors to introduce a form of government on the principle of an efficient colonial relation. Our ancestors were no less vigilant to avail themselves of their local situation and of the difficulties of the parent state to defeat those attempts; — or, in their language, ” to avoid and protract.” They lived, however, under a perpetual apprehension that a royal governor would be imposed upon them by the law of force. Their resolution never faltered on the point of resistance, to the extent of their power. Notwithstanding Boston would have been the scene of the struggle, and the first victim to it, yet its inhabitants never shrunk from their duty through fear of danger, and were always among the foremost to prepare for every exigency. Castle Island was fortified chiefly, and the battery at the north end of the town, and that called the ” Sconce,” wholly, by the voluntary contributions of its inhabitants. After the restoration of Charles the Second, their instructions to their representatives in the General Court breathe one uniform spirit, — “not to recede from their just rights and privileges as secured by the patent.” When, in 1662, the king’s commissioners came to Boston, the inhabitants, to show their spirit in support of their own laws, took measures to have them all. arrested for a breach of the Saturday evening law; and actually brought them before the magistrate for riotous and abusive carriage. When Randolph, in 1684, came with his quo warranto against their charter, on the question being taken in town meeting, ” whether the freemen were, minded that the General Court should make full submission and entire resignation of their charter, and of the privileges therein granted, to his Majesty’s pleasure,” — Boston resolved in the negative, without a dissentient.

In 1689, the tyranny of Andros, the governor appointed by James the Second, having become insupportable to the whole country, Boston rose, like one man; took the battery on Fort Hill by assault in open day; made prisoners of the king’s governor, and the captain of the king’s frigate, then lying in the harbor; and restored, with the concurrence of the country, the authority of the old charter leaders.

By accepting the charter of William and Mary, in 1692, the people of Massachusetts first yielded their claims of independence to the crown. It is only requisite to read the official account of the agents of the colony, to perceive both the resistance they made to that charter, and the necessity which compelled their acceptance of it. Those agents were told by the king’s ministers, that they “must take that or none “; — that ” their consent to it was not asked “; —that if “they would not submit to the king’s pleasure, they must take what would follow.” “The opinion of our lawyers,” says the agents, “was, that a passive submission to the new, was not a surrender of the old charter; and that their taking up with this did not make the people of Massachusetts, in law, uncapable of obtaining all their old privileges, whenever a favorable opportunity should present itself ” In the year 1776, nearly a century afterwards, that ” favorable opportunity did present itself,” and the people of Massachusetts, in conformity with the opinion of their learned counsel and faithful agents, did vindicate and obtain all their “old privileges” of self-government.

Under the new colonial government, thus authoritatively imposed upon them, arose new parties and new struggles;—prerogative men, earnest for a permanent salary for the king’s governor; — patriots, resisting such an establishment, and indignant at the negative exercised by that officer.

At the end of the first century after the settlement, three generations of men had passed away. For vigor, boldness, enterprise, and a self-sacrificing spirit, Massachusetts stood unrivalled. She had added wealth and extensive dominion to the English crown. She had turned a barren wilderness into a cultivated field, and instead of barbarous tribes had planted civilized communities. She had prevented France from taking possession of the whole of North America; conquered Port Royal and Acadia; and attempted the conquest of Canada with a fleet of thirty-two sail and two thousand men. At one time a fifth of her whole effective male population was in arms. When Nevis was plundered by Iberville, she voluntarily transmitted two thousand pounds sterling for the relief of the inhabitants of that island. By these exertions her resources were exhausted, her treasury was impoverished, and she stood bereft, and “alone with her glory.”

Boston shared in the embarrassments of the commonwealth. Her commerce was crippled by severe revenue laws, and by a depreciated currency. Her population did not exceed .fifteen thousand. In September, 1730, she was prevented from all notice of this anniversary by the desolations of the small-pox.

Notwithstanding the darkness of these’ clouds which overhung Massachusetts and its metropolis at the close of the first century, in other aspects the dawn of a brighter day may be discerned. The exclusive policy in matters of religion, to which the state had been subjected, began gradually to give place to a more perfect liberty. Literature was exchanging subtile metaphysics, quaint conceits, and unwieldy lore, for inartificial reasoning, simple taste, and natural thought. Dummer defended the colony in language polished in the society of Pope and of Bolingbroke. Coleman, Cooper, Chauncy, Bowdoin, and others of that constellation, were on the horizon. By their side shone the star of Franklin; its early brightness giving promise of its meridian splendors. Even now began to appear signs of revolution. Voices of complaint and murmur were heard in the air. “Spirits- finely touched and to fine issues,” — willing and fearless, — breathing unutterable things, flashed along the darkness. In the sky were seen streaming lights, indicating the approach of luminaries yet below the horizon; Adams, Hancock, Otis, Warren; leaders of a glorious host; —precursors of eventful times; “with fear of- change perplexing monarchs.”

It would be appropriate, did space permit, to speak of these luminaries, in connection. with our. revolution; to trace the principles, which dictated the first emigration of the founders of this metropolis, through the several stages of their development; and to show that the Declaration of Independence, in 1776, itself, and all the struggles which preceded it, and all the voluntary sacrifices, the self-devotion, and the sufferings to which the people of that day submitted, for the attainment of independence, were, so far as-respects Massachusetts, but the natural and inevitable consequences of the terms of that noble engagement, made by our ancestors, in August, 1629, the year before their emigration; — which may well be denominated, from its early and later results, the first and original declaration of independence by Massachusetts.

“By God’s assistance, ice will be ready in our persons, and with such of our families as are to go with us, to embark for the said plantation by the first of March next, to pass the seas (under God’s protection) to inhabit and continue in New England. Provided always, that before the last of September next, THE WHOLE GOVERNMENT, TOGETHER WITH THE PATENT, BE FIRST LEGALLY TRANSFERRED AND ESTABLISHED, TO REMAIN WITH US AND OTHERS, WHICH SHALL INHABIT THE SAID PLANTATION.” — Generous resolution! Noble foresight! Sublime self-devotion; chastened and directed by a wisdom, faithful and prospective of distant consequences! Well may we exclaim,— ” This policy overtopped all the policy of this world.”

For the advancement of the three great objects which were the scope of the policy of our ancestors, — intellectual power, religious liberty, and civil liberty, — Boston has in no period been surpassed, either in readiness to incur, or in energy to make useful, personal or pecuniary sacrifices. She provided for the education of her citizens out of the general fund, antecedently to the law of the Commonwealth making such provision imperative. Nor can it be questioned that her example and influence had a decisive effect in producing that law. An intelligent generosity has been conspicuous among her inhabitants on this subject, from the day when, in 1635, they “entreated our brother Philemon Pormont to become school master, for the teaching and nurturing children with us,” to this hour, when what is equivalent to a capital of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars is invested in school-houses, eighty schools are maintained, and seven thousand and five hundred children educated at an expense exceeding annually sixty-five thousand dollars.

No city in the world, in proportion to its means and population, ever gave more uniform and unequivocal evidences of its desire to diffuse intellectual power and moral culture through the whole mass of the community. The result is every day witnessed, at home and abroad, in private intercourse and in the public assembly; in a quiet and orderly demeanor, in the self-respect and mutual harmony prevalent among its citizens; in the general comfort which characterizes their condition; in their submission to the laws; and in that wonderful capacity for self government which postponed, for almost two centuries, a city organization;—and this, even then, was adopted more with reference to anticipated, than from experience of existing, evils. During the whole of that period, and even after its population exceeded fifty thousand, its financial, economical, and municipal interests were managed, either by general vote, or by men appointed by the whole multitude; and with a regularity, wisdom, and success, which it will be happy if future administrations shall equal, and which certainly they will find it difficult to exceed. The influence of the institutions of our fathers is also apparent in that munificence towards objects of public interest or charity, for which, in every period of its history, the citizens of Boston have been distinguished, and which, by universal consent, is recognized to be a prominent feature in their character. To no city has Boston ever been second in its spirit of liberality. From the first settlement of the country to this day, it has been a point to which have tended applications for assistance or relief, on account of suffering or misfortune; for the patronage of colleges, the endowment of schools, the erection of churches, and the spreading of learning and religion,— from almost every section of the United States. Seldom have the hopes of any worthy applicant been disappointed. The benevolent and public spirit of its inhabitants is also evidenced by its hospitals, its asylums, public libraries, alms-houses, charitable associations, — in its patronage of the neighboring University, and in its subscriptions for general charities.

It is obviously impracticable to give any just idea of the amount of these charities. They flow from virtues which seek the shade and shun record. They are silent and secret out-wellings of grateful hearts, desirous unostentatiously to acknowledge the bounty of Heaven in their prosperity and abundance. The result of inquiries, necessarily imperfect, however, authorize the statement, that, in the records of societies having for their objects either learning or some public charity, or in documents in the hands of individuals relative to contributions for the relief of suffering, or the patronage of distinguished merit or talent, there exists evidence of the liberality of the citizens of this metropolis, and that chiefly within the last thirty years, of an amount, by voluntary donation or bequest, exceeding one million and eight hundred thousand dollars. Far short as this sum falls of the real amount obtained within that period from the liberality of our citizens, it is yet enough to make evident that the best spirit of the institutions of our ancestors survives in the hearts, and is exhibited in the lives, of the citizens of Boston; inspiring love of country and duty; stimulating to the active virtues of benevolence and charity; exciting wealth and power to their best exercises; counteracting what is selfish in our nature; and elevating the moral and social virtues to wise sacrifices and noble energies.

With respect to religious liberty, where does it exist in a more perfect state than in this metropolis? Or where has it ever been enjoyed in. a purer spirit, or with happier consequences? In what city of equal population are all classes of society more distinguished for obedience to the institutions of religion, for regular attendance on its worship, for more happy intercourse with its ministers, or more uniformly honorable support of them? In all struggles connected with religious liberty, and these are inseparable from its possession, it may be said of the inhabitants of this city, as truly as of any similar association of men, that they have ever maintained the freedom of the Gospel in the spirit of Christianity. Divided into various sects, their mutual intercourse has, almost without exception, been harmonious and respectful. The labors of intemperate zealots, with which, occasionally, every age has been troubled, have seldom, in this metropolis, been attended with their natural and usual consequences. Its sects have never been made to fear or hate one another. The genius of its inhabitants, through the influence of the intellectual power which pervades their mass, has ever been quick to detect “close ambition varnished o’er with zeal.” The modes, the forms, the discipline, the opinions which our ancestors held to be essential, have, in many respects, been changed or obliterated with the progress of time, or been countervailed or superseded by rival forms and opinions.

But veneration for the sacred Scriptures and attachment to the right of free inquiry, which were the substantial motives of their emigration and of all their institutions, remain, and are maintained in a Christian spirit (judging by life and language), certainly not exceeded in the times of any of our ancestors. The right to read those Scriptures is universally recognized. The means to acquire the possession and to attain the knowledge of them are multiplied by the intelligence and liberality of the age, and extended to every class of society. All men are invited to search for themselves concerning the grounds of their hopes of future happiness and acceptance. All are permitted to hear from the lips of our Saviour himself, that “the meek,” “the merciful,” “the pure in heart,” “the persecuted for righteousness’ sake,” are those who shall receive the blessing, and be admitted to the presence, of the Eternal Father; and to be assured from those sacred records, that, ” in every nation, he who feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” Elevated by the power of these sublime assurances, as conformable to reason as to revelation, man’s intellectual principle rises “above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,” and, like an eagle soaring above the Andes, looks down on the cloudy cliffs, the narrow, separating points, and flaming craters, which divide and terrify men below.

It is scarcely necessary to speak of civil liberty, or tell of our constitutions of government; of the freedom they maintain and are calculated to preserve; of the equality they establish; the self-respect they encourage ; the private and domestic virtues they cherish; the love of country they inspire; the self-devotion and self-sacrifice they enjoin ; —all these are but the filling up of the great outline sketched by our fathers, the parts in which, through the darkness and perversity of their times, they were defective, being corrected; all are but endeavors, conformed to their great, original conception, to group together the strength of society and the religious and civil rights of the individual, in a living and breathing spirit of efficient power, by forms of civil government, adapted to our condition, and adjusted to social relations of unexampled greatness and extent, unparalleled in their results, and connected by principles elevated as the nature of man, and immortal as his destinies.

It is not, however, from local position, nor from general circumstances of life and fortune, that the peculiar felicity of this metropolis is to be deduced. Her enviable distinction is, that she is among the chiefest of that happy New England family, which claims descent from the early emigrants. If we take a survey of that family, and, excluding from our view the unnumbered multitudes of its members who have occupied the vacant wilderness of other states, we restrict our thoughts to the local sphere of New England, what scenes open upon our sight! How wild and visionary would seem our prospects, did we indulge only natural anticipations of the future! Already, on an area of seventy thousand square miles, a population of two millions; all, but comparatively a few, descendants of the early emigrants! Six independent Commonwealths, with constitutions varying in the relations and proportions of power, yet uniform in all their general principles; diverse in their political arrangements, yet each sufficient for its own necessities; all harmonious with those without, and peaceful within; embracing under the denomination, of towns, upwards of twelve hundred effective republics, with qualified powers, indeed, but possessing potent influences; subject themselves to the respective state sovereignties, yet directing all their operations, and shaping their policy by constitutional agencies ; swayed, no less than the greater republics, by passions, interests, and affections; like them, exciting competitions which rouse, into action the latent energies of mind, and infuse into the mass of each society a knowledge of the nature of its interests, and a capacity to understand and share in the defence of those of the Commonwealth. The effect of these minor republics is daily seen in the existence of practical talents, and in the readiness with which those talents can be called into the public service of the state.

If, after this general survey of the surface of New England, we cast our eyes on its cities and great towns, with what wonder should we behold, did not familiarity render the phenomenon almost unnoticed, men, combined in great multitudes, possessing freedom and the consciousness of strength, —the comparative physical power of the ruler less than that of a cobweb across a lion’s path, —yet orderly, obedient, and respectful to authority; a people, but no populace ; every class in reality existing, which the general law of society acknowledges, except one, — and this exception characterizing the whole country. The soil of New England is trodden by no slave. In our streets, in our assemblies, in the halls of election and legislation, men of every rank and condition meet, and unite or divide on other principles, and are actuated by other motives, than those growing out of such distinctions. The fears and jealousies, which in other countries separate classes of men and make them hostile to each other, have here no influence, or a very limited one. Each individual, of whatever condition, has the consciousness of living under known laws, which secure equal rights, and guarantee to each whatever portion of the goods of life, be it great or small, chance, or talent, or industry may have bestowed. All perceive that the honors and rewards of society are open equally to the fair competition of all; that the distinctions of wealth, or of power, are not fixed in families; that whatever of this nature exists to-day, may be changed to-morrow, or, in a coming generation be absolutely reversed. Common principles, interests, hopes, and affections, are the result of universal education. Such are the consequences of the equality of rights, and of the provisions for the general diffusion of knowledge and the distribution of intestate estates, established by the laws framed by the earliest emigrants to New England.

If from our cities we turn to survey the wide expanse of the interior, how do the effects of the institutions and example of our early ancestors appear, in all the local comfort and accommodation which mark the general condition of the whole country ; —unobtrusive, indeed, but substantial ; in nothing splendid, but in everything sufficient and satisfactory. Indications of active talent and practical energy exist everywhere. With a soil comparatively little luxuriant, and in great proportion either rock, or hill, or sand, the skill and industry of man are seen triumphing over the obstacles of nature; making the rock the guardian of the field; molding the granite, as though it were clay; leading cultivation to the hill-top, and spreading over the arid plain, hitherto unknown and unanticipated harvests. The lofty mansion of the prosperous adjoins the lowly dwelling of the husbandman; their respective inmates are in the daily interchange of civility, sympathy, and respect. Enterprise and skill, which once held chief affinity with the ocean or the sea-board, now .begin to delight the interior, haunting our rivers, where the music of the water-, fall, with powers more attractive than those of the fabled harp of Orpheus, collects around it intellectual man and material nature. Towns and cities, civilized and happy communities, rise, like exhalations, on rocks and in forests, till the deep and far-resounding voice of the neighbouring torrent is itself lost and unheard, amid the predominating noise of successful and rejoicing labor.

What lessons has New England, in every period of her history, given to the world! What lessons do her condition and example still give! How unprecedented; yet how practical! How simple; yet how powerful! She has proved, that all the variety of Christian sects may live together in harmony, under a government which allows equal privileges to all, — exclusive preeminence to none. She has proved, that ignorance among the multitude is not necessary to order, but that the surest basis of perfect order is the information of the people. She has proved the old maxim, that “No government, except a despotism with a standing army, can subsist where the people have arms,” is false. Ever since the first settlement of the country, arms have been required to be in the hands of the whole multitude of New England; yet the use of them in a private quarrel, if it have ever happened, is so rare, that a late writer, of great intelligence, who had passed his whole life in New England, and possessed extensive means of information, declares, “I know not a single instance of it.” She has proved, that a people, of a character essentially military, may subsist without dueling. New England has, at all times, been distinguished, both on the land and on the ocean, for a daring, fearless, and enterprising spirit; yet the same writer asserts, that during the whole period of her existence, her soil has been disgraced but by five duels, and that only two of these were fought by her native inhabitants! Perhaps this assertion is not minutely correct. There can, however, be no question, that it is sufficiently near the truth to justify the position for which it is here adduced, and which the history of New England, as well as the experience of her inhabitants, abundantly confirms; that, in the present and in every past age, the spirit of our institutions has, to every important practical purpose, annihilated the spirit of dueling.

Such are the true glories of the institutions of our fathers! Such the natural fruits of that patience in toil, that frugality of disposition, that temperance of habit, that general diffusion of knowledge, and that sense of religious responsibility, inculcated by the precepts, and exhibited in the example of every generation of our ancestors!

What then, in conclusion of this great topic, are the elements of the liberty, prosperity, and safety, which the inhabitants of New England at this day enjoy? In what language, and concerning what comprehensive truths, does the wisdom of former times address the inexperience of the future?

Those elements are simple, obvious, and familiar.

Every civil and religious blessing of New England, all that here gives happiness to human life, or security to human virtue, is alone to be perpetuated in the forms and under the auspices of a free commonwealth.

The commonwealth itself has no other strength or hope, than the intelligence and virtue of the individuals that compose it.

For the intelligence and virtue of individuals, there is no other human assurance than laws providing for the education of the whole people.

These laws themselves have no strength, or efficient sanction, except in the moral and accountable nature of man, disclosed in the records of the Christian’s faith; the right to read, to construe, and to judge concerning which, belongs to no class or cast of men, but exclusively to the individual, who must stand or fall by his own acts and his own faith, and not by those of another.

The great comprehensive truths, written in letters of living light on every page of our history, — the language addressed by every past age of New England to all future ages is this; — Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom!freedom none but virtue;virtue none but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has any vigor, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian faith and in the sanctions of the Christian religion.

Men of Massachusetts! Citizens of Boston! Descendants of the early emigrants! Consider your blessings; consider your duties. You have an inheritance acquired by the labors and sufferings of six successive generations of ancestors. They founded the fabric of your prosperity, in a severe and masculine morality; having intelligence for its cement, and religion for its groundwork.. Continue to build on the same foundation, and by the same principles; let the extending temple of your country’s freedom rise, in the spirit of ancient times, in proportions of intellectual and moral architecture,—just, simple, and sublime.. As from the first to this day, let New England continue to be an example to the world, of the blessings of a free government, and of the means and capacity of man to maintain it. And, in all times to come, as in all times past, may Boston be among the foremost and the boldest to exemplify and uphold whatever constitutes the prosperity, the happiness, and the glory of New England.

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REVIEW OF CUSTANCE ON THE CONSTITUTION

The Magna Carta (Click to enlarge)

The Magna Carta (Click to enlarge)

Sharing this article by Rev. Robert Hall mainly for the quote in the first paragraph.

REVIEW OF CUSTANCE ON THE CONSTITUTION

 

A Concise View of the Constitution of England. By George Custance. Dedicated, by permission, to William Wilberforce, Esq., M.P.for the County of York. Kidderminster: Gower; London: Longman and Co.; Hatchard. 1808.

It were surely to be wished that every man had a competent acquaintance with the laws and constitution of the country to which he belongs. Patriotism is a blind and irrational impulse, unless it is founded on a knowledge of the blessings we are called to secure, and the privileges we propose to defend. In a tyrannical state it is natural for the ruling power to cherish political ignorance, which can alone reconcile men to the tame surrender of their natural rights. The diffusion of light and knowledge is very unfavourable to ill-founded pretensions of every sort, but to none more than the encroachments of arbitrary power and lawless violence. The more we explore the recesses of a dungeon, the less likely are we to be reconciled to take up our residence in it. But the venerable fabric of the British constitution, our hereditary mansion, whether it be tried by the criterion of convenience or of beauty, of ancient prescription or of practical utility, will bear the most rigid examination; and the more it is contemplated will be the more admired.

The Romans were so conscious of the importance of imparting to the rising generation an early knowledge of their laws and constitution, that the contents of the twelve tables were committed to memory, and formed one of the first elements of public instruction. They were sensible that what lays hold of the mind at so early a period is not only likely to be long remembered, but is almost sure to command veneration and respect. We are not aware that similar attempts have been made to render the British youth acquainted with the principles of our admirable constitution, not inferior surely to that of the Roman republic; a defect in the system of education which the circumstances of the present crisis loudly call upon us to supply. When our existence as an independent nation is threatened, when unexampled sacrifices must be made, and, perhaps, the utmost efforts of patience and of persevering courage exerted for our preservation, an attachment to that constitution which is the basis of all our prosperity, cannot be too zealously promoted or too deeply felt. It is a just and enlightened estimate of the invaluable blessings that constitution secures, which alone can make us sustain our present burdens without repining, as well as prepare us for greater privations and severer struggles. For this reason we cannot but look upon the performance before us as a most seasonable publication. One cause of the attention of youth being so little directed to our national laws and constitution, in schools, is probably the want of suitable books. We have an abundance of learned and able writers on these subjects; but few, if any, that are quite adapted to the purpose we are now speaking of. Millar’s is a very profound and original work; but it supposes a great deal of previous knowledge, without which it can be scarcely understood, and is in every view better adapted to aid the researches of an antiquary, or the speculations of a philosopher, than to answer the end of an elementary treatise. De Lolme’s performance may be deemed more suitable; yet, able and ingenious as it is, it labours under some essential deficiencies, considered in the light of an elementary work. There is in it a spirit of refined speculation, an eagerness to detect and display latent, unthought-of excellences, in the frame of government, which is very remote from the simplicity requisite in the lessons of youth. Of Blackstone’s Commentaries it would be presumptuous in us to attempt an eulogium, after Sir William Jones has pronounced it to be the most beautiful outline that was ever given of any science. Nothing can exceed the luminous arrangement, the vast comprehension, and, we may venture to add from the best authorities, the legal accuracy of this wonderful performance, which, in style and composition, is distinguished by an unaffected grace, a majestic simplicity, which can only be eclipsed by the splendour of its higher qualities. Admirable, however, as these commentaries are, it is obvious that they are much too voluminous and elaborate to answer the purpose of an introduction to the study of the English constitution. We do, therefore, most sincerely congratulate the public on the appearance of a work which we can safely recommend as ‘well fitted to supply a chasm in our system of public instruction. The book before us is, in ever}’ view, well adapted for the instruction of youth: the clear and accurate information h conveys upon a most important subject, and the truly Christian tincture of its maxims and principles, are well calculated to enlarge the understanding and improve the heart. We beg leave particularly to recommend it to the attention of schools, in which, we conceive, a general acquaintance with the laws and constitution of the country might be cultivated with much advantage, as forming a proper preparation for the active scenes of life. Legal provisions for the security of the best temporal interests of mankind are the result of so much collective wisdom and experience, and are so continually conversant with human affairs, that we know no study more adapted to invigorate the understanding, and at the same time to give a practical turn to its speculations. The close cohesion of its parts tends to make the mind severely argumentative, while its continual relation to the state of society and its successive revolutions fences it in on the side of metaphysical abstraction and useless theories. What we look upon (for the reasons already mentioned) to be a most useful and interesting study at all times, we would earnestly recommend as an indispensable duty at the present crisis.

Of the merits of the work before us, the public may form some judgment, when we inform them that it contains whatever is most interesting to the general reader in Blackstone, together with much useful information derived from Professor Christian, De Lolme, and various other eminent authors. Some will be ready to accuse the writer of having carried his partiality toward whatever is established too far; nor dare we say the charge is entirely unfounded. We are not disposed, however, to be severe upon him on this account. We wish to see the minds of our youth preoccupied with a strong bias in favour of our national institutions. We would wish to see them animated by a warm and generous enthusiasm, and to defer the business of detecting faults and exposing imperfections to a future period. Let us only be allowed to remark, that this policy should be temperately employed; lest the mind should suffer a revulsion, and pass, perhaps abruptly, from implicit admiration to the lest, indignant at having been misled, it censure for undistinguishing applause.

We wish our author had, in common with Blackstone, expressed his disapprobation of the severity of our criminal code. The multiplicity of capital punishments we shall always consider as a reproach to the English nation; though, numerous as they are, they bear no proportion to what they ‘would be were the law permitted to take its course. The offences deemed capital by the common law are few; the sanguinary complexion of the criminal law, as it now stands, has arisen from the injudicious tampering of the legislature. To us it appears evident, that the certainty of punishment will restrain offenders more than its severity.; and that, when men are tempted to transgress, they do not weigh the emolument they had in view against the penalty awarded by law, but simply the probability of detection and punishment against that of impunity. Let the punishments be moderate, and this will be the most effectual means of rendering them certain. While nothing can exceed the trial by jury, and the dignified impartiality with which justice is administered, we are compelled to look upon the criminal code with very different emotions, and earnestly to wish it were carefully revised, and made more humane, simple, and precise.

As little can we concur with the author before us in the defence he sets up of the donation of pensions and where there are no pretensions of personal merit or honorable services. Standing quite aloof from party politic must affirm, that to whatever extent such a practice exactly in the same proportion is it a source of public calamity and disgrace. To look at it, as our author does, only in a pecuniary view, is to neglect the principal consideration. It is not merely or chiefly as a waste of public money that the granting of sinecures and pensions to the undeserving ought to be condemned; the venality and corruption it indicates and produces is its worst feature, and an infallible symptom of a declining state. With these exceptions, we have accompanied the author with almost uninterrupted pleasure, and have been highly gratified with the good sense, the extensive information, and the unaffected piety he displays throughout the work. Though a firm and steady churchman himself, be manifests a truly Christian spirit toward the Protestant dissenters; and is so far from looking with an evil eye on the large toleration they enjoy, that he contemplates with evident satisfaction the laws on which that toleration is founded.

Of the style of this work, it is but justice to say that, without aspiring to any high degree of ornament, it is pure, perspicuous, and correct, well suited to the subject on which it is employed.

As a fair specimen of Mr. C.’s manner of thinking, we beg leave to lay before our readers the following just and appropriate remarks on dueling:—

“Deliberate dueling falls under the head of express malice; and the law of England has justly fixed the crime and punishment of murder upon both the principal and accessaries of this most unchristian practice. Nothing more is necessary with us, to check this daring violation of all law, than the same firmness and integrity in the trial of duellists which so eminently distinguish an English jury on all other “occasions.

“Perhaps it will be asked, what are men of honour to do, if they must not appeal to the pistol and sword? The answer is obvious: if one gentleman has offended another, he cannot give a more indisputable proof of genuine courage, than by making a frank acknowledgment of his fault, and asking forgiveness of the injured party. On the other hand, if he have received an affront, he ought freely to forgive, as he hopes to be forgiven of God. And if either of the parties aggravate the matter by sending a challenge to fight, the other must not be a partaker of sin, if he would obey God rather than man.

“Still it will be said that a military or naval man, at least, must not decline a challenge, if he would maintain the character of a man of courage. But is it not insulting the loyalty and good sense of the brave defenders of our laws, to imagine that they of all men must violate them to preserve their honour; since the king has expressly forbidden any military man to send a challenge to fight a duel, upon pain of being cashiered, if an officer; and of suffering corporal punishment, if a non-commissioned officer or private soldier? Nor ought any officer or soldier to upbraid another for refusing a challenge, whom his Majesty positively declares he considers as having only acted in obedience to his (fn. 1) royal orders; and fully acquits of any disgrace that may be attached to his conduct. Besides, what necessary connection is there between the fool-hardiness of one who risks the eternal perdition of his neighbour and of himself in an unlawful combat, and the patriotic bravery of him who, when duty calls, boldly engages the enemy of his king and country? None will dispute the courage of the excellent Colonel Gardiner, who was slain at the battle of Preston Pans, in the rebellion of 1745. Yet he once refused a challenge, with this dignified remark: ‘I fear sinning, though I do not fear fighting.’ (Fn.2) The fact is, that fighting a duel is so far from being a proof of a man’s possessing true courage, that it is an infallible mark of his cowardice. For he is influenced by ‘the fear of man,’ whose praise he loveth more than the praise of God.”

Fn.1  See ‘ Articles of War,’ sec. 7.”

Fn.2 See Doddridge’s ‘Life of Colonel Gardiner,’ an interesting piece of biography, worthy the perusal of every officer in the army and navy.

Copyright © 2010 – 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES A LOVE OF FREEDOM

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This piece of literature is long, however it is well worth the read, keeping in mind it builds and gains expression as you read further and further, it gets better the further you read as it is laid out in sublime eloquence and common sense reasoning. For the record, I, like Robert Hall am also not a unitarian, nor am I a trinitarian for that matter.

If you can…

Imagine the awe, excitement, wonder and energy among the common people when the Bible was printed in English & other languages, where they could read it for themselves & learned how the state & clergy lied to them for centuries about what was contained there.

These people were lied to all of their lives as were their ancestors for as long as they could remember. They were exposed to the truth for the first time.

They were zealous, honest hearted, and full of the desire to learn more!

This is what led to the foundation of the United States of America during the period called “the Enlightenment”

I saw the same type of hunger for the truth among the church people of Haiti when I was there in ’78.

“There is, assuredly, no other country on earth in which Shakespeare and the Bible are held in such general high esteem,” wrote the German journalist Karl Knortz speaking of the United States of America in the 1880’s

CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES A LOVE OF FREEDOM

ORIGINALLY TITLED: CHRISTIANITY CONSISTENT WITH A LOVE OF FREEDOM:

BEING

AN ANSWER BY REV. ROBERT HALL

TO

A SERMON,

LATELY PUBLISHED, BY THE REV. JOHN CLAYTON.

[published In 1791.]

It may be proper just to remark, that the animadversions I have made on Mr. John Clayton’s Sermon did not arise from my conviction of there being anything even of plausibility in his reasonings, but from an apprehension that certain accidental and occasional prejudices might give some degree of weight to one of the weakest defenses of a bad cause that was ever undertaken. I have taken up more time in showing that there is no proper connection between the Unitarian doctrine and the principles of liberty than the subject may seem to require; but this will not be thought superfluous by those who recollect that that idea seems to be the great hinge of Mr. Clayton’s discourse, and that it appears amongst the orthodox part of the dissenters to have been productive already of unhappy effects. I shall only add, that these remarks would have appeared much sooner but for severe indisposition, and that I was induced to write them chiefly from a persuasion that they might perhaps, in the present instance, have somewhat of additional weight as coming from one who is not an Unitarian.

Cambridge.

Sept. 17, 1791.

John Clayton’s ‘The duty of Christians to Magistrates’: a Sermon occasioned by the late Riots at Birmingham, preached at the King’s Weigh-house, East-Cheap, on Lord’s-day morning, July 24th, 1791. With a prefixed address to the public, intended to remove the reproach lately fallen on protestant dissenters. This sermon which led to a controversy, and provoked from Robert Hall his fine vindication of liberty, entitled ‘Christianity consistent with a Love of Freedom.’

NOTE BY THE EDITOR.

Christianity consistent with a Love of Freedom’ was written when Rev. Robert Hall was twenty-seven years of age; and he never would consent to its re-publication. He continued to think the main principles correct and important; but he regarded the tone of animadversion as severe, sarcastic, and unbecoming. Three or four editions have, however, been printed surreptitiously; and one of them, which now lies before me, Is so complete an imitation of the original edition of 1791, as usually to escape detection.

This, though one of the earliest productions laid by Mr. Hall before the public, is, with the exception already adverted to, by no means calculated to deteriorate his reputation. It contains some powerful reasoning as well as some splendid passages, and the concluding four or five pages exhibit a fine specimen of that union of severe taste, and lofty genius, and noble sentiment, which is evinced, I think, more frequently in his compositions than in those of any other modern author.

I have no fear of incurring blame for having cancelled throughout the name of the individual against whom Mr. Hall’s strictures were leveled. Venerable for his age, and esteemed for his piety, who would now voluntarily cause him, or those who love him, a pang ?*

Royal Miljtary Academy,
June 1,1831.

* As the name is now pretty generally known, and the distance of the event removes all personal feelings, there appears no reason why it should be suppressed in the present edition. It is “The Reverend John Clayton,” at that time minister of the Weigh House, Eastcheap.—Publisher.

CHRISTIANITY CONSISTENT WITH A LOVE OF FREEDOM,
&c. &c.

This is a period distinguished for extraordinary occurrences, whether we contemplate the world under its larger divisions, or in respect to those smaller communities and parties, into which it is broken and divided. We have lately witnessed, with astonishment and regret, the attempts of a celebrated orator to overthrow the principles of freedom, which he had rendered himself illustrious by defending; as well as to cover with reproach the characters of those by whom, in the earlier part of life, he was most caressed and distinguished. The success of these efforts is pretty generally known, and is such as it might have been expected would have been sufficient to deter from similar attempts. But we now behold a dissenting minister coming forth to the public under the character of a flatterer of power, and an accuser of his brethren. If the splendid eloquence that adorns every part of Mr. Burke’s celebrated book cannot shelter the author from confutation, and his system from contempt, Mr. Clayton, with talents far inferior, has but little to expect in the same cause. It is not easy to conceive the motives which could impel him to publish his sermon. From his own account it should seem he was anxious to disabuse the legislature, and to convince them there are many amongst the dissenters who highly disapprove the sentiments and conduct of the more patriotic part of their brethren. How far he may be qualified from his talents or connections, as a mouth, to declare the sentiments of any considerable portion of the dissenters, I shall not pretend to decide; but shall candidly confess, there are not wanting amongst us persons who are ready upon all occasions to oppose those principles on which the very existence of our dissent is founded. Every party will have its apostates of this kind; it is our consolation, however, that their numbers are comparatively small, that they are generally considered as our reproach, and that their conduct is in a great measure the effect of necessity, as they consist almost entirely of persons who can only make themselves heard by confusion and discord. If our author wishes to persuade the legislature the friends of arbitrary power are conspicuous for their number or their rank in the dissenting interest, he has most effectually defeated his own intentions, as scarce anything could give them a meaner opinion of that party, in both these respects, than this publication of its champion. The sermon he has obtruded upon the public is filled with paradoxes of so singular a complexion, and so feebly supported, that I find it difficult to lay hold of anything in the form of argument, with sufficient steadiness for the purpose of discussion.

I shall endeavour, however, with as much distinctness as I am able, to select the fundamental principles on which the discourse rests, and shall attempt, as I proceed, to demonstrate their falsehood and danger.

Our author’s favourite maxim is the inconsistency of the Christian profession with political science, and the certain injury its spirit and temper must sustain from every kind of interference with the affairs of government. Political subjects he considers as falling within the peculiar province of the irreligious; ministers, in particular, he maintains, should ever observe, amidst the concussions of party, an entire neutrality; or if at any time they depart from their natural line of conduct, it should only be in defence of the measures of government, in allaying dissensions, and in convincing the people they are incompetent judges of their rights. These are the servile maxims that run through the whole of this extraordinary discourse; and, that I may give a kind of method to the following observations upon them, I shall show in the first place the relation Christianity bears to civil government, and its consistency with political discussion, as conducted either by ordinary Christians or ministers; in the next place, I shall examine some of the pretences on which the author founds his principles.

Editors Note: It is good to read this in conjunction with “Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God

Thomas Jefferson regarding God's Divine Will (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson regarding God’s Divine Will (Click to enlarge)

From Alex De Tocqueville who came to America in the 1830’s traveling here extensively. Afterwards he wrote about his experience in volumes called Democracy in America. Have not found all the sources of the original quotes here, some are found in Herald and Presbyter – Volume 93 from 1921 and attributed to Tocqueville. I have put ? marks after those.

Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.

In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people…

Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent…

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.?

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.?

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.? Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1953: January-June By Library of Congres

The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.

Section I.

On the Duty of common Christians in Relation to Civil Polity.

The momentous errors Mr. Clayton has committed appear to me to have arisen from an inattention to the proper design of Christianity, and the place and station it was intended to occupy. On this subject I beg the reader’s attention to the following remarks:—

1st. Christianity was subsequent to the existence and creation of man. It is an institution intended to improve and ennoble our nature, not by subverting its constitution or its powers, but by giving us a more enlarged view of the designs of Providence, and opening a prospect into eternity. As the existence of man is not to be dated from the publication of Christianity, so neither is that order of things that flows from his relation to the present world altered or impaired by that divine system of religion. Man, under the Christian dispensation, is not a new structure erected on the ruin of the former; he may rather be compared to an ancient fabric restored, when it had fallen into decay, and beautified afresh by the hand of its original founder. Since Christianity has made its appearance in the world, he has continued the same kind of being he was before, fills the same scale in the order of existence, and is distinguished by the same propensities and powers.

In short, Christianity is not a reorganization of the principles of man, but an institution for his improvement. Hence it follows, that whatever rights are founded on the constitution of human nature, cannot be diminished or impaired by the introduction of revealed religion, which occupies itself entirely on the interests of a future world, and takes no share in the concerns of the present in any other light than as it is a state of preparation and trial. Christianity is a discovery of a future life, and acquaints us with the means by which its happiness may be secured; civil government is altogether an affair of the present state, and is no more than a provision of human skill, designed to ensure freedom and tranquility during our continuance on this temporary stage of existence. Between institutions so different in their nature and their object, it is plain no real opposition can subsist; and if ever they are represented in this light, or held inconsistent with each other, it must proceed from an ignorance of their respective genius and functions. Our relation to this world demands the existence of civil government; our relation to a future renders us dependent on the aid of the Christian institution; so that in reality there is no kind of contrariety between them, but each may continue without interference in its full operation. Mr. Clayton, however, in support of his absurd and pernicious tenets, always takes care to place civil government and Christianity in opposition, whilst he represents the former as carrying in it somewhat antichristian and profane. Thus he informs us, that civil government is a stage, erected on which, man acts out his character, and shows great depravity of heart. All interference in political parties he styles an alliance with the world, a neglecting to maintain our separation, and to stand upon our own hallowed ground. There is one way, says he, by which he means to insinuate there is only one, in which you may all interfere in the government of your country, and that is by prayer to God, by whom kings reign. These passages imply that the principles of civil polity and religion must be at perpetual variance, as without this supposition, unsupported as it is in fact, they can have no force or meaning.

2nd. Mr. Clayton misleads his reader by not distinguishing the innocent entertainments or social duties of our nature from those acts of piety which fall within the immediate province of Christianity.

The employments of our particular calling, the social ties and endearments of life, the improvement of the mind by liberal inquiry, and the cultivation of science and of art, form, it is true, no part of the Christian system, for they flourished before it was known; but they are intimately connected with the happiness and dignity of the human race. A Christian should act ever consistent with his profession, but he need not always be attending to the peculiar duties of it. The profession of religion does not oblige us to relinquish any undertaking on account of its being worldly, for we must then go out of the world; it is sufficient, that everything in “which we engage is of such a nature as will not violate the principles of virtue, or occupy so much of our time or attention as may interfere with more sacred and important duties.

Mr. Clayton observes, Jesus Christ uniformly waived interesting himself in temporal affairs, especially in the concerns of the then existing government; and hence he draws a precedent to regulate the conduct of his followers. That our Saviour did not intermeddle with the policy of nations I am as willing as our author to admit; for the improvement of this, any more than any other science which might be extremely short and defective, formed no part of his mission, and was besides rendered quite unnecessary by that energy of mind which, prompted by curiosity, by our passions and our wants, will ever be abundantly sufficient to perpetuate and refine every civil or human institution. He never intended that his followers, on becoming Christians, should forget they were men, or consider themselves as idle or uninterested spectators on the great theatre of life. The author’s selection of proofs is almost always unhappy, but in no instance more than the present, when he attempts to establish his doctrine of the unlawfulness of a Christian interfering in the administration of government on our Saviour’s silence respecting it, a circumstance of itself sufficient to support a quite contrary conclusion; for if it had been his intention to discountenance the study of political subjects, he would have furnished us, without doubt, with some general regulations, some stated form of policy, which should forever preclude the necessity of such discussion; or, if that were impracticable, have let us into the great secret of living without government; or, lastly, have supplied its place by a theocracy similar to that of the Jews. Nothing of this has he accomplished, and we may therefore rest assured the political affairs of nations are suffered to remain in their ancient channels, and to be conducted as occasions may arise, by Christians or by others, without distinction.

The principles of freedom ought, in a more peculiar manner, to be cherished by Christians, because they alone can secure that liberty of conscience, and freedom of inquiry, which is essential to the proper discharge of the duties of their profession. A full toleration of religious opinions, and the protection of all parties in their respective modes of worship, are the natural operations of a free government; and everything that tends to check or restrain them, materially affects the interests of religion. Aware of the force of religious belief over the mind of man, of the generous independence it inspires, and of the eagerness with which it is cherished and maintained, it is towards this quarter the arm of despotism first directs its attacks, while through every period the imaginary right of ruling the conscience has been the earliest assumed, and the latest relinquished. Under this conviction, an enlightened Christian, when he turns his attention to political occurrences, will rejoice in beholding every advance towards freedom in the government of nations, as it forms not only a barrier to the encroachments of tyranny, but a security to the diffusion and establishment of truth. A considerable portion of personal freedom may be enjoyed, it is true, under a despotic government, or, in other words, a great part of human actions may be left uncontrolled; but with this an enlightened mind will never rest satisfied, because it is at best but an indulgence flowing from motives of policy, or the lenity of the prince, which may be at any time withdrawn by the hand that bestowed it. Upon the same principles, religious toleration may have an accidental and precarious existence in states whose policy is the most arbitrary; but, in such a situation, it seldom lasts long, and can never rest upon a secure and permanent basis, disappearing for the most part along with those temporary views of interest or policy, on which it was founded. The history of every age will attest the truth of this observation.

Mr. Clayton, in order to prepare us to digest his principles, tells us in the first page of his discourse, that the gospel dispensation is spiritual, the worship it enjoins simple and easy, and if liberty of conscience be granted, all its exterior order may be regarded under every kind of human government. This is very true, but it is saying no more than that the Christian worship may be always carried on, if it is not interrupted; a point, I presume, no one will contend with him. The question is, can every form of government furnish a security for liberty of conscience; or, which is the same thing, can the rights of private judgment be safe under a government whose professed principle is, that the subject has no rights at all, but is a vassal dependent on his superior lord. Nor is this a futile or chimerical question; it is founded upon fact. The state to which it alludes is the condition at present of more than half the nations of Europe; and if there were no better patriots than this author, it would soon be the condition of them all. The blessings which we estimate highly we are naturally eager to perpetuate, and whoever is acquainted with the value of religious freedom, will not be content to suspend it on the clemency of a prince, the indulgence of ministers, or ,.he liberality of bishops, if ever such a thing existed; he will never think it secure till it has a constitutional basis; nor even then, till by the general spread of its principles, every individual becomes its guarantee, and every arm ready to be lifted up in its defence. Forms of policy may change, or they may survive the spirit that produced them; but when the seeds of knowledge have been once sown, and have taken root in the human mind, they will advance with a steady growth, and even flourish in those alarming scenes of anarchy and confusion, in which the settled order and regular machinery of government are wrecked and disappear.

Christianity, we see, then, instead of weakening our attachment to the principles of freedom, or withdrawing them from our attention, renders them doubly dear to us, by giving us an interest in them, proportioned to the value of those religious privileges which they secure and protect.

Our author [Clayton] endeavours to cast reproach on the advocates for liberty, by attempting to discredit their piety, for which purpose he assures us, to be active in this cause is disreputable, and brings the reality of our religion into just suspicion. Who are the persons, he asks, that embark? Are they the spiritual, humble, and useful teachers, who travail in birth, till Christ be formed in the hearts of their hearers? No. They are philosophical opposers of the grand peculiarities of Christianity. It is of little consequence of what descriptions of persons the friends of freedom consist, provided their principles are just, and their arguments well founded; but here, as in other places, the author displays an utter ignorance of facts. Men who know no age but their own, must draw their precedents from it; or, if Mr. Clayton had glanced only towards the history of England, he must have remembered, that in the reigns of Charles the First and Second, the chief friends of freedom were the puritans, of whom many were republicans, and the remainder zealously attached to a limited monarchy [i.e. Limited Government]. It is to the distinguished exertions of this party we are in a great measure indebted for the preservation of our free and happy constitution. In those distracted and turbulent times which preceded the restoration of Charles the Second, the puritans, who to a devotion the most fervent united an eager attachment to the doctrines of grace, as they are commonly called, displayed on every occasion a love of freedom, pushed almost to excess; whilst the cavaliers, their opponents, who ridiculed all that was serious, and, if they had any religion at all, held sentiments directly repugnant to the tenets of Calvin, were the firm supporters of arbitrary power. If the unitarians, then, are at present distinguished for their zeal in the cause of freedom, it cannot be imputed to any alliance between their religious and political opinions, but to the conduct natural to a minority, who, attempting bold innovations, and maintaining sentiments very different from those which are generally held, are sensible they can only shelter themselves from persecution and reproach, and gain an impartial hearing from the public, by throwing down the barriers of prejudice, and claiming an unlimited freedom of thought.

4th. Though Christianity does not assume any immediate direction in the affairs of government, it inculcates those duties, and recommends that spirit, which will ever prompt us to cherish the principles of freedom. It teaches us to check every selfish passion, to consider ourselves as parts of a great community, and to abound in all the fruits of an active benevolence. The particular operation of this principle will be regulated by circumstances as they arise, but our obligation to cultivate it is clear and indubitable. As this author does not pretend that the nature of a government has no connection with the felicity of those who are the subjects of it, he cannot without the utmost inconsistence deny, that to watch over the interests of our fellow creatures in this respect is a branch of the great duty of social benevolence. If we are bound to protect a neighbour, or even an enemy, from violence, to give him raiment when he is naked, or food when he is hungry, much more ought we to do our part toward the preservation of a free government; the only basis on which the enjoyment of these blessings can securely rest. He who breaks the fetters of slavery, and delivers a nation from thraldom, forms, in my opinion, the noblest comment on the great law of love, whilst he distributes the greatest blessing which man can receive from man; but next to that is the merit of him, who in times like the present, watches over the edifice of public liberty, repairs its foundations, and strengthens its cement, when he beholds it hastening to decay.

It is not in the power of every one, it is true, to benefit his age or country, in this distinguished manner, and accordingly it is nowhere expressly commanded; but where this ability exists, it is not diminished by our embracing Christianity, which consecrates every talent to the public good. On whomsoever distinguished endowments are bestowed, as Christians we ought to rejoice when, instead of being wasted in vain or frivolous pursuits, we behold them employed on objects of the greatest general concern; amongst which those principles of freedom will ever be reckoned, which determine the destiny of nations, and the collective felicity of the human race.

5th. Our author [Clayton] expresses an ardent desire for the approach of that period when all men will be Christians. I have no doubt that this event will take place, and rejoice in the prospect of it; but whenever it arrives, it will be fatal to Mr. Clayton’s favourite principles; for the professors of Christianity must then become politicians, as the wicked, on whom he at present very politely devolves the business of government, will be no more: or, perhaps he indulges a hope, that even then, there will be a sufficient number of sinners left to conduct political affairs, especially as wars will then cease, and social life be less frequently disturbed by rapine and injustice. It will still, however, be a great hardship, that a handful of the wicked should rule innumerable multitudes of the just, and cannot fail, according to our present conceptions, to operate as a kind of check on piety and virtue. How Mr. Clayton will settle this point I cannot pretend to say, except he imagines men will be able to subsist without any laws or civil regulations, or intends to revive the long-exploded tradition of Papias [Bishop of Hierapolis, and author of the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord in five books], respecting the personal reign.

Had Christianity been intended only for the benefit of a few, or as the distinction of a small fraternity, there might have been some pretense for setting its profession in opposition to human policy, since it might then have been conducted without their interference; but a religion which is formed for the whole world, and will finally be embraced by all its inhabitants, can never be clogged with any such impediment as would render it repugnant to the social existence of mankind.

Section II.

On the Duty of Ministers in Respect to Civil Polity.

Mr. Clayton is extremely severe upon those of his brethren, who, forsaking the quiet duties of their profession as he styles them, have dared to interfere in public affaire. This he considers a most flagrant offence, an alarming departure from their proper province; and in the fulness of his rage he heaps upon them every epithet which contempt or indignation can suggest; calls them meddling, convivial, political ministers, devoid of all seriousness and dignity. It is rather extraordinary, this severe correction should be administered by a man who is, at that moment, guilty of the offence he is chastising; reproaches political preachers in a political sermon; ridicules theories of government, and at the same time advances one of his own, a most wretched one indeed, but delivered in a tone the most arrogant and decisive. It is not political discussion then, it seems, that has ruffled the gentle serenity of our author’s temper; for he too, we see, can bend, when it pleases him, from his spiritual elevation, and let fall his oracular responses on the duty of subjects and of kings. But the persons on whom he denounces his anathemas have presumed to adopt a system of politics inconsistent with his own, and it is less his piety than his pride that is shocked and offended. Instead of submitting to be molded by any adept in cringes, and posture-master of servility, they have dared to assume the bold and natural port of freemen.

It will be unnecessary to say much on the duty of ministers, in respect to political affairs, as many of the reflections which this subject would suggest have been already advanced under a former head. A few considerations, however, present themselves here, to which I shall beg the reader’s attention.

The duties of the ministerial character, it will on all hands be confessed, are of a nature the most sacred and important. To them should be directed the first and chief attention of every person who sustains it, and whatever is found to interfere with these momentous engagements, should be relinquished as criminal and improper. But there is no profession which occupies the mind so fully as not to leave many intervals of leisure, in which objects that lie out of its immediate province will have a share of our attention; and I see not why these periods of recess may not be employed with as much dignity and advantage, in acquiring an acquaintance with the principles of government, as wasted in frivolous amusements, or an inactive indolence. Mr. Clayton, with his usual confidence, lays it down as a maxim, that the science of politics cannot be cultivated without a neglect of ministerial duties; and one would almost be tempted to suppose he had published his sermon as a confirmation of this remark; for a more striking example of political ignorance in a teacher of religion, has scarcely ever been exhibited. As far, therefore, as the preacher himself is concerned, the observation will be admitted in its full force; but he has surely no right to make his own weakness the standard of another’s strength.

Political science, as far as it falls under our present contemplation, may be considered in two points of view. It may either intend a discussion of the great objects for which governments are formed, or it may intend a consideration of the means which may be employed, and the particular contrivances that may be fallen upon to accomplish those objects. For example, in vindicating the revolution of France, two distinct methods may be pursued with equal propriety and success. It may be defended upon its principles against the friends of arbitrary power, by displaying the value of freedom, the equal rights of mankind, the folly and injustice of those regal or aristocratic pretensions by which those rights were invaded; accordingly, in this light it has been justified with the utmost success. Or it may be defended upon its expedients, by exhibiting the elements of government which it has composed, the laws it has enacted, and the tendency of both to extend and perpetuate that liberty which is its ultimate object. But though each of these modes of discussion fall within the province of politics, it is obvious the degree of inquiry, of knowledge, and of labour they require, differs widely. The first is a path which has been often and successfully trod, turns upon principles which are common to all times and places, and which demand little else to enforce conviction, than calm and dispassionate attention. The latter method, involving a question of expediency, not of right, would lead into a vast field of detail, would require a thorough acquaintance with the situation of persons and of things, as well as long and intimate acquaintance with human affairs. There are but few ministers who have capacity or leisure to become great practical politicians. To explore the intricacies of commercial science, to penetrate the refinements of negotiation, to determine with certainty and precision the balance of power, are undertakings, it will be confessed, which lie very remote from the ministerial department; but the principles of government, as it is a contrivance for securing the freedom and happiness of men, may be acquired with great ease.

These principles our ancestors understood well, and it would be no small shame if, in an age which boasts so much light and improvement as the present, they were less familiar to us. There is no class of men to whom this species of knowledge is so requisite, on several accounts, as dissenting ministers. The jealous policy of the establishment forbids our youth admission into the celebrated seats of learning; our own seminaries, at least till lately, were almost entirely confined to candidates for the ministry; and as on both these accounts, amongst us, the intellectual improvement of our religious teachers rises superior to that of private Christians, in a greater degree than in the national church, the influence of their opinions is wider in proportion. Disclaiming, as they do, all pretensions to dominion, their public character, their professional leisure, the habits of study and composition which they acquire, concur to point them out as the natural guardians, in some measure, of our liberties and rights. Besides, as they are appointed to teach the whole compass of social duty, the mutual obligations of rulers and subjects will of necessity fall under their notice; and they cannot explain or enforce the reasons of submission, without displaying the proper end of government, and the expectations we may naturally form from it; which, when accurately done, will lead into the very depths of political science.

There is another reason, however, distinct from any I have yet mentioned, flowing from the nature of an established religion, why dissenting ministers, above all men, should be well skilled in the principles of freedom. Wherever, as in England, religion is established by law with splendid emoluments and dignities annexed to its profession, the clergy, who are candidates for these distinctions, will ever be prone to exalt the prerogative, not only in order to strengthen the arm on which they lean, but that they may the more successfully ingratiate themselves in the favour of the prince, by flattering those ambitious views and passions which are too readily entertained by persons possessed of supreme power. The boasted alliance between church and state, on which so many encomiums [Tributes: speeches or pieces of writing that praises someone or something highly] have been lavished, seems to have been little more than a compact between the priest and the magistrate, to betray the liberties of mankind, both civil and religious. To this the clergy, on their part at least, have continued steady, shunning inquiry, fearful of change, blind to the corruptions of government, skilful to discern the signs of the times, and eager to improve every opportunity, and to employ all their art and eloquence to extend the prerogative and smooth the approaches of arbitrary power. Individuals are illustrious exceptions to this censure; it however applies to the body, to none more than to those whose exalted rank and extensive influence determine its complexion and spirit. In this situation, the leaders of that church, in their fatal attempt to recommend and embellish a slavish system of principles, will, I trust, be ever carefully watched and opposed by those who hold a similar station amongst the dissenters; that, at all events, there may remain one asylum to which insulted freedom may retire unmolested. These considerations are sufficient to justify every dissenting minister in well-timed exertions for the public cause, and from them we may learn what opinion to entertain of Mr. Clayton’s weak and malignant invectives.

From the general strain of his discourse, it would be natural to conclude he was an enemy to every interference of ministers on political occasions; but this is not the case. Ministers, says he, may interfere as peace-makers, and by proper methods should counteract the spirit of faction raised by persons who seem born to vex the state. After having taught them to remain in a quiet neutrality, he invests them all at once with the high character of arbiters between the contending parties, without considering that an office of so much delicacy would demand a most intimate acquaintance with the pretensions of both. Ministers, it should seem, instead of declining political interference, are to become such adepts in the science of government, as to distinguish with precision the complaints of an oppressed party from the clamors of a faction, to hold the balance between the ruler and the subject with a steady hand, and to point out on every occasion, and counteract the persons who are born to vex the state. If any should demand by what means they are to furnish themselves for such extraordinary undertakings, he will learn that it is not by political investigation or inquiry this profound skill is to be attained, but by a studied inattention and neglect; of which this author, it must be confessed, has given his disciples a most edifying example in his first essay. There is something miraculous in these endowments. This battle is not to the strong, nor these riches to men of understanding. Our author goes a step farther, for when he is in the humour for concessions no man can be more liberal. So far as revolutions, says he, are parts of God’s plan of government, a Christian is not to hinder such changes in states as promise an increase of happiness to mankind. But nowhere in the New Testament can a Christian find countenance in becoming a forward active man in regenerating the civil constitutions of nations. A Christian is not to oppose revolutions, as far as they are parts of God’s plan of government. The direction which oracles afford has ever been complained of for its obscurity; and this of Mr. Clayton, though no doubt it is fraught with the profoundest wisdom, would have been more useful, had it furnished some criterion to distinguish those transactions which are parts of God’s plan of government. We have hitherto imagined the elements of nature, and the whole agency of man, are comprehended within the system of Divine Providence; but, as in this sense everything becomes a part of the divine plan, it cannot be his meaning. Perhaps he means to confine the phrase of God’s plan of government to that portion of human agency which is consistent with the divine will and promises, or, as he says, with an increase of happiness to mankind. If this should be his intention, the sentiment is just, but utterly subversive of the purpose for which it is introduced, as it concurs with the principle of all reformers in leaving us no other direction in these cases than reason and experience, determined in their exertions by a regard to the general happiness of mankind. On this basis the wildest projectors profess to erect their improvements. On this principle, too, do the dissenters proceed, when they call for a repeal of the test act, when they lament the unequal representation of parliament, when they wish to see a period to ministerial corruption, and to the encroachments of an hierarchy equally servile and oppressive; and thus, by one unlucky concession, this author has admitted the ground-work of reform in its fullest extent, and has demolished the whole fabric he was so eager to rear. He must not be offended if principles thus corrupt, and thus feebly supported, should meet with the contempt they deserve, but must seek his consolation in his own adage, as the correction of folly is certainly apart of God’s plan of government. The reader can be at no loss to determine whom the author intends by a busy active man in regenerating the civil constitutions of nations. The occasion of the sermon, and complexion of its sentiments, concur in directing us to Dr. Priestley, a person whom the author [Clayton] seems to regard with a more than odium theologicum [i.e. theological hatred], with a rancor exceeding the measure even of his profession. The religious tenets of Dr. Priestley appear to me erroneous in the extreme; but I should be sorry to suffer any difference of sentiment to diminish my sensibility to virtue, or my admiration of genius. From him the poisoned arrow will fall pointless. His enlightened and active mind, his unwearied assiduity, the extent of his researches, the light he has poured into almost every department of science, will be the admiration of that period, when the greater part of those who have favoured, or those who have opposed him, will be alike forgotten. Distinguished merit will ever rise superior to oppression, and will draw luster from reproach. The vapours which gather round the rising sun, and follow it in its course, seldom fail at the close of it to form a magnificent theatre for its reception, and to invest with variegated tints, and with a softened effulgence, the luminary which they cannot hide. [NOTE: Whether or not the beautiful passage in the text was suggested by a floating vague recollection of the following lines of Pope, or were an avowed imitation of them, cannot now be determined. But be this as it may, I think it will be readily admitted that the rhythm and harmony of the passage in prose are decidedly superior to those in the lines of the poet:—

“Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue,
But, like a shadow, prove the substance true:
For envied wit, like Sol [the Sun] eclips’d, makes known
Th’ opposing body’s grossness, not its own.
When first that sun too powerful beams displays,
It draws up vapours which obscure its rays:
But e’en those clouds at last adorn its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.”—Editor.]

It is a pity, however, our author [Clayton], in reproaching characters so illustrious, was not a little more attentive to facts; for unfortunately for him, Dr. Priestley has not in any instance displayed that disaffection to government with which he has been charged so wantonly. In his Lectures on History, and his Essay on Civil Government, which of all his publications fall most properly within the sphere of politics, he has delineated the British constitution with great accuracy, and has expressed his warm admiration of it as the best system of policy the sagacity of man has been able to contrive. In his Familiar Letters to the Inhabitants of Birmingham, a much later work, where the seeds of that implacable dislike were scattered which produced the late riots, he has renewed that declaration, and has informed us, that he has been pleasantly ridiculed by his friends as being an unitarian in religion, and a trinitarian in politics. He has lamented, indeed, in common with every enlightened citizen, the existence of certain corruptions, which, being gradually introduced into the constitution, have greatly impaired its vigour; but in this he has had the honour of being followed by the prime minister himself, who began his career by proposing a reform in parliament, merely to court popularity it is true, at a time when it would not have been so safe for him to insult the friends of freedom after having betrayed their interest, as he has since found it.

Dr. Priestley has, moreover, defended with great ability and success the principles of our dissent, exposing, as the very nature of the undertaking demands, the folly and injustice of all clerical usurpations; and on this account, if on no other, he is entitled to the gratitude of his brethren. In addition to this catalogue of crimes, he has ventured to express his satisfaction on the liberation of France; an event which, promising a firmer establishment to liberty than any recorded in the annals of the world, is contemplated by the friends of arbitrary power throughout every kingdom of Europe with the utmost concern. These are the demerits of Dr. Priestley, for which this political astrologist and sacred calculator of nativities pronounces upon him that he is born to vex the state. The best apology candour can suggest, will be to hope Mr. Clayton has never read Dr. Priestley’s political works; a conjecture somewhat confirmed from his disclaiming all attention to political theories, and from the extreme ignorance he displays through the whole of his discourse on political topics. Still it is to be wished he would have condescended to understand what he means to confute, if it had been only to save himself the trouble and disgrace of this publication.

The manner in which he speaks of the Birmingham riots, and the cause to which he traces them, are too remarkable to pass unnoticed.

When led, says he, speaking of the sufferers, by officious zeal, from the quiet duties of their profession into the Senator’s province: unhallowed boisterous passions in others, like their own, God may permit to chastise them. For my own part I was some time before I could develope this extraordinary passage; but I now find the darkness in which it is veiled is no more than that mystic sublimity which has always tinctured the language of those who are appointed to interpret the counsels of heavens.

I would not have Mr. Clayton deal too freely in these visions, lest the fire and illumination of the prophet should put out the reason of the man, a caution the more necessary in the present instance, as it glimmers so feebly already in several parts of his discourse, that its extinction would not be at all extraordinary. We are, no doubt, much obliged to him for letting us into a secret we could never have learned any other way. We thank him heartily for informing us that the Birmingham riots were a judgment; and, as we would wish to be grateful for such an important communication, we would whisper in his ear in return, that he should be particularly careful not to suffer this itch of prophesying to grow upon him, men being extremely apt, in this degenerate age, to mistake a prophet for a madman, and to lodge them in the same place of confinement. The best use he could make of his mantle would be to bequeath it to the use of posterity, as for the want of it I am afraid they will be in danger of falling into some very unhappy mistakes. To their unenlightened eyes it will appear a reproach, that in the eighteenth century, an age that boasts its science and improvement, the first philosopher in Europe, of a character unblemished, and of manners the most mild and gentle, should be torn from his family, and obliged to flee an outcast and a fugitive from the murderous bands of a frantic rabble; but when they learn that there were not wanting teachers of religion, who secretly triumphed in these barbarities, they will pause for a moment, and imagine they are reading the history of Goths or of Vandals. Erroneous as such a judgment must appear in the eyes of Mr. Clayton, nothing but a ray of his supernatural light could enable us to form a more just decision. Dr. Priestley and his friends are not the first that have suffered in a public cause; and when we recollect, that those who have sustained similar disasters have been generally conspicuous for a superior sanctity of character, what but an acquaintance with the counsels of heaven can enable us to distinguish between these two classes of sufferers, and, whilst one are the favourites of God, to discern in the other the objects of his vengeance? When we contemplate this extraordinary endowment, we are no longer surprised at the superiority he assumes through the whole of his discourse, nor at that air of confusion and disorder which appears in it; both of which we impute to his dwelling so much in the insufferable light, and amidst the coruscations and flashes of the divine glory; a sublime but perilous situation, described with great force and beauty by Mr. Gray:

“He passed the flaming bounds of place and time:
The living throne, the sapphire blaze,
Where angels tremble while they gaze.
He saw; but blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night”

Section III.

On the Pretenses Mr. Clayton advances in favour of his Principles.

Having endeavoured to justify the well-timed exertions of Christians and of ministers, in the cause of freedom, it may not be improper to examine a little more particularly under what pretences Mr. Clayton presumes to condemn this conduct.

The first that naturally presents itself, is drawn from those passages of Scripture in which the design of civil government is explained, and the duty of submission to civil authority is enforced. That on which the greatest stress is laid, is found in the thirteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers which be, are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive unto themselves damnation. The Ruler is the Minister of God to thee for good. But if thou doest that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain. Wherefore ye must be subject, not only for wrath, but conscience sake.” This passage, which, from the time of Sir Robert Filmer to the present day, has been the stronghold of the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, will admit of an easy solution, by attending to the nature of Christianity, and the circumstances of its professors, during the period in which it was written. The extraordinary privileges and dignity conferred by the Gospel on believers, must have affected the minds of the first Christians, just emerging from the shades of ignorance, and awakened to new hopes, with singular force. Feeling an elevation to which they were strangers before, and looking down upon the world around them as the vassals of sin and Satan, they might be easily tempted to imagine the restraint of laws could not extend to persons so highly privileged, and that it was ignominious in the free men of Jesus Christ to submit to the yoke of idolatrous rulers. Natural to their situation as these sentiments might be, none could be conceived more detrimental to the credit and propagation of a rising religion, or more likely to draw down upon its professors the whole weight of the Roman Empire, with which they were in no condition to contend. In this situation, it was proper for the apostle to remind Christians, their religion did not interfere with the rights of princes, or diminish their obligation to attend to those salutary regulations which are established for the protection of innocence and the punishment of the guilty. That this only was the intention of the writer, may be inferred from the considerations he adduces to strengthen his advice. He does not draw his arguments for submission from anything peculiar to the Christian system, as he must have done, had he intended to oppose that religion to the natural rights of mankind, but from the utility and necessity of civil restraints.

“The Ruler is the Minister of God to thee for good,” is the reason he urges for submission. Civil government, as if he had said, is a salutary institution, appointed to restrain and punish outrage and injustice, but exhibiting to the quiet and inoffensive nothing of which they need to be afraid. “If thou doest that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain.” He is an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Christians were not to consider themselves privileged above their fellow-citizens, as their religion conferred upon them no civil immunities, but left them subject to all the ties and restraints, whatever they were, which could be justly imposed by the civil power on any other part of mankind.

The limits of every duty must be determined by its reasons, and the only ones assigned here, or that can be assigned for submission to civil authority, are its tendency to do good; wherever therefore this shall cease to be the case, submission becomes absurd, having no longer any rational view. But at what time this evil shall be judged to have arrived, or what remedy it may be proper to apply, Christianity does not decide, but leaves to be determined by an appeal to natural reason and right. By one of the strangest misconceptions in the world, when we are taught that Christianity does not bestow upon us any new rights, it has been thought to strip us of our old; which is just the same as it would be to conclude, because it did not first furnish us with hands or feet, it obliges us to cut them off.

Under every form of government, that civil order which affords protection to property, and tranquillity to individuals, must be obeyed; and I have no doubt, that before the revolution in France, they who are now its warmest admirers, had they lived there, would have yielded a quiet submission to its laws, as being conscious the social compact can only be considered as dissolved by an expression of the general will. In the mean time, they would have continued firm in avowing the principles of freedom, and by the diffusion of political knowledge, have endeavoured to train and prepare the minds of their fellow-citizens for accomplishing a change so desirable.

It is not necessary to enter into a particular examination of the other texts adduced by Mr. Clayton in support of his sentiments, as this in Romans is by much the most to his purpose, and the remarks that have been made upon it may, with very little alteration, be applied to the rest. He refers us to the second chapter of the first Epistle of Peter. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” Here it is sufficient to remark, all that can be inferred from this passage is, that Christians are not to hold themselves exempt from the obligation of obedience on account of their religion, but are to respect legislation as far as it is found productive of benefit in social life.

With still less propriety, he urges the first of Timothy, where, in the second chapter, we are “exhorted to supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.” I am unacquainted with any who refuse a compliance with this apostolical admonition, except the nonjurors may be reckoned of this class, whose political sentiments are of a piece with our author’s.

Whilst he pleads with so much eagerness for the duty of passive obedience, we are not, however, to suppose, he wishes to extend it to all mankind. He admits, that society, under the wisest regulations, will degenerate, and there will be periods when associated bodies must be resolved again into their first principles. All resistance to authority, every revolution, is not in his own opinion criminal; it is Christians only, who are never to have a share in these transactions, never to assert their rights. With what different sentiments did the apostle of the Gentiles contemplate his character, when disdaining to accept a clandestine dismission from an unjust imprisonment, he felt a glow of indignant pride burn upon his cheek, and exclaimed with a Roman energy, “I was free born!”

2nd. Another reason which this author [Clayton] assigns for a blind deference to civil authority is, that Christianity is distinct from and independent of human legislation. This principle no protestant dissenter will be inclined to question, but, instead of lending any support to the system of passive obedience, it will overturn it from its foundation; for if religion be really distinct from, and independent of, human legislation, it cannot afford any standard to ascertain its limits; as the moment it is applied to this purpose, it ceases to be a thing distinct and independent. For example, it is not doubted that a Christian may lawfully engage in trade or commerce; but if it be asked why his profession does not interfere with such an undertaking, the proper reply will be, religion is a thing distinct and independent. Should it be again inquired, why a Christian may become a trader, yet must not commit a theft, we should answer, that this latter action is not a thing distinct, or independent of religion, but falls immediately under its cognizance, as a violation of its laws. Thus it appears, that whatever portion of human conduct is really independent of religion, is lawful for that very reason, and can then only become criminal or improper, when it is suffered to entrench upon more sacred or important duties. The truth is, between two institutions, such as civil government and religion, which have a separate origin and end, no opposition can subsist, but in the brain of a distempered enthusiast.

The author’s [Clayton’s] text confutes his doctrine, for had our Saviour annihilated our rights, he would have become a judge and divider over us, in the worst sense, if that could be said to be divided which is taken away. When any two institutions are affirmed to be distinct and independent, it can only mean, they do not interfere; but that must be a genius of no common size, who can infer from religion not interfering with the rights of mankind, that they cease to be, or that the patrimony, over which our Lord declined to exercise any authority, he has scattered and destroyed.

3rd. Similar to the last I have considered, is that pretence for excluding Christians from any concern in political affairs, taken from the conduct of our Saviour. Mr. Clayton tells us, that Christ uniformly waived interesting himself in the concerns of the then existing government; and to the same purpose he afterwards remarks, he always declined the functions of a civil magistrate.

The most careless reader will remark, the whole weight of this argument rests upon a supposition that it is unlawful for a Christian to sustain any other character in civil life, than that in which our Saviour literally appeared; a notion as extravagant as was ever nourished in the brain of the wildest fanatic. Upon this principle, he must have gone through such a succession of offices, and engaged in such an endless variety of undertakings, that in place of thirty-three years, he needed to have lived thirty-three centuries. On this ground the profession of physic is unlawful for a Christian, because our Lord never set up a dispensary; and that of Law, because he never pleaded at the bar. Next to the weakness of advancing such absurdity, is that of confuting it.

The author [Clayton], in proof of his political tenets, appeals to the devotional feelings of his hearers. “I ask you,” says he, “who make conscience of entering into your closets, and shutting your doors, and praying to your Father which seeth in secret; what subjects interest you most then? Are not factious passions hushed; the undue heat you felt in political disputation remembered with sorrow?” He must be at a great loss for argument, who will have recourse to such loose and flimsy declamation. When engaged in devout admiration of the Supreme Being, every other object will be lost in the comparison; but this, though the noblest employment of the mind, was never intended to shut out all other concerns.

The affections which unite us to the world have a large demand upon us, and must succeed in their turn. If everything is to be deemed criminal that does not interest the attention in the very moment of worship, political concerns are not the only ones to be abandoned, but every undertaking of a temporal nature, all labour and ingenuity must cease. Science herself must shroud her light. These are notions rather to be laughed at than confuted, for their extravagance will correct itself. Every attempt that has been made to rear religion on the ruins of nature, or to render it subversive of the economy of life, has hitherto proved unsuccessful, whilst the institutions that have flowed from it are now scarcely regarded in any other light than as humiliating monuments of human weakness and folly. The natural vigour of the mind, when it has once been opened by knowledge, and turned towards great and interesting objects, will always overpower the illusions of fanaticism; or, could Mr. Clayton’s principles be carried into effect, we should soon behold men returning again to the state of savages, and a more than monkish barbarity and ignorance would overspread the earth. That abstraction from the world it is his purpose to recommend, is in truth as inconsistent with the nature of religion, as with the state and condition of man; for Christianity does not propose to take us out of the world, but to preserve us from the pollutions which are in it.

It is easy to brand a passion for liberty with the odious [hateful] epithet of faction; no two things, however, can be more opposite. Faction is a combination of a few to oppress the liberties of many; the love of freedom is the impulse of an enlightened and presiding spirit, ever intent upon the welfare of the community, or body to which it belongs, and ready to give the alarm, when it beholds any unlawful conspiracy formed, whether it be of rulers or of subjects, with a design to oppress it. Every Tory upholds a faction; every Whig, as far as he is sincere and well informed, is a friend to the equal liberties of mankind. Absurd as the preacher’s appeal must appear, on such an occasion, to the devout feelings of his hearers, we have no need to decline it. In those solemn moments, factious passions cannot indeed be too much hushed, but that warmth which animates the patriot, which glowed in the breast of a Sidney or a Hampden, was never chilled, or diminished, we may venture to affirm, in its nearest approaches to the uncreated splendour; and if it mingled with their devotion at all, could not fail to infuse into it a fresh force and vigour, by drawing them into a closer assimilation to that great Being, who appears under the character of the avenger of the oppressed, and the friend and protector of the human race.

Lastly, the author [Clayton] endeavours to discredit the principles of freedom, by holding them up as intimately connected with the unitarian heresy. “We are not to be surprised,” he says, “if men who vacate the rule of faith in Jesus Christ, should be defective in deference and in obedient regards to men who are raised to offices of superior influence, for the purposes of civil order and public good.” The persons he has in view are the unitarians, and that my reader may be in full possession of this most curious argument, it may be proper to inform him, that an unitarian is a person who believes Jesus Christ had no existence till he appeared on our earth, whilst a trinitarian maintains, that he existed with the Father from all eternity. What possible connection can he discern between these opinions and the subject of government?

In order to determine whether the supreme power should be vested in king, lords, and commons, as in England, in an assembly of nobles, as in Venice, or in a house of representatives, as in America or France, must we first decide upon the person of Christ? I should imagine we might as well apply to astronomy first, to learn whether the earth flattens at the poles. He explains what he means by vacating the rule of faith in Christ, when he charges the unitarians with a partial denial at least, of the inspiration of the Scripture, particularly the Epistles of St. Paul. But however clear the inspiration of the Scriptures may be, as no one pleads for the inspiration of civil governors, the deference which is due to the first, as coming from God, can be no reason for an unlimited submission to the latter. Yet this is Mr. Clayton’s argument, and it runs thus. Every opposition to Scripture is criminal, because it is inspired, and therefore every resistance to temporal rulers is criminal, though they are not inspired.

The number of passages in Paul’s Epistles which treat of civil government is small; the principal of them have been examined, and whether they are inspired or not, has not the remotest relation to the question before us. The inspiration of an author adds weight to his sentiments, but makes no alteration in his meaning; and unless Mr. Clayton can show that Paul inculcates unlimited submission, the belief of his inspiration can yield no advantage to his cause. Amongst those parties of Christians who have maintained the inspiration of the Scriptures in its utmost extent, the number of such as have inferred from them the doctrine of passive obedience has been extremely small; it is, therefore, ridiculous to impute the rejection of this tenet by unitarians to a disbelief of plenary inspiration. It behooves Mr. Clayton to point out, if he is able, any one of the unitarians who ever imagined that Paul means to recommend unlimited obedience; for till that is the case, it is plain their political opinions cannot have arisen from any contempt of that apostle’s authority.

The knowledge and study of the Scriptures, far from favouring the pretensions of despotism, have almost ever diminished it, and been attended with a proportional increase of freedom. The union of Protestant princes preserved the liberties of the Germanic body when they were in danger of being overwhelmed by the victorious arm of Charles the Fifth; yet a veneration for the Scriptures, at a time when they had almost fallen into oblivion, and an appeal to their decisions in all points, was the grand characteristic of the new religion. If we look into Turkey, we shall find the least of that impatience under restraints which Mr. Clayton laments, of any place in the world, though Paul and his epistles are not much studied there.

There are not wanting reasons, which at first view, might induce us to conclude unitarianism was less favourable to the love of freedom than almost any other system of religious belief. If any party of Christians were ever free from the least tincture of enthusiasm, it is the unitarian; yet that passion has by every philosopher been judged friendly to liberty, and to its influence, though perhaps improperly, some of its most distinguished exertions have been ascribed. Hume and Bolingbroke, who were atheists, leaned towards arbitrary power. Owen, Howe, Milton, Baxter, some of the most devout and venerable characters that ever appeared, were warmly attached to liberty, and held sentiments on the subject of government as free and unfettered as Dr. Priestley. Thus every pretence for confounding the attachment to freedom with the sentiments of a religious party, is most abundantly confuted both from reason and from fact. The zeal unitarians have displayed in defence of civil and religious liberty, is the spirit natural to a minority, who are well aware they are viewed by the ecclesiastical powers with an unparalleled malignity and rancor. Let the dissenters at large remember they too are a minority, a great minority, and that they must look for their security from the same quarter, not from the compliments of bishops, or presents from maids of honour. [NOTE: Some of my readers perhaps need to be informed that I here allude to Mr. Martin, who, for similar services to those Mr. Clayton is now performing, has been considerably caressed by certain bishops, who have condescended to notice and to visit him. I think we do not read that Judas had any acquaintance with the high priests till he came to transact business with them.]

To abandon principles which the best and most enlightened men have in all ages held sacred, which the dissenters in particular have rendered themselves illustrious by defending, which have been sealed and consecrated by the blood of our ancestors, for no other reason than that the unitarians chance to maintain them, would be a weakness of which a child might be ashamed! Whoever may think fit to take up the gauntlet iu the Socinian controversy will have my warmest good wishes; but let us not employ those arms against each other which were given us for our common defence.

Section IV.

On the Test Act.

Amidst all the wild eccentricities which, abounding in every part of this extraordinary publication, naturally diminish our wonder at anything such a writer may advance, I confess I am surprised at his declaring his wish for the continuance of the Test Act. This law, enacted in the latter end of the reign of Charles the Second, to secure the nation from popery, when it stood upon the brink of that precipice, is continued now that the danger no longer exists which first occasioned it, for the express purpose of preserving the church from the inroads of dissenters. That church, it must be remembered, existed for ages before it received any such protection; yet it is now the vogue to magnify its importance to that degree, that one would imagine it was its sole prop, whose removal would draw the whole fabric after it, or at least make it totter to its base. Whether these apprehensions were really entertained by the clergy who gave the signal for the commencement of hostilities on a late occasion, or whether they were only impelled by that illiberal tincture and fixed antipathy to all who differ from them, which hath ever marked their character, may be doubted; but to behold a dissenting minister joining with them in an unnatural warfare against his brethren, is a phenomenon so curious, that it prompts us to inquire into its cause. Let us hear his reasons. He and many others were convinced, he tells us, ” that some of the persons who applied “for the repeal were influenced by enmity against the doctrinal “articles of the established church, and they could not sacrifice “their pious regard to truth, though in a church they had separated from, to the policy of men, who, with respect to God our Saviour, only consult how they may cast him down from his Excellency.” When we hear the clergy exclaim that their church is in danger, we pretty well understand what they mean; they speak broad, as Mr. Burke says, and intend no more than that its emoluments are endangered; but when a serious dissenter expresses his pious regard to the doctrines of the church, it is the truth of those articles he must be supposed to have in view. Let us consider for a moment what advantage the Test Act is capable of yielding them. All those who qualify for civil offices, by a submission to this law, consist of two classes of people; they are either persons who are attached to the articles of the church, from whom, therefore, no danger could accrue; or they are persons who have signified their assent to doctrines which they inwardly disapprove, and who have qualified themselves for trust by a solemn act of religious deception. It is this latter class alone, it should be remembered, whom the Test Act can at all influence, and thus the only security this celebrated law can afford the articles of the church, is founded in a flagrant violation of truth in the persons who become their guarantees. Every attempt that has been made to uphold religion by the civil arm, has reflected disgrace upon its authors; but of all that are recorded in the history of the world, perhaps this is the most absurd in its principle, and the least effectual in its operation. For the truth of sacred mysteries in religion, it appeals to the most corrupt principles of the human heart, and to those only; for no one can be tempted by the Test Act to profess an attachment to the doctrines of the church, till he has been already allured by the dignity or emolument of a civil office. By compelling all who exercise any function in the state from the person who aspires to its highest distinctions, to those who fill the meanest offices in it, to profess that concurrence in religious opinions which is known never to exist, it is adapted, beyond any other human invention, to spread amongst all orders of men a contempt for sacred institutions, to enthrone hypocrisy, and reduce deception to a system! The truth of any set of opinions can only be perceived by evidence; but what evidence can anyone derive from the mere mechanical action of receiving bread and wine at the hands of a parish priest? He who believes them already needs not to be initiated by any such ceremony; and by what magic touch those simple elements are to convert the unbeliever, our author, who is master of so many secrets, has not condescended to explain. He will not pretend to impute the first spread of these doctrines in the infancy of the Christian religion, or their revival at the Reformation, to any such means, since he imagines he can trace them in the New Testament. It is strange if that evidence, which was powerful enough to introduce them where they were unknown, is not sufficient to uphold them where they are already professed and believed. At least, the Test Act, it must be confessed, has yielded them no advantage, for they have been controverted with more acrimony, and admitted by a smaller number of persons, since that law was enacted, than in any period preceding.

Were the removal of this test to overthrow the establishment itself, a consequence at the same time in the highest degree improbable, the articles of the church, if they are true, would remain unendangered, their evidence would continue unimpaired, an appeal to the inspired writings from which they profess to be derived would be open, the liberty of discussion would be admitted in as great an extent as at present; this difference only would occur, that an attachment to them would no longer be suspected of flowing from corrupt and sinister motives. They would cease to be with the clergy the ladder of promotion, the cant of the pulpit, the ridicule of the schools. The futility of this or any other law, as a security to religious doctrines, may be discerned from this single reflection, that in the national church its own articles have, for a length of time, been either treated with contempt, or maintained with little sincerity and no zeal; whilst amongst the dissenters, where they have had no such aids, they have found a congenial soil, and continue to flourish with vigour.

On the political complexion of this test, as it does not fall so properly within my present view, I shall content myself with remarking, that harmless as it may appear at first sight, it carries in it the seeds of all the persecutions and calamities which have ever been sustained on a religious account. It proscribes not an individual who has been convicted of a crime, but a whole party, as unfit to be trusted by the community to which they belong; and if this stigma can be justly fixed on any set of men, it ought not to stop here, or anywhere, short of the actual excision of those who are thus considered as rotten and incurable members of the political body. In annexing to religious speculation the idea of political default, the principle of this law would justify every excess of severity and rigour. If we are the persons it supposes, its indulgence is weak and contemptible; if we are of a different description, the nature of its pretensions is so extraordinary as to occasion serious alarm, and call aloud for its repeal.

Mr, Clayton, indeed, calls this, and similar laws, a restraint very prudently imposed upon those who dissent from the established religion. This restraint, however, is no less than a political annihilation, debarring them, though their talents were ever so splendid, from mingling in the counsels, or possessing any share in the administration of their country. With that natural relish for absurdity which characterizes this author, he imagines they have justly incurred this evil for dissenting from an erroneous religion.

He tells us, in the course of his sermon, that the grand “principle of separation from the church lies in the unworldly nature of our Saviour’s kingdom.” This reason for separation implies, that any attempt to blend worldly interests or policy with the constitution of a church is improper; but how could this be done more effectually than by rendering the profession of its articles a preliminary step to every kind of civil pre-eminence? Yet this abuse, which in his own estimation is so enormous as to form the great basis of separation, he wishes to perpetuate; and all things considered, hopes “that which is at rest will not be disturbed.” In another part of his discourse, he asks what temporalities has the church of Christ to expect? It is the mother of harlots, which says, “I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow.” Would any one imagine this was the language of a man, who, in pleading for a Test Act, has rested the support of his creed on those very temporalities he affects so much to disdain, and has committed his religion to the arms of that mother of harlots to be reared and nourished! When speaking of the Test Act in the seventh page of his discourse, he thus expresses himself: “Surely the cross of Christ ought not to be insulted by persons eager to press into the temple of Mammon.” Who could treat it with more poignant severity than is couched in this declaration? Yet this is the language of a person who desires its continuance. In truth, his representations on this subject are pregnant with such contradictions, and rise above each other in so singular a gradation of absurdity, as will not be easily conceived, and perhaps hath scarce ever been equaled. At the very outset of his sermon, he declares, “Whenever the Gospel is secularized it is debased and misrepresented, and in proportion to the quantity of foreign infusions is the efficacy of this saving health diminished.” But human ingenuity would be at a loss to contrive a method of secularizing the Gospel more completely, than by rendering it the common passport of all who aspire to civil distinctions. I am really weary of exposing the wild and extravagant incoherence of such a reasoner. From a man who, professing to be the apologist of his party, betrays its interests, and exhibits its most illustrious members to reproach; who, himself a dissenter, applauds the penalties which the hierarchy has inflicted as a “prudent restraint;” who, with the utmost poignance, censures a law which he solemnly invokes the legislature to perpetuate; and proposes to secure the truths of religion, by the “profanation of its “sacraments,” by “debasing the Gospel, and insulting the cross;” anything may be expected but consistence and decency. When such an author assures us he was not impelled by vanity to publish, we may easily give him credit; but he should remember, though it may be a virtue to subdue vanity, it is base to extinguish shame. The tear which, he tells us, started from the eyes of his audience, we will hope, for their honour, was an effusion of regret, natural to his friends, on hearing him deliver sentiments which they considered as a disgrace to himself, and a calumny on his brethren. His affecting to pour contempt upon Dr. Price, whose talents and character were revered by all parties, and to hold him up as the corrupter of the dissenters, will not fail to awaken the indignation of every generous mind. Whether they were greater friends to their country, whose pride and oppression scattered the flames of discord across the Atlantic [in America], poured desolation into the colonies, dismembered the empire, and involved us in millions of debt; or the man, who, with a warning voice, endeavoured to avert those calamities; posterity will decide.

He gives us a pompous enumeration of the piety, learning, and talents of a large body of his brethren who concur with him in a disapprobation of the theological and political tenets of the unitarians. The weakness of mingling them together has been shown already; but if these great and eminent men, whom the world never heard of before, possess that zeal for their religion they pretend, let them meet their opponents on the open field of controversy, where they may display their talents and prowess to somewhat more advantage than in skulking behind a consecrated altar.

There are many particulars, in the address and sermon, of an extraordinary complexion, which I have not noticed at all, as it was not my intention to follow the author step by step, but rather to collect his scattered representations into some leading points of view. For the same reason, I make no remarks on his barbarous imagery; or his style, everywhere incoherent and incorrect, sometimes indecent, which cannot fail of disgusting every reader of taste. In a rude daubing peculiar to himself, where, in ridicule of Dr. Priestley, he has grouped together a foreigner, a ship, and cargo of drugs, he has unfortunately sketched his own likeness, except in the circumstance of the ship, with tolerable accuracy; for, without the apology of having been shipped into England, he is certainly a foreigner in his native tongue, and his publication will be allowed to be a drug.

Had he known to apply the remark with which his address commences, on the utility of accommodating instruction to the exigence of times, he would have been aware that this is not a season for drawing off the eyes of mankind from political objects. They were, in fact, never turned towards them with equal ardour, and we may venture to affirm they will long continue to take that direction. An attention to the political aspect of the world is not now the fruit of an idle curiosity, or the amusement of a dissipated and frivolous mind, but is awakened and kept alive by occurrences as various as they are extraordinary. There are times when the moral world seems to stand still; there are others when it seems impelled towards its goal with an accelerated force. The present is a period more interesting, perhaps, than any which has been known in the whole flight of time. The scenes of Providence thicken upon us so fast, and are shifted with so strange a rapidity, as if the great drama of the world were drawing to a close.[Note:*] Events have taken place of late, and revolutions have been effected, which, had they been foretold a very few years ago,, would have been viewed as visionary and extravagant; and their influence is yet far from being spent. Europe never presented such a spectacle before, and it is worthy of being contemplated with the profoundest attention by all its inhabitants. The empire of darkness and of despotism has been smitten with a stroke which has sounded through the universe. When we see whole kingdoms, after reposing for centuries on the lap of their rulers, start from their slumber, the dignity of man rising up from depression, and tyrants trembling on their thrones, who can remain entirely indifferent, or fail to turn his eye towards a theatre so august and extraordinary! These are a kind of throes and struggles of nature, to which it would be a sullenness to refuse our sympathy. Old foundations are breaking up; new edifices are rearing. Institutions which have been long held in veneration as the most sublime refinements of human wisdom and policy, which age hath cemented and confirmed, which power hath supported, which eloquence hath conspired to embellish, and opulence to enrich, are falling fast into decay. New prospects are opening on every side of such amazing variety and extent as to stretch farther than the eye of the most enlightened observer can reach.

[Note *] This glowing picture, as accurately descriptive of recent events as of those it was intended to portray, might tempt us almost to fancy that, after the revolution of a cycle or forty years, time had brought us back to the same state of things.—Editor.

Some beneficial effects appear to have taken place already, sufficient to nourish our most sanguine hope of benefits much more extensive. The mischief and folly of wars begin to be understood, and that mild and liberal system of policy adopted which has ever, indeed, been the object of prayer to the humane and the devout, but has hitherto remained utterly unknown in the cabinets of princes. As the mind naturally yields to the impression of objects which it contemplates often, we need not wonder, if, amidst events so extraordinary, the human character itself should appear to be altering and improving apace. That fond attachment to ancient institutions, and blind submission to opinions already received, which has ever checked the growth of improvement, and drawn on the greatest benefactors of mankind danger or neglect, is giving way to a spirit of bold and fearless investigation. Man seems to be becoming more erect and independent. He leans more on himself, less on his fellow-creatures. He begins to feel a consciousness in a higher degree of personal dignity, and is less enamoured of artificial distinctions. There is some hope of our beholding that simplicity and energy of character which marks his natural state, blended with the humanity, the elegance, and improvement of polished society.

The events which have already taken place, and the further changes they forbode, will open to the contemplative of every character innumerable sources of reflection. To the philosopher they present many new and extraordinary facts, where his penetration will find ample scope in attempting to discover their cause, and to predict their effects. He will have an opportunity of viewing mankind in an interesting situation, and of tracing the progress of opinion through channels it has rarely flowed in before. The politician will feel his attention powerfully awakened on seeing new maxims of policy introduced, new institutions established, and such a total alteration in the ideas of a great part of the world, as will oblige him to study the art of government as it were afresh. The devout mind will behold in these momentous changes the finger of God, and, discerning in them the dawn of that glorious period in which wars will cease, and anti-Christian tyranny shall fall, will adore that unerring wisdom whose secret operation never fails to conduct all human affairs to their proper issue, and impels the great actors on that troubled theatre to fulfill, when they least intend it, the counsels of heaven and the predictions of its prophets.

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BIOGRAPHY OF THE REV. ROBERT HALL 1764-1831

Adding this biography in preparation of adding articles written by Mr. Hall to the website in the next few days or weeks.

Rev. Robert Hall Statue This statue in Sicilian marble, standing on a high Cornish granite pedestal, was unveiled on 2 November 1871 by the sculptor, John Birnie Philip. It stands in De Montfort Square. Source: http://www.leicester.gov.uk

Rev. Robert Hall Statue This statue in Sicilian marble, standing on a high Cornish granite pedestal, was unveiled on 2 November 1871 by the sculptor, John Birnie Philip. It stands in De Montfort Square. Source: http://www.leicester.gov.uk

“Mr. Hall, has like Bishop Taylor, the eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the acuteness of a schoolman, the profoundness of a philosopher, and the piety of a saint.”—Note to Dr. Parr’s “Spital [Hospital] Sermon.”

To a devout mind, the present aspect of Christendom presents a subject of sorrowful contemplation, when it is seen split into sects, and divided into parties, each frowning defiance on the other; instead of being united into one indivisible and harmonious society. And it has been asked with some asperity, whether there be not something essentially defective in Revelation, if men can draw so many conclusions from the same premises? But the question has assuredly been put without consideration. The defect is not in Revelation, because that is like its author, fall and perfect; it lies in man, who is unable to comprehend, at present, truth in all its purity and in all its force. There is, however, a time coming, when the veil will be removed from the understandings of all men, when they shall see eye to eye, and be all of one mind, perfect in knowledge, and panting after higher degrees of holiness. Until, however, that time shall arrive, it is no doubt one of the inscrutable arrangements of God, (who plans all things after the counsel of his will,) that differences should exist. It is the same in divine, as in human knowledge; truth is elicited by discussion, and the more the principles of men are sifted, the more likely are they to become wise; provided they seek after truth with a sincere desire to find it, and with a humble dependence upon the teachings of the Spirit of God. But such, alas! is the folly of man, and so prone is the mind to dogmatize, and not to inquire, that almost all the discussions which have hitherto divided the religious world, been have carried on, not, as it appears, for the purpose of elucidating truth, but to establish certain opinions. Men have formed creeds for themselves and then gone to the bible for proofs to support them; instead of appealing to the bible first, and making the word of God the rule of conduct, and the expounder of doctrine. Such proceedings remind us of the inconceivable stupidity of those whom the prophet stigmatizes, as forsaking the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which hold no water.

Robert Hall (2 May 1764 – 21 February 1831), the son of the Rev. Robert Hall, author of “A Help for Zion’s Travellers,” and several sermons, was born at Arnsby, in Leicestershire, where his father was a baptist minister. Early in life, the remarkable genius of Mr. Hall burst forth, so that at nine years of age, he had read through and comprehended those profound metaphysical treatises of president Edwards, on the Will, and Affections. At this early age, he was placed under the able tuition of Mr. Ryland, of Northampton, from whose care he was subsequently removed to the Bristol Institution, where his talents and attention to study, obtained the notice and particular regard of Dr. Evans the president. At seventeen years old, Mr. H. entered himself a student at King’s College, Aberdeen, where he again highly distinguished himself, by his diligent attention to study, and the ease with which he obtained the academical honours. Here he became acquainted with Sir James Mackintosh, and several other distinguished men, and was honoured by the confidence and esteem of Dr. Campbell, and the professors, whose lectures he attended.

It appears that he preached at various places, while at College, and always during the vacations. In his twentieth year he took his degree of master of arts, and shortly after became assistant to Dr. Evans, both in the academy, and in the ministry.

At this time, that awful affliction which deprived the church of his labours overtook him, and he was removed by his friends to Leicestershire; but, being sufficiently recovered, in the year 1791, he became the successor of the celebrated and erring Robert Robinson, at Cambridge. When Mr. Hall accepted the charge of this church, the state of religion was at a low ebb amongst the people—too many had imbibed the sentiments of their late pastor, and almost all possessed only the form of godliness. But soon after the settlement of Mr. Hall, genuine religion revived, the numbers of church members increased, and an ardent and growing attachment to the doctrines of vital godliness was evidenced amongst the people.

It was here that Mr. Hall commenced as author, and his first step was a bold one, proving his independence of spirit and his unconquerable aversion to slavish doctrines of any kind. That astounding event, the French revolution, had agitated all parties in England, and great was the contention, and fierce was the spirit which prevailed. Mr. John Clayton, the late minister of the Weigh House, fearing that the interests of religion were likely to be endangered by the violence of politics, published a sermon, recommending the Dissenters to abstain altogether from political discussions: this sermon contained nothing new, but much that was objectionable, for the doctrines of passive obedience, and non-resistance were unreservedly inculcated. This roused the indignation of Mr. Hall, and, in a reply, alike distinguished for the purity and eloquence of its style, he vindicated the right of the Dissenters to rise, in political discussion, by shewing that Christianity was consistent with the love of freedom.

The profound argument, and solidity of principle, which characterized this work, were never attempted to be shaken by any reply, and Mr. Hall, encouraged by the success which had attended his efforts, afterwards expanded the pamphlet into a small volume, and published it under the title of “An Apology for the Freedom of the Press.”—This ran rapidly through six editions, and did much good in removing from the Dissenters, that obloquy which had been cast upon them, as a body, for the intemperate conduct of one or two of their members. The work was highly spoken of, by the reviews, and extorted admiration even from its enemies.

During this time, the Revolution in France, which had opened with such fair prospects for that nation, and with such magnificent promises of good to others, had taken a disastrous and fatal change. The sun of freedom had scarcely risen ere it set in blood. Scenes the most portentous, and events the most appalling, were daily occurring. The absence of all religion in the church of Rome, at the time the revolution burst upon its bigoted, licentious, and infidel priests, and the prevalence of a philosophy, deadly and cheerless in its nature, added to the natural ferocity of men a tenfold vigour.—They accordingly desecrated the altar, overturned the throne, broke through the social compact, violated all the decencies and charities of life, dishonoured themselves by lusts too gross even to name—and slaughtered all who opposed their wishes. In short, they gave themselves up to all manner of wickedness; and, to crown their depravity, denied the existence of God, and wrote upon the tomb, that death was an eternal sleep!

It was not, however, to be expected that all these things could pass in France without, in some degree, affecting us. Accordingly, we find that the licentious principles and unhallowed doctrines of the French infidels reached England, and were eagerly embraced, not only by the higher classes of society, but by almost all the literary men of the time. To counteract the pernicious tendency, arising from the diffusion of such speculations, Mr. Hall preached and published his sermon on “The Influence of Modern Infidelity on Society.” This sermon instantly procured him the approbation of the wise and good of all parties, and it’s amazing popularity, no doubt, had all the effect its excellent author desired. Its power may be conceived, when it is said, that it drew down upon Mr. Hall repeated and virulent attacks, from men who had embraced the speculative opinions of Voltaire and others. Amongst more insignificant persons, Anthony Robinson, and the celebrated Godwin, both apostates, from the religion which Mr. Hall so triumphantly defended, may be named as those who attempted, but miserably failed, to answer Mr. Hall’s sermon.

In 1803, appeared the sermon, preached on the fast day at Bristol; and, shortly after its publication, Mr. Hall was again afflicted and obliged to suspend all public duty. In this lamentable state he continued some time, but under judicious treatment, his mind gradually regained its great powers, and he was invited to become the pastor of the Baptist Church at Leicester, which, after some deliberation, he accepted. At that time, genuine religion was almost extinct amongst the members, who were poor, and but few in number. The chapel would only contain about three hundred people, and it was then seldom filled, but almost immediately after Mr. Hall’s settlement, the number of members became greater, and the congregation so much increased, that it was found necessary three times to enlarge the chapel; so that now it will seat upwards of one thousand one hundred persons. Here, for upwards of twenty-five years, Mr. Hall continued to labour affectionately—loved by his flock, esteemed and honoured by the people of Leicester, and revered by the clergy and dissenting ministers in the neighborhood. In particular he became intimately acquainted with the late venerable Mr. Robinson, the vicar of St. Mary’s, and this friendship was only dissolved by his death, when Mr. Hall pronounced one of the finest and most eloquent eulogiums on his character, which the English language presents.

During his residence at Leicester, Mr. Hall published his Sermons on the Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Ministry—the Advantage of Knowledge to the lower classes.—On the death of the Princess Charlotte,—On the Holy Spirit, and all his works on Open Communion, besides several Reviews, and a new edition of his Apology.

In the year 1825, Dr. Ryland, the president of the Bristol Academy, and pastor of Broadmead Meeting, died, and Mr. Hall was unanimously chosen to succeed him in both offices. This he, for some time, declined, but at last a sense of duty to the entire connection, prevailed over private feeling, and after a struggle between pastor and people, honourable to both, Mr. H. removed, in March 1826, to Bristol, where, as in every other place where he resided, religion began to revive. This congregation is now on the increase.

It now remains for us to consider Mr. Hall both as a preacher and a writer. In the former character there is very little to remark upon. His appearance in the pulpit is good, his face is plain, but his forehead denotes great reasoning and imaginative powers. His voice is thin, and at times tremulous, and seems incapable of conveying the deep emotions of his heart. His action is very appropriate and chaste. He is powerful in prayer, his great talents, his accurate acquaintance with scripture, his knowledge of the wants of man, his clear views and deep conviction of the truth of the gospel, enable him to approach the footstool of Jehovah with meekness and confidence; with sorrow for sin, mingled with hallowed emotions of holy joy at the abounding mercies of God as displayed in the person, offices, and merits of Christ, as the redeemer of mankind.

His manner is peculiarly earnest and solemn, and tends much to impress on his hearers the preacher’s belief in the great truths upon which he dilates, while the energy with which he delivers his most splendid discourses chains down the attention of all. It appears to us impossible for the most careless and indifferent mind to remain inattentive while Mr. Hall is preaching, for although he uses no arts to gain attention, yet the exquisite variety of his language, the delicate and beautiful gleams of imagery with which his most ordinary sermons abound, are pleasing to the taste, and tend much to recommend religion to those who would revolt from its truths if presented in any other garb.

The predominant features in Mr. Hall’s printed sermons is the great imaginative power which they display;—everything seems steeped in the exhaustless beauties of his wonderful mind ; all that orators have conceived of natural or artificial beauty, or poets imagined of force, grace, and power, are there combined, and in so easy a manner as to prove that the loftiest themes, the most exquisite language, the choicest images, are those with which Mr. Hall is most familiar.

But what proves his wonderful mastery over his varied and extensive knowledge, is the clearness and simplicity of his, style, which is so forcible as to present every idea visibly to the reader, so elegant as not to be improved; abounding with imagery, classical allusions, and felicitous turns of expression, and yet the least unencumbered with its own beauty of any which has ever been written. It possesses all the idiomatic grace of Addison, the terseness of Swift, and the strength of Johnson, without the feebleness of the one, the vulgarity of the other, or the ponderosity of the third. What Johnson said of Addison’s style, may be more properly applied to Mr. Hall’s, ” Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.”

An eminent critic of the present day, speaking of one of Mr. Hall’s sermons, says, “The diction displays an unlimited command and an exquisite choice of language; a vocabulary formed on the basis of Addison’s, but admitting whatever is classical in the richer literature of the present age, and omitting everything that is low or pedantic. The copious use of scriptural language, so eminently appropriate to theological writings, bestows upon the style of this writer an awful sanctity. The uncouthness and vulgarity of some religious authors, who are driven to employ the very words and phrases of scripture, from an ignorance of other words and phrases, and an incapacity to conceive and express a revealed truth in any form but that of the authorized version of the Bible, has co-operated with an irreligious spirit, to bring this important resource of theological eloquence into great disrepute. The skilful manner in s which it is employed by Mr. Hall, may restore its credit. Quotations and allusions, when borrowed from profane literature, are much admired. There is nothing, we think, to render them less admirable when borrowed from holy writ. If properly selected, they possess the same merit of appositeness in one case as in the other; they may be at least equal in rhetorical beauty; and the character of holiness and mystery which is peculiar to them, at once fills the imagination, and warms the heart. The same purity of taste, which appears in Mr. Hall’s choice of words, is equally apparent in the forms of expression into which they are combined. The turn of his phrases is gracefully idiomatic, disdaining the harsh and usurped authority of those grammarians, who would condemn our best writers at the tribunal of analogy, and compel us to surrender the freedom to which we have a prescriptive and immemorial claim, for the sake of an ostentatious dignity of precision.

“There is one other particular in which the style of this writer is perhaps superior to any other,—the construction of his periods, or that which corresponds in prose, to what in poetry is called the versification. In this, as in former discourses, Mr. Hall appears to have employed every elegant and harmonious form which the language admits; always gratifying, often ravishing the ear, but never cloying it;—in the midst of his richest combinations, or his simplest strains, perfectly easy and unaffected,— varying his style with every shade of his sentiment, and converting what is usually but a mechanical vehicle into an expressive and imitative music.”

As an orator, we know of no one either in the present, or at any former period, who surpasses Mr. Hall. He possesses within himself, all the genuine elements which constitute an eloquent and impassioned speaker. In imagination he is equal to Burke, and his reasoning powers place him on a level with Fox, while he excels both, in the purity and energy of his style. We are not acquainted with any oration in the whole range of literature, which is at all equal to his sermon, “On the Present Crisis.” The whole discourse abounds with the most just and patriotic sentiments imbued with Christianity. The peroration is as sublime, and as heart stirring, as any of the strains of Tyrteus.

The discourse on the Influence of Modern Infidelity is a masterpiece of reasoning, the preacher has laid bare the sources of unbelief and traced the workings of infidelity, in all its ramifications upon society, and in so doing he has presented a picture, which appalls the heart, and makes it turn with disgust from the wickedness of its species.

That on the Horrors of War, is, as a composition, not to be excelled, the author brings before the mind’s eye, scenes terrible in their nature, and proves that of all the curses which God can inflict upon man, the greatest scourge is war. It would be well for every Christian to study attentively this discourse, until he had his convictions of the unlawfulness of war, so strongly fixed in his mind as to induce him to act upon the mild and benevolent principles of his religion.

Our limits will not allow us to enumerate all Mr. Hall’s Discourses. We cannot however pass over, unnoticed, his Sermon on the death of the Princess Charlotte; this we consider to be the finest of all his Sermons, when taken as a whole. It enters into a philosophical investigation of the causes of our sorrow; ascertains why we feel more sympathy for suffering greatness than for ordinary cases; shows the instability and vanity of all earthly things, in a most powerful and affecting manner ; directs the hearer to the rock of salvation; and improves the melancholy event, by enforcing upon the reader’s attention his own mortality. The sentiments of the public fully accord with ours as to its merits, for it rapidly passed through fourteen large editions, and is still read with intense pleasure, as a most beautiful and striking composition. Besides the publications we have noticed, Mr. Hall has written several works on the term of Communion; and we rejoice to see that his truly Christian sentiments are very largely diffused. All his opponents have been unable to maintain their ground against him, and, with one exception, (that of the venerable Mr. Kinghorn) have proved that their cause is desperate indeed, when they resort to such unsociable arguments, and mix them up with personal abuse.

Mr. Hall has also contributed several articles to the Eclectic Review, two of these will be long remembered for the powerful effect they produced at the time of their appearance. We allude to the examination of the paper entitled “Zeal without Innovation,” and the “Life of Lindsay,” by Belsham. In both these Reviews Mr. Hall proved his devoted attachment to the truth of the gospel, and evidenced controversial powers of a high order. We should think that neither the author of “Zeal without Innovation,” or Mr. Belsham, would ever again wish to encounter so formidable an adversary.

Source: The Christian Recorder: A Religious and Literary Journal, Issues 1-25; Published 1829

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THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM vs THE RIGHTS OF MAN

TheEducatorAnarchy

NOTE: Not Sure Which Was the True Author, it was published as The Spirit of Despotism by Knox and The Rights of Man by Branagan, in reading them both I would determine Knox to be the author since Branagan starts every paragraph with a quotation mark as seen in this piece.

THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM & THE RIGHTS OF MAN by Vicesimus Knox, Thomas Branagan

“Man in a state of simplicity, uncorrupted by the influence of bad education, bad examples, and bad government, possesses capacity for all that is good and beautiful. He is capable of a degree of moral and intellectual improvement, which advances his nature to a participation with the divine. The world in all its magnificence, appears to him one vast theatre, richly adorned and illuminated, into which he is freely admitted to enjoy the glorious spectacle. Acknowledging no natural superior, but the great architect of the whole fabric, he partakes the delight with conscious dignity, and glows with gratitude. Pleased with himself and all around him, his heart dilates with benevolence, as well as piety; and he finds his joys augmented by communication. His countenance cheerful, his mien erect, he rejoices in existence. Life is a continual feast to him, highly seasoned by virtue, by liberty and mutual affection. God formed him to be happy and he becomes so, thus fortunately unmolested by false policy and oppression. Religion, reason, nature, are his guides through the whole of his existence, and the whole is happy. Virtuous Independence, the sun, which irradiates the morning of his day, warms its noon, tinges the serene evening with every beautiful variety of color, and on the pillow of religious hope, he sinks to repose in the bosom of Providence.

But where is man to be found, thus noble, thus innocent, thus happy? Wherever the rights of nature, and the virtues of simplicity are not violated or banished by the false refinements, the base artifices of corrupted government.

Unhappily for man, society has been almost universally corrupted, even by the arts intended for its improvement; and human nature is gradually depraved in its very progress to civilization. Metamorphosed by the tampering of unskillful or dishonest politicians, and the craft of interested priests, co-operating with politicians, Man at present appears, in many countries, a diminutive and distorted animal, compared with what he was in his primeval state. He has become the dwarf and the cripple of courts and cities, instead of the well-formed, beautiful creature, who once bounded in the glory of health and strength, over the forest and the mountain, glowing with the warmth of virtue, and breathing the spirit of independence.

“Various are the causes which contribute to the factitious depravity of man. Defective and erroneous education corrupts him; the prevalent examples of a degenerate community corrupt him; but bad government corrupts him more than all other causes combined. The grand adversary of human virtue and happiness is Despotism. Look over the surface of the whole earth, and behold man, the glory and deputed lord of the creation, withering under the influence of despotism, like the plant of temperate climes scorched by the sun of a torrid zone. The leaf is sickly, the blossom dares not expand its beauty, and no fruit arrives at its just size and maturity.

“Turkey, Italy, Egypt! how changed from what ye were when inhabited by ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians! Nature, indeed, still smiles upon them with unaltered favor. The blue mantle of the skies is still spread over them in all its luminous magnificence. There is no reason to suppose the earth less fertile. The corn laughs in the valleys. The tree aspires to Heaven with all its original verdure and majesty. But Man decays; withered, shrunk, enervated; a form without spirit, an animal less happy than the beasts of the field, and more ignoble, inasmuch as degeneracy is baser than native, original, created inferiority. Fallen with the columnar ruins of better times, over which, in these countries, he often tramples, Man himself appears little better than a ruin, displaying all the deformity of the mouldering pile, with scarcely any vestige of its former magnificence.

“Government (so called) has counteracted the beneficence of nature. The Men are fallen; while the human figures, with their internal and external organization, continue yet, in a great measure, the same. They are inactive and pusillanimous. They aspire at no extraordinary excellence or achievements, but crouch beneath their despot, glad of the poor privilege allowed them by a fellow-creature, as weak and more wicked than themselves, to eat, drink, sleep, and die. Any pre-eminent degree of merit among them would render the distinguished possessor of it fatally illustrious, the certain object of a tyrant’s vengeance; and they find their best security in their want of virtue. By a voluntary submission to contempt, they retain and transmit the privilege of breathing, and build the bulwark of their safety on their personal insignificance.

“Fear must, of necessity, become the predominant passion in all countries subject to the uncontrolled dominion of an individual and his ministers: but fear chills the blood and freezes the faculties. Under its icy influence there can arise no generous emulation, no daring spirit of adventure. Enterprise is considered as dangerous, not merely from the general casualty of all human affairs, but because it excites notice, and alarms the jealousy of selfish power. Under a despotic government, to steal through life unobserved, to creep, with timid caution, through the vale of obscurity, is the first wisdom; and to be suffered to die in old age, without the prison, the chain, the dagger, or the poisoned bowl, is the highest pitch of human felicity.

“Ignorance of the grossest kind, ignorance of man’s nature and rights, ignorance of all that tends to make and keep us happy, disgraces and renders wretched more than half the earth, at this moment, in consequence of its subjugation to despotic power. Ignorance, robed in imperial purple, with Pride and Cruelty by her side, sways an iron sceptre over nearly both hemispheres. In the finest and largest regions of this planet which we inhabit, are no liberal pursuits and professions, no contemplative delights, nothing of that pure, intellectual employment which raises man from the mire of sensuality and sordid care, to a degree of excellence and dignity which we conceive to be angelic and celestial. Without knowledge, or the means of obtaining it; without exercise or excitements, the mind falls into a state of infantine imbecility and dotage, or acquires a low cunning, intent only on selfish and mean pursuits, such as is visible in the more ignoble of the irrational creatures—in foxes, apes, and monkeys. Among nations so corrupted, the utmost effort of genius is a court intrigue or a ministerial cabal.

“A degradation of the understanding, like this, is usually accompanied with depravity of heart. From an inability to find pleasure and honorable employment in the energies of thought, in noble and virtuous actions, in refined conversation, in arts, in commerce, in learning, arises a mischievous activity in trifles, a perversion of nature, a wantonness of wickedness, productive of flagitious habits, which renders the partaker of reason the most despicable and detestable animal in the whole circle of existence. Thus sunk under the pressure of despotism, who can recognize, notwithstanding the human shape they bear, the lineal descendants of Egyptian, Grecian, Roman worthies, the glory of their times, the luminaries of their own country and the world, the instructors and benefactors of human nature? Thus the image of the Deity, stamped on man at his creation, is defiled or utterly effaced by government, instituted and exercised by man over his fellow-man; and his kindred to Heaven is known no more by the divine resemblance. A bad government is therefore the curse of the earth, the scourge of man, the grand obstacle to the divine will, the most copious source of all moral evil, and for that reason, of all misery; but of bad governments, none are comparable, in their mischievous effects, to the despotic.

“But if despotism in its extreme produces consequences thus malignant, reason will infer, and experience will justify the inference, that all the subordinate degrees of despotism are proportionally destructive. However it may be disguised by forms, it is ever seeking its own increase and aggrandizement, by openly crushing or secretly undermining the fabric of liberty: it is ever encroaching on the privileges and enjoyments of those who are subjected to it; greedily, though foolishly, wishing to engross every good of every kind in this sublunary state, except the good of virtue.

“Power, though limited by written laws, in the hands of mortal men, poorly educated, and surrounded by sycophants and flatterers, who wish, by partaking the power, to partake also of its profits and distinctions, and thus gratify at once their pride and avarice, is always endeavouring to extend itself beyond the limitations; and requires to be watched with the most jealous eye, by all who are subject to it, and to be restrained within its bounds by the manifest efforts, and the most determined resolution of virtue. Every engine of artifice and terror will be used to repress such virtue: but the friend of man and of his country will defy persecution, fines, imprisonment, and death, in attempting, by every lawful and rational means, to push back the gigantic strides of encroaching despotism, more destructive of happiness than an earthquake or a pestilence. A country deserves no love, when it ceases to be a country of liberty. Human beings constitute a country, and not a soil in a certain latitude; and an attachment to liberty is the truest patriotism.

“It is therefore highly expedient, whenever a people, free by law and constitution, appear in the smallest degree to remit their attention to the preservation of freedom, to urge them, by the most serious admonition, to an immediate resumption of their vigilance. While they slumber and sleep, lulled by the Circean cup of corruption, the enemy is awake, and busily making his insidious approaches to the citadel. Every inch of ground, they carelessly relinquish, is eagerly seized by the covetous possessor of dominion; the love of which, like the love of money, increases by accession. Nor are there ever wanting numbers of artful men, who stimulate a weak or a wicked ruler in his encroachments; sensible as they are, that their own power and privileges will be augmented with those of said ruler, whose exclusive favour they have gained by sycophantic arts, and by co-operations in the fallacious service of enlarging his power. The more the power of the ruler is augmented, the greater will be the emoluments of office. In the view of American, as well as European tories, a star shines with higher lustre, a riband displays a brighter hue, a title soothes the ear with sweeter music, when conferred by a mighty potentate far exalted above vulgar control, and who holds his power in contempt of the people. If kings can be once elevated to the rank of Heaven’s vicegerents, how must admiring plebians idolize their choice favours and their prime favourites? There is always, therefore, a set of men (to whom pomp and vanity are the chief good) who are continually endeavouring to add glory and greatness to the orb from which they derive their own lustre. Moons and satellites would shine faintly indeed, unless the sun of the system glittered with intolerable effulgence. If the sun were shorn of its beams, their native opaqueness would pass without notice.

“Natural rights are those which appertain to man, in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.—Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for foundation, some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.

“From this short review, it will be easy to distinguish between that class of natural rights which man retains after entering into society, and those which he throws into the common stock as a member of society.

“The natural rights which he retains, are all those in which the power to execute is as perfect in the individual as the right itself. Among this class, as is before-mentioned, are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind: consequently, religion is one of those rights. The natural rights which are not retained, are all those in which, though the right is perfect in the individual, the power to execute them is defective. They answer not this purpose. A man, by natural right, has a right to judge in his own cause; and so far as the right of the mind is concerned, he never surrenders it: but what availeth it him to judge, if he has not the power to redress? He therefore deposits this right in the common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right.

“From these premises, two or three certain conclusions will follow.

“First, That every civil right grows out of a natural right; or, in other words, is a natural right enchanged, (or extended.)

“Secondly, That civil power, properly considered as such, is made up of the aggregate of that class of the natural rights of man, which becomes defective in the individual in point of power, and answers not his purpose; but when collected to a focus, becomes competent to the purpose of every one.

“Thirdly, That the power produced from the aggregate of natural rights, (imperfect in power in the individual,) cannot be applied to invade the natural rights which are retained in the individual, and in which the power to execute is as perfect as the right itself.

“We have now, in a few words, traced man from a natural individual to a member of society, and shown, or endeavoured to show, the quality of the natural rights retained, and of those which are exchanged for civil rights. Let us now apply these principles to governments.

“In casting our eyes over the world, it is extremely easy to distinguish the governments which have arisen out of society, or out of the social compact, from those which have not: but to place this in a clearer light than what a single glance may afford, it will be proper to take a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen and on which they have been founded.

“They may all be comprehended under three heads. First, Superstition. Secondly, Power. Thirdly, The common interest of society, and the common rights of man.

“The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerers, and the third of reason.

“When a set of artful men pretended, through the medium of oracles, to hold intercourse with the Deity, as familiarly as they now march up the back-stairs in European courts, the world was completely under the government of superstition. The oracles were consulted, and whatever they were made to say, became the law; and this sort of government lasted as long as this sort of superstition lasted.

“After these a race of conquerors arose, whose government, like that of William the Conquerer, was founded in power, and the sword assumed the name of a sceptre. Governments thus established, last as long as the power to support them lasts; but that they might avail themselves of every engine in their favour, they united fraud to force, and set up an idol which they called Divine Right, and which in imitation of the Pope, who affects to be spiritual and temporal, and in contradiction to the founder of the Christian religion, twisted itself afterwards into an idol of another shape, called Church and State. The key of St. Peter, and the key of the Treasury, became quartered on one another, and the wondering, cheated multitude, worshipped the invention.

“When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for his honor and happiness, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.

“We have now to review the governments which arise out of society, in contradistinction to those which arose out of superstition and conquest.

“It has been thought a considerable advance towards establishing the principles of freedom to say, that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed: but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for, as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government; and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.

“To possess ourselves of a clear idea of what government is, or ought to be, we must trace it to its origin. In doing this, we shall easily discover that governments must have arisen, either out of the people, or over the people. Mr. Burke has made no distinction. He investigates nothing to its source, and therefore he confounds every thing; but he has signified his intention of undertaking, at some future opportunity, a comparison between the constitutions of England and France. As he thus renders it a subject of controversy, by throwing the gauntlet, I take him upon his own ground. It is in high challenges that high truths have the right of appearing; and I accept it with the more readiness because it affords me, at the same time, an opportunity of pursuing the subject with respect to governments arising out of society.

“But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word: we must fix also a standard signification to it.

“A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and whenever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting a government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article, and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organized, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and, in fine, every thing that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government, what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them. It only acts in conformity to the laws made, and the government is, in like manner, governed by the constitution.”

“Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance, but is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope, armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the selling or granting indulgences. The former is church and state, and the latter is church and traffic.

“But toleration may be viewed in a much stronger light. Man worships not himself, but his Maker; and the liberty of conscience which he claims is not for the service of himself, but of his God. In this case, therefore, we must necessarily have the associated idea of two beings: the mortal who renders the worship, and the Immortal Being who is worshipped. Toleration, therefore, places itself, not between man and man, nor between church and church, nor between one denomination of religion and another, but between God and man; between the being who worships, and the Being who is worshipped; and by the same act of assumed authority by which it tolerates man to pay his worship, it presumptuously and blasphemously sets itself up to tolerate the Almighty to receive it.

“Were a bill brought into any parliament, entitled, ‘An Act to tolerate or grant liberty to the Almighty to receive the worship of a Jew or a Turk, or prohibit the Almighty from receiving it,’ all men would startle, and call it blasphemy. There would be an uproar. The presumption of toleration in religious matters would then present itself unmasked; but the presumption is not less because the name of ‘man’ only appears to those laws, for the associated idea of the worshipper and the worshipped cannot be separated. Who, then, art thou, vain dust and ashes! by whatever name thou art called—whether a king, a bishop, a church or a state, a parliament, or any thing else, that obtrudest thine insignificance between the soul of man and its Maker? Mind thine own concerns. If he believes not as thou believest, it is a proof that thou believest not as he believeth, and there is no earthly power can determine between you.

“With respect to what are called denominations of religion, if every one is left to judge of their own religion, there is no such thing as a religion that is wrong; but if they are to judge of each others religion, there is no such a thing as a religion that is right, and therefore all the world is right, or all the world is wrong. But with respect to religion itself, without regard to names, and as directing itself from the universal family of mankind to the Divine object of all adoration, it is man bringing to his Maker the fruits of his heart; and though those fruits may differ from each other, like the fruits of the earth, the grateful tribute of every one is accepted.

“A bishop of Durham, or a bishop of Winchester, or the archbishop who heads the dukes, will not refuse a tythe-sheaf of wheat because it is not a cock of hay, nor a cock of hay because it is not a sheaf of wheat, nor a pig because it is neither one nor the other; but these same persons, under the figure of an established church, will not permit their Maker to receive the varied tythes of man’s devotion.”

“It is attributed to Henry the Fourth, of France, a man of an enlarged and benevolent heart, that he proposed, about the year 1610, a plan for abolishing war in Europe. The plan consisted in constituting an European Congress, or, as the French author styles it, a Pacific Republic, by appointing delegates from the several nations, who were to act as a court of arbitration in any disputes that might arise between nation and nation. .

“Had such a plan been adopted at the time it was proposed, the taxes of England and France, as two of the parties, would have been at least ten millions sterling annually to each nation less than they were at the commencement of the French Revolution.

“To conceive a cause why such a plan has not been adopted, (and that instead of a congress for the purpose of preventing war, it has been called only to terminate a war, after a fruitless expense of several years,) it will be necessary to consider the interest of governments as a distinct interest to that of nations.

“Whatever is the cause of taxes to a nation, becomes also the means of revenue to a government. Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretence of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old governments; and to establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to nations, would be to take from such governments the most lucrative of its branches. The frivolous matters upon which war is made, show the disposition and avidity of governments to uphold the system of war., and betray the motives upon which they act.”

“Many, who have arisen to high elevation of rank or fortune, seem to think that their nature has undergone a real metamorphosis; that they are refined by a kind of chemical process, sublimed by the sunshine of royal favor, and separated from the feces, the dross, and the dregs of ordinary humanity—that humanity of which the mass of mankind partake, and which, imperfect as it is, God created. They seem to themselves raised to a pinnacle, from which they behold, with sentiments of indifference or contempt, all two-legged and unfeathered beings of inferior order, placed in the vale, as ministers of their pride and slaves of their luxury, or else burdens of the earth, and superfluous sharers of existence.

“The endeavor of their lives, never employed in the essential service of society, is to keep the vulgar at a distance, lest their own pure nature should be contaminated by the foul contagion. Their offspring must be taught, in the first instance, to know and revere, not God, not man, but their own rank in life. The infants are scarcely suffered to breathe the common air, to feel the common sun, or to walk upon the common earth. Immured in nurseries till the time for instruction arrives, they are then surrounded by a variety of domestic tutors. And what is the first object in their education? Is it the improvement of their minds, the acquisition of manly sentiment, useful knowledge, expanded ideas, piety, philanthropy? No; it is the embellishment of their persons, an accurate attention to dress, to their teeth, to grace in dancing, attitude in standing, uprightness; not the uprightness of the heart, but the formal and unnatural perpendicularity of a soldier drilled on the parade. The first object with the pupil, and the last, the lesson to be got by heart, and to be repeated by night and by day, is an adequate conception of his own native consequence, a disposition to extend the influence of rank and riches, and to depress and discourage the natural tendency of personal merit to rise to distinction by its own elastic force.

“Their masters themselves are to be dependent on the caprice of wealthy pupils, or a rebellion may ensue. Such an event, indeed, is sometimes devoutly wished, as it affords opportunities for embryo heroes to show their prowess and their noble pride. Every ebullition of spirits, as it is candidly called, displaying itself in insolence or ill usage of the inferior ranks—defenceless old men or women, and the poor in general—is remembered and cherished with care, as a flattering prognostic of future eminence in the cabinet, the senate, at the bar, or in the field. Justice, generosity, humility, are words, indeed, in the Dictionary, and may adorn a declamation; but insolence, extravagance, and pride, must mark the conduct of those who are sent, rather to support the dignity of native grandeur by the spirit of arrogance, than to seek wisdom and virtue with the docility of modest and ingenuous disciples. Practical oppression of inferiors is one of the first elements of aristocratical education, and the order of Faggs (as they are called) contributes much to familiarize the exercise of future despotism. Mean submissions prepare the mind, in its turn, to tyrannize.”

“Those who are possessed of exorbitant power, who pant for its extension, and tremble at the apprehension of losing it, are always sufficiently artful to dwell with emphasis on the evils of licentiousness, under which opprobrious name they wish to stigmatize liberty. They describe the horrors of anarchy and confusion in the blackest colors, and boldly affirm that they are the necessary consequences of intrusting the people with power. Indeed, they hardly condescend to recognize the idea of a People; but, whenever they speak of the mass of the community, denominate them the mob, the rabble, or the swinish multitude. Language is at a loss for appellatives, significant of their contempt for those who are undistinguished by wealth or titles, and is obliged to content itself with such words as reptiles, scum, dregs, or the many headed monster.

“Man, that noble animal, formed with powers capable of the sublimest virtues, possessed of reason, and tremulously alive to every finer feeling, is degraded by his fellow-man, when dressed in a little brief authority, to a rank below that of the beast of the field; for the beasts of the field are not treated with epithets of contumely, but regarded with a degree of esteem. The proud grandee views the horses in his stable, and the dogs in his kennel, with affection, pampers them with food, lodges them in habitations, not only commodious, but luxurious; and, at the same time, despises his fellow creatures, scarcely fed, wretchedly clothed, and barely sheltered in the neighboring cottage. And if his fellow creature dares to remonstrate, his complaint is contumacy and sedition, and his endeavor to meliorate his own state and that of his miserable neighbor, by the most lawful means, downright treason and rebellion.

“Villainous oppression on one hand, and, on the other, contemptible submission! If such acquiescence, under the most iniquitous inequality; such wretchedness, without the privilege of complaint, is the peace, the order, and the tranquillity of despotism; then peace, order, and tranquility change their nature, and become the curse and bane of human nature. Welcome, in comparison, all the feuds, animosities, and revolutions attributed to a state of freedom, for they are symptoms of life and robust health, while the repose of despotism is the deadness of a palsy. Life, active, enterprising life, with all its tumult, disaster, and disappointment, is to be preferred to the silence of death, the stillness of desolation.

“But I deny that a love of liberty, or a state of liberty, is, of necessity, productive of any injurious or fatal disorder. I presuppose that the minds of the people, even the lowest of the people, are duly enlightened; that the savageness of gross ignorance is mitigated by culture—by that culture which all well-regulated states are solicitous to bestow on every partaker of the rational faculty.

“In a state of liberty, every man learns to value himself as man; to consider himself as of importance in the system which himself has approved and contributed to establish, and therefore resolves to regulate his own behavior consistently with its safety and preservation. He feels as a proprietor, not as a tenant. He loves the state because he participates in it. His obedience is not the cold, reluctant result of terror, but the lively, cheerful, and spontaneous effect of love. The violation of laws formed on the pure principle of general beneficence, and to which he has given his full assent by a just and perfect representation, he considers as a crime of the deepest dye. He will think freely, and speak freely, of the constitution. He will incessantly endeavor to improve it, and enter seriously into all political debates. In the collision of agitated minds sparks will sometimes be emitted, but they will only give a favorable light and a genial warmth. They will never produce any injurious conflagration.

“But I repeat that the people should be enlightened, in every rank, the highest as well as the lowest, to render them capable of perfect liberty, without danger of those evils which its enemies are always asserting to be its unavoidable consequences. The vulgar must be instructed not merely in the arts which tend to the acquisition, increase, and preservation of money, but in a generous philosophy. They must be liberalized. They must early learn to view human life and society in their just light; to consider themselves as essential parts of a whole, the integrity of which is desirable to every component member. Their taste will improve with their understanding; and they will see the beauty of order, while they are convinced of its utility. Thus principled by virtue, and illuminated with knowledge, they will eagerly return, after every deviation, which even a warmth of virtue may cause, to regular obedience, and to all the functions of citizens; valuing the public peace and prosperity, because they understand clearly that the public happiness is intimately combined with their own. They may infringe laws, from the imperfection of their nature; but they will return to their obedience without force, having” been convinced that no laws are made but such as are necessary to their well-being in society. They will consider laws, not as chains and fetters, but as helmets and shields for their protection. The light of the understanding will correct the eccentricities of the heart; and all deviations, however rapid at their commencement, will be short in extent and transitory in duration.

“Such would be the effect of enlightening the people with political knowledge, and enlarging their minds by pure philosophy. But what say the despots? Like the tyrannical son of Philip, when he reprimanded Aristotle for publishing his Discoveries, they whisper to their myrmidons, ‘Let us diffuse darkness round the land. Let the people be kept in a brutal state. Let their conduct, when assembled, be riotous and irrational as ignorance and our Spies can make it, that they may be brought into discredit, and deemed unfit for the management of their own affairs. Let power be rendered dangerous in their hands, that it may continue unmolested in our own. Let them not taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge, lest they become as we are, and learn to know good and evil.’ ‘Darken your doctrines,’ said the despot Alexander to the great philosopher.

“That such are the sentiments of the men who wish for the extension of royalism or aristocracy, and the depression of the people, is evident from the uneasiness they have shown at all benevolent attempts to diffuse knowledge among the poor. They have expressed, in terms of anger and mortification, their dislike of Sunday schools. The very newspapers which they have engaged in the service of falsehood and toryism, have endeavored to discountenance, by malignant paragraphs, the progress of those patriotic institutions. Scribbiers of books and pamphlets, in the same vile cause, have intimated their apprehensions that the poor may learn to read political books in learning to read their Bible, and that the reading of political books must unavoidably produce discontent. A wretched compliment to the cause which they mean to defend! It is impossible not to infer from their apprehensions, that as men increase in understanding and knowledge, they must see reason to disapprove the systems established. These men breathe the very spirit of despotism, and wish to communicate it. But their conduct, in this instance, is an argument against the spirit which they endeavor to diffuse. Their conduct seems to say, The spirit of despotism is so unreasonable, that it can never be approved by the mass of the people when their reason is suffered to receive its proper cultivation. Their conduct seems to say, Let there be light, and the deformity of despotism will create abhorrence.

“Be the consequence what it may, let the light of knowledge be diffused among all who partake of reason; and let us remember that it was the Lord God Almighty who first said, ‘Let There Be Light.'”

“There is nothing which I can so reluctantly pardon in the great ones of this world, as the little value they entertain for the life of a man. Property, if seized or lost, may be restored; and, without property, man may enjoy a thousand delightful pleasures of existence. The sun shines as warmly on the poor as on the rich, and the gale of health breathes its balsam into the cottage casement on the heath no less sweetly and salubriously than into the portals of the palace; but can the lords of this world, who are so lavish of the lives of their inferiors, with all their boasted power, give the cold heart to beat again, or relume the light of the eye once dimmed by the shades of death? Accursed despots, show me your authority for taking away that which ye never gave, and cannot give; for undoing the work of God, and extinguishing the lamp of life which was illuminated with a ray from heaven. Where is your charter to privilege murder? You do the work of Satan, who was a destroyer; and your right, if you possess any, must have originated from the father of mischief and misery.

“Yet take a view of the world, and you will immediately be led to conclude that scarcely any thing is viler than human life. Crimes which have very little moral evil, if any, and which, therefore, cannot incur the vengeance of a just and merciful Deity, are punished with death at a human tribunal. I mean state crimes—such actions, conduct, speeches, as are made crimes by despots, but are not recognized as such in the decalogue; such as may proceed from the purest and most virtuous principle, from the most enlarged benevolence, from wisdom and unaffected patriotism; such as may proceed from mere warmth of temper, neither intending nor accomplishing any mischief; the mere effects of error, as innocent, too, in its consequences as its origin. But the despot is offended or frightened; for guilt trembles at the least alarm, and nothing but the blood of the accused can expiate the offence.

“Yet, numerous as are the innocent victims of the tribunal, where to offend the state is the greatest abomination that man can commit, they are lost and disappear when compared to the myriads sacrificed to the demon of war. Despotism delights in war. It is its element. As the bull knows, by instinct, that his strength is in his horns, and the eagle trusts in his talons, so the despot feels his puissance most when surrounded by soldiery arrayed for battle. With the sword in his hand, and his artillery around him, he rejoices in his might and glories in his greatness. Blood must mark his path; and his triumph is incomplete till death and destruction stalk over the land, the harbingers of his triumphant cavalcade.

“We hear much of necessary wars; but it is certainly true, that a real, absolute, unavoidable necessity for war, such as alone can render it just, has seldom occurred in the history of man. The pride, the wanton cruelty of absolute princes, caring nothing for human life, have, in all ages, without the least necessity, involved the world in war; and therefore it is the common duty of all mankind to abolish absolute power, and to discourage, by every lawful means, the spirit that leads to any degree of it. No individual, however good, is fit to be trusted with so dangerous a deposit. His’ goodness may be corrupted by the magnitude of the trust; and it is the nature of power, uncontrolled by fear or law, to vitiate the best dispositions. He who would have shuddered to spill a drop of blood in a hostile contest, as a private man, shall deluge whole provinces, as an absolute prince, and laugh over the subjugated plains which he has fertilized with human gore.

“What are the chief considerations with such men, previously to going to war and at its conclusion? Evidently the expense of Money. Little is said or thought of the lives lost, or devoted to be lost, except as matters of pecuniary value. Humanity, indeed, weeps in silence and solitude in the sequestered shade of private life; but is a single tear shed in courts, and camps, and cabinets? When men high in command, men of fortune and family, fall, their deeds are blazoned, and they figure in history; but who, save the poor widow and the orphan, inquire after the very names of the rank and file? There they lie, a mass of human flesh, not so much regretted by the despots as the horses they rode, or the arms they bore. While ships often go down to the bottom, struck by the iron thunderbolts of war, and not a life is saved, the national loss is estimated by the despot according to the weight of metal wasted, and the magnitude and expense of the wooden castle.

“God, we read, made man in his own image, and our Saviour taught us that he was the heir of immortality. God made no distinction of persons; but behold a being, born to a sceptre, though a poor, puny, shivering mortal like the rest, presumes to sell, and let out for hire, these images of God, to do the work of butchers, in any cause and for any paymaster, on any number of unoffending fellow-creatures, who are standing up in defence of their hearths, their altars, their wives, their children, and their liberty. Great numbers of men, trained to the trade of human butchery, are constantly ready to be let to hire, to carry on the work of despotism, and to support, by the money they earn in this hellish employment, the luxurious vices of the wretch who calls them his property. Can that state of human affairs be right and proper which permits a miscreant, scarcely worthy the name of a man, sunk in effeminacy, the slave of vice—often the most abominable kind of vice—ignorant and illiterate, debilitated with disease, weak in body as in mind, to have such dominion of hundreds of thousands, his superiors by nature, as to let them out for pay, to murder the innocent stranger in cold blood?

“What shall we think of the practice of what is called kidnapping? Is it to be allowed in a free country? Are not men bought, inveigled, or forced by it, as if they were cattle, beasts of the field or the forest, and capable of becoming the property of the purchaser or the captor? .If a nation should behold with patience such a practice increasing and encouraged by the great, would there not be reason to suspect that it had lost the spirit of freedom, and was preparing to submit its neck to the yoke of despotism? Is not an African one of the images of God? Is he not entitled to all the rights of nature, and the society of which he is a member? Does poverty disfranchise a man, rob him of his rights, and render his life a commodity to be bought and sold, or thrown away, at the will of a rich man, who is enabled to take advantage of his want, and add to the misfortune of indigence the curse of slavery? Are a few pieces of silver to be allow. ed, by connivance if not by legal permission, as the price of blood, when poverty, but not the will, consents to the sale?

“Even if boxing were ever to become a spectacle patronized by Congress, and encouraged by a people, there would be reason to fear lest man, as man, had lost his value; lest life were estimated of little price; and lest the spirit of despotism were gradually insinuating itself into the community. There would be reason to fear lest times, like those of the latter Roman emperors, were returning, and that men might be kept like wild beasts, to be brought on the stage and fight for public diversion, and to be murdered for the evening’s amusement of fashionable lords and ladies at an opera-house.

“The dignity of human nature, in despotical countries, is treated as a burlesque. A man is less dignified than a pampered horse, and his life infinitely less valued. But in a land of liberty, like ours, every man should learn to venerate himself and his neighbour, as a noble creature, dependent only on God, on reason, on law. Life, under such circumstances, is a pearl of great price. Every human being, under such circumstances, is of equal value in the sight of God, They, therefore, who, in consequence of civil elevation, hold any man’s life cheap and vile, unless he has forfeited his rights by enormous crimes, are guilty of rebellion against God and nature.”

“Men who undertake to defend any thing contrary to the common sense and common interest of mankind, may hurt the side they intend to defend by promoting a discussion, and calling forth common sense, excited by the common interest, to defend its own cause. Thus, Sir Robert Filmer’s book gave rise both to Sidney’s and Locke’s Defence of Liberty. Thus, Mr. Burke’s Reflections on France drew forth Mr. Paine’s Rights of Man, in which is much excellent matter. Thus, Salmasius’s mercenary invective against the republicans of England in the last century, provoked the great Milton, scarcely less eloquent in prose than in poetry, to defend the right of the people of England to manage in their own country their own concerns, according to their own judgment and inclination.

“Milton and Locke are great names on the side of liberty. But Milton has been treated contemptuously; and some have shown a spirit illiberal enough to detract from his poetry, in revenge for his politics. His last biographer, Dr. Johnson, who had many early prejudices which his most vigorous reason could not to the last subdue, was, by early prejudice, a violent Tory and Jacobite. I think there is reason to believe, that he would easily have been made a convert to popery. I venerate his abilities and virtues; but I cannot help remarking, that his high-church and high-prerogative principles led him to speak less honorably of Milton than he must have done if he had viewed him through a medium undiscolored. Milton was a greater man than Johnson, though I think he went not sufficiently far in his hatred to monarchy and episcopacy. Milton discovered a noble spirit of independence, and his writings contain some of the finest passages that ever were written in vindication of civil liberty. They contributed to raise that spirit which afterwards produced our happy revolution; and I have no doubt but that Milton would have rejoiced under the federal constitution of the United States. It is to writings and a spirit like his, mankind are indebted for liberty. If honest and able minds like Paine’s and Milton’s had not appeared on the part of the people, it is probable that no such thing as a republic would have been found on the face of the earth.

“Free spirits are therefore to be pardoned in some errors, which the propensity of human nature to err must ever render venial ; and the general tendency of their writings to make the mass of mankind free and happy, ought to secure attention to their doctrines and honor to their names. The enemies to the spirit of despotism have seen, with pain, the attempts to lessen these great men in the eyes of the world extended to writers of less renown, but of more recent date. They have seen men, good men in private life, and philosophers, whose discourses and letters have gained the notice and esteem of every enlightened country, reproached, vitified, persecuted, and almost destroyed, because, in consequence of that fine understanding which had done so much in philosophy, they made some discoveries in politics which must forever militate powerfully against the spirit of despotism. Paine, Voltaire, Rosseau, Raynal, Price, Priestley, however different their characters, attainments, and abilities, are all vilified together, (because they have written admirably on the side of liberty,) all involved in one discriminate torrent of obloquy. The partizans of monarchy would persuade us, not only that they were knaves, but fools. Some of them have very exceptionable passages in their works; but where they treat of civil liberty, they plead the cause of human nature. They have not pleaded it unsuccessfully. Political artifices cannot always stifle truth and common sense.

“The independent part of mankind, who detest parties and faction, and mean nothing but the happiness of their fellow creatures, will do well to be upon their guard against the misrepresentations of those who would vilify a Penn, a Locke, a Milton, and a Sidney. Let them read and judge for themselves. The men who are anxious to withhold or extinguish the light, may fairly be suspected of intending to do evil.”

“Civil government does not consist in executions, but in making such provision for the instruction of youth, and the support of age, (and the necessitous,) as to exclude, as much as possible, profligacy from the one, and despair from the other. Hence the cogent necessity of public seminaries of learning being established in the United States by the national and state legislatures. Instead of this, the resources of a country are lavished upon kings, upon courts, upon hirelings, imposters, and prostitutes; and even the poor themselves, with all their wants upon them, are compelled to support the fraud that oppresses them.

“Why is it that scarcely any are executed but the poor? The fact is a proof, among other things, of a wretchedness in their condition. Bred up without morals or information, and cast upon the world without a prospect, they are the exposed sacrifice of vice and legal barbarity. The millions that are superfluously wasted upon governments are more than sufficient to reform those evils, and to benefit the condition of every man in a nation, not included within the purlieus of a court.”

“Man is a progressive animal, and his advance towards improvement is a pleasurable state. Hope cheers his path as he toils up the hill that leads him to something better than he has yet experienced, on its gay summit gilded with sunshine. The labor of the ascent is a delight. But if he cannot help conceiving, from a sense of grievances which he feels, something excellent, to which he is prohibited by coercion from approaching, hope sickens, and ill-humor succeeds to complacency. Hence arises a disagreement between the governed and governors; and the governors, being possessed of the present power, use force and rigor to stifle the rumors of complaint. Coercion but increases the ill-humor, which often lies latent, like the fires of a volcano, for a considerable time, but at last bursts forth with irresistible fury. It is wise, therefore, as well as just, in all governors who have a regard for any thing but their present and private interest, to encourage discussion, to seek improvement of the system, and to reject no reform proposed by great numbers without a cool, a temperate, and a long deliberation. The reasons for rejection should be clearly stated, with the utmost regard to open and ingenuous behavior; and those who remain unconvinced, after all, should not be treated with asperity. Every individual, in a free country, has a right to approve or disapprove the system under which he lives, without peril or control, while he preserves the peace. His peaceable deportment and acquiescence in the opinion of others, contrary to his own conviction, renders him a very meritorious character. He may be won over by gentleness, but force only tends to excite the violence which it would imperiously repel.

“But to tell a man of sense, reading, and reflection, that he must not venture to entertain an opinion on political matters, or the existing government, different from that of the president, the consul, or the king, is an impotent endeavor to exercise a despotism over his mind against which nature revolts, and a manly spirit must rebel. Such a man can usually judge of governments, and all the institutions of social life, better than mere men of business, however high their rank or important their employments—far better than overgrown rich, occupied in vain ceremonies, and usually as little able as inclined to enter into deep disquisition.

“Despotism is so ugly in its form, and so hostile in its nature, to human happiness, that no wonder those who wish to diffuse its spirit are inclined to check and discourage among the people all political investigation. But let it be a rule among those who really value liberty and the rights of man, to use the more diligence in political discussion, in proportion as tories and traitors display a wish to suppress political writings and conversations, and disseminate the doctrine that things are so well constituted as neither to require nor admit any improvement. The representative system takes society and civilization for its basis, reason and experience for its guide.

“As this is the order of nature, the order of government must necessarily follow it, or government will, as we see it does, degenerate into ignorance. The hereditary system, therefore, is as repugnant to human wisdom as to human rights, and is as absurd as it is unjust.

“As the republic of letters brings forward the best literary productions, by giving to genius a fair and universal chance, so the representative system of government is calculated to produce the wisest laws, by collecting wisdom from where it can be found. I smile to myself when I contemplate the ridiculous insignificance into which literature and all the sciences would sink, were they made hereditary; and I carry the same idea into governments. An hereditary governor is as inconsistent as an hereditary author. I know not whether Homer or Euclid had sons; but I will venture an opinion, that if they had, and had left their works unfinished, those sons could not have completed them.

“Do we need a stronger evidence of the absurdity of hereditary government than is seen in the descendants of those men, in any line of life, who once were famous? Is there scarcely an instance in which there is not a total reverse of the character? It appears as if the tide of mental faculties flowed as far as it could in certain channels, and then forsook its course and arose in others. How irrational, then, is the hereditary system which establishes channels of power, in company with which wisdom refuses to flow! By continuing this absurdity, man is perpetually in contradiction with himself. He accepts, for a king, or a chief magistrate, or a legislator, a person whom he would not elect for a constable.

“It appears, to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is, existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.

“This cannot take place in the insipid state of hereditary government, not only because it prevents, but because it operates to benumb. When the mind of a nation is bowed down by any political superstition in its government, such as hereditary succession is, it loses a considerable portion of its powers on all other subjects and objects. Hereditary succession requires the same obedience to ignorance as to wisdom; and when once the mind can bring itself to pay this indiscriminate reverence, it descends below the stature of mental manhood. It is fit to be great only in little things. It acts a treachery upon itself, and suffocates the sensations that urge to detection.”

“Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society, and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependance and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of a civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost every thing which is ascribed to government.

“To understand the nature and quantity of government proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants; and those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a centre.

“But she has gone further. She has not only forced man into society, by a diversity of wants’, which the reciprocal aid of each other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, are essential to his happiness. There is no period in life when this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our being.

“If we examine, with attention, into the composition and constitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to preserve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover that a great part of what is called government is mere imposition.

“Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show, that every thing which government can usefully add thereto has been performed by the common consent of society, without government.

“For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American war, and for a longer period in several of the American states, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments; yet, during this interval, order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resource to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

“So far is it from being true, as has been pretended, that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society, that it acts by a contrary impulse, and brings the latter the closer together. All that part of its organization which it had committed to its government devolves again upon itself, and acts through its medium. When men, as well from natural instinct as from reciprocal benefits, have habituated themselves to social and civilized life, there is always enough of its principles in practice to carry them through any changes they may find necessary or convenient to make in their government. In short, man is so naturally a creature of society, that it is almost impossible to put him out of it.

“Formal government makes but a small part of civilized life; and when even the best that human wisdom can devise is established, it is a thing more in name and idea, than in fact. It is to the great and fundamental principles of society and civilization—to the common usage universally consented to, and mutually and reciprocally maintained—to the unceasing circulation of interest, which, passing through its million channels, invigorates the whole mass of civilized man—it is to these things, infinitely more than to any thing which even the best instituted government can perform, that the safety and prosperity of the individual and of the whole depend.

“The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself: but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense men into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other.

“Man, with respect to all those matters, is more a creature of consistency than he is aware, or than governments would wish him to believe. All the great laws of society are laws of nature. Those of trade and commerce, whether with respect to the intercourse of individuals, or of nations, are laws of mutual and reciprocal interest. They are followed and obeyed, because it is the interest of the parties so to do, and not on account of any formal laws their government may impose or interpose.

“But how often is the natural propensity to society disturbed or destroyed by the operations of government? When the latter instead of being ingrafted on the principles of the former, assumes to exist for itself, and acts by partialities of favour and oppression, it becomes the cause of the mischiefs it ought to prevent.

“If we look back to the riots and tumults, which at various times have happened in England, we shall find that they did not proceed from the want of a government, but that government was itself the generating cause; instead of consolidating society it divided it; it deprived it of its natural cohesion, and engendered discontents and disorders, which otherwise would not have existed. In those associations, which men promiscuously form for the purpose of trade, or of any concern, in which government is totally out of the question, and in which they act merely on the principles of society, we see how naturally the various parties unite; and this shows, by comparison, that government, so far from being always the cause or means of order, are often the destruction of it. The riots of 1780 had no other source than the remains of those prejudices, which the government itself had encouraged. But with respect to England there are also other causes.

“Excess and inequality in taxation, however disguised in the means, never fail to appear in their effects. As a great mass of the community are thrown thereby into poverty and discontent, they are constantly on the brink of commotion; and, deprived, as they unfortunately are, of the means of information, are easily heated to outrage. Whatever the apparent cause of any riots may be, the real one is always want of happiness. It shows. that something is wrong in the system of government, that hires the felicity by which society is to be preserved.

“But as fact is superior to reasoning, the instance of America presents itself to confirm these observations.—If there is a country in the world, where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America.

“Can we possibly suppose that if governments had originated in a right principle, and had not an interest in pursuing a wrong one, that the world could have been in the wretched and quarrelsome condition we have seen it? What inducement has the farmer, while following the plough, to lay aside his peaceful pursuits, and go to war with the farmer of another country? or what inducement has the manufacturer? What is dominion to them, or to any class of men in a nation? Does it add an acre to any man’s estate, to raise its value? Are not conquest and defeat each of the same price, and taxes the never-failing consequence?—Though this reasoning may be good to a nation, it is not so to a government. War is the Pharo table of governments, and nations the dupes of the game.

“If there is any thing to wonder at in this miserable scene of governments, more than might be expected, it is the progress which the peaceful arts of agriculture, manufacture, and commerce have made, beneath such a long accumulating load of discouragement and oppression. It serves to show, that instinct in animals does not act with stronger impulse, than the principles of society and civilization operate in man.”

“To meliorate the condition of human nature can be the only rational end of government. It cannot be designed to favour one description of men, a Minority of men, at the expense of all others; who having received life from him who alone can give it, received at the same time a right to enjoy it in liberty and security. This was the charter of God and nature; which no mortal, however elevated by conquest or inheritance, can annul or violate without impiety. All government which makes not the advancement of human happiness, and the comfort of the individuals who are subject to its control, the prime purpose of its operations, partakes of despotism; and governments which boast of a free constitution, the views even of statesmen and politicians who espoused the cause of liberty, have been too circumscribed. They have been attached to names and families. They seem not to have opened either their eyes or hearts to objects truly great, and affections sincerely catholic and philanthropic. 1 hate to hear public men, who certainly can have no right to their offices, but for the public good, professing themselves of the democratic party, the federal party, the quid party, and appearing to forget, in their zeal for a few distinguished persons, the great mass of the people, the party of human nature. The majority of men are poor and obscure. To them all party attachments to names and families, little known as public benefactors, must appear at once absurd and injurious. They are the persons who stand in most need of protection and assistance from the powerful. The rich under all governments, have a thousand means of procuring either comfort or defence. It is the mass, the poor and middling ranks, unknown to, and unknowing courts or kings, or senators, or legislators, who require all the alleviation which men enlightened by knowledge, furnished with opulence, elevated by office, can afford to lessen the natural evils of life, aggravated by the moral and artificial. Government possesses the power of alleviating and sometimes of removing, that moral and physical evil which embitters existence.—How deplorable, when government become so perverted, as to increase the evil it was designed to cure. Yet this has been, and is now the case on a great part of the globe; insomuch that the learned and judicious Dr. Prideaux, whose integrity is as well known as his ability, used to say, ‘That it was a doubt with him, whether the benefit which the world receives from government, was sufficient to make amends for the calamities which it suffers from the follies, mistakes, and mal-administration of those who manage it.’

“When it is considered how little the most boasted governments have been able or inclined to prevent the greatest calamity of the world, the frequent recurrence of War, it is natural to conclude, that there has been some radical defect or error in all government, hitherto instituted on the face of the earth. Violence may be used where there is no government. Governments pretend to direct human affairs by reason; but war is a dereliction of reason, a renunciation of all that refines and improves human nature, and an appeal to brute force. Man descends from the heights to which philosophers and legislators had raised him in society; takes the sword, und surpasses the beasts of the forest in ferocity. Yet, so far from thinking himself culpable, he deems his destructive employment the most honorable of all human occupations, because governments have politically contrived to throw a glossy mantle, covered with tinsel and spangles, over the horrors of bloodshed and devastation. If governments with all their riches and power, all their vaunted arts and sciences, all the mysterious policy of cabinets, all the wisdom and eloquence of deliberating senates, are unable to preserve the blessing of peace, uninterrupted, during the short space of twenty years together, they must be dreadfully faulty, either in their constitution or their administration. In what consists the fault? I think in the selfish spirit of despotism, pursuing the sordid or vain-glorious purposes of the governors, with little regard to the real, substantial happiness of the governed. Despotism in some mode or degree, has transformed the shepherds of the flock into wolves; has appropriated the fleeces, shed the blood of the innoxious animals, tore down the fences of the sheepfold, and laid waste the pasture.

“Where is the government that has distributed property so equitably, as that none to whom existence has been given should want the necessaries of existence; and where helpless age and infirmity, as well as helpless infancy, should find a pillar to repose on, and plenty to nourish it, without supplicating a Man, equal by nature, for the cold scanty relief of eleemosynary charity? The truth is, power gradually engrosses property; and the selfish spirit of despotism is ever striving to appropriate all the good, of every kind, which the earth is able to produce.

“The truth is, national glory, the trappings of a court, the parade of armies, the finery of external appearance, have been the silly objects of state solicitude; while Man was left to bewail, in the recesses of want and obscurity, that his mother had brought him into a world of woe, without means of comfort or support, with little other prospect than to labour without ceasing, to fight those who never injured him, and to die prematurely, unknown and unlamented. All his wretchedness has been aggravated by the insults of unfeeling pride; the neglect of aristocratic grandeur, which, under the spirit of despotism, mocked by the false pageantry of life, those who were doomed to feel its real misery. The vain pomp and glory of the world, held out the finger of scorn to that wretchedness which itself contributed to create, and would not relieve.

“After all the language of court adulation, the praises of poets and orators, the statues and monuments erected to the fame (of conquerors and rulers,) the malignant consequences of their actions prove them to have been no other than conspirators against the improvement and happiness of the human race. What were their means of conducting their governments, of exercising this office of Heaven’s vicegerents? Crafty, dishonest arts, oppression, extortion; and above all Fire and Sword. They dared to ape the thunder and lightning of Heaven, and, assisted by the machinations of the Grand Adversary of man, rendered their imitative contrivances for destruction more terrible and deadly than the original. Their imperial robe derived its deep crimson color from human blood; and the gold and diamonds of their diadems were accumulated treasures wrung from the famished bowels of the poor, born only to toil for others, to be robbed, to be wounded, to be trodden under foot and forgotten in an early grave. How few, in comparison, have reached the age of three score and ten, and yet, in the midst of youth and health, their days have been full of labor and sorrow. Heaven’s vicegerents seldom bestowed a thought upon them, except when it was necessary either to inveigle or to force them to take the sword and march to slaughter. Where God caused the sun to shine gaily, and scattered plenty over the land, his vicegerents diffused famine and solitude. The valley which laughed with corn, they watered with the tear of artificial hunger and distress; the plain that was bright with verdure, and gay with flowrets, they dyed red with gore. They operated on the world as the blast of an east wind, as a pestilence, as a deluge, as a conflagration, And have they yet ceased from the earth? Cast your eyes over the plains of Europe, the wilds of Africa’, and the gardens of Asia, European despotism has united with oriental, to unparadise the provinces of India.

“Thus, if God, in his wisdom, has thought fit to allot us a few evils for the purpose of discipline, the Great Ones of the world have endeavored to make the whole of life an evil to the despised and neglected Million. The world is now old, and may profit by the lessons of Experience. She has decisively declared, that Monarchy is the grand source of human misfortune, the Pandora’s box out of which every curse has issued, and scarcely left even Hope behind. Despotism, in its extreme, is fatal to human happiness, and, in all its degrees and modifications, injurious. The spirit of it ought therefore to be suppressed on the first and slightest appearance. It should be the endeavor of every good man, pro virili, as far as his best abilities will extend, to extirpate all arbitrary government from the globe. It should be swept from the earth, or trampled under foot, from China to Peru. But no power is capable of crushing the Hydra, less than the Herculean arm of a whole People.

“I lay it down as an incontrovertible axiom, that all who are born into the world have a right to be as happy in it as the unavoidable evils of nature, and their own disordered passions, will allow. The grand object of all good government, of all government that is not an usurpation, must be to promote this happiness, to assist every individual in its attainment and security. A government chiefly anxious about the emoluments of office, chiefly employed in augmenting its own power and aggrandizing its obsequious instruments, while it neglects the comfort and safety of individuals in middle or low life, is despotic and a nuisance. It is founded on folly as well as wickedness, and like the freaks of insanity, deals mischief and misery around, without being able to ascertain or limit its extent and duration. If it should not be punished as criminal, let it be coerced as dangerous. Let the straight waistcoat be applied; but let Men, judging fellow men, always spare the axe.

“For what rational purpose could we enter into life? To vex, torment, and slay each other with the sword? No, by the sweet mercy of Heaven! I firmly believe, that the great King of Kings, intended every son and daughter of Adam to be as happy as the eternal laws of Nature, under his control, permit them to be in this sublunary state. Execrated and exploded be all those politics, with Machiavel, or the Evil Being, their author, which introduce systems of government and manners among the great, inconsistent with the happiness of the majority. Must real tragedies be forever acting on the stage of human life? Must men go on forever to be tormentors and executioners of men? Is the world never to profit by the experience of ages? Must not even attempts be made to improve the happiness of life, to improve government, though all arts and sciences are encouraged in their progress to perfection? Must the grand art, the sublimest science, that of meliorating the condition of human nature, be stationary? No; forbid it reason, virtue, benevolence, religion! Let the world be made more and more comfortable, to all who are allowed the glorious privilege of seeing the sun and breathing the liberal air. Our forefathers were oppressed by priests and despots, and driven from their natal country to seek an asylum among the more merciful savages of North America. Let us explode that folly, that priest-craft, that bigotry which compelled them to embark on a stormy sea, and seek refuge in a howling wilderness; and let every mortal under the cope of heaven enjoy existence, as long as nature will allow the feasts to continue, without any restraints on liberty, but such as the majority of uncorrupted guests unite in agreeing to be salutary, and therefore conducive to the general festivity.”

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THOMAS JEFFERSON: VIRGINIA BILL FOR ESTABLISHING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

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Section I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint: that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone: that the impious presumption of legislature and ruler, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men. have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind, that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; and therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to office of trust or emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injudiciously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminals who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because, he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless, by human interposition, disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Sect, II. We, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Sect. III. And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that, therefore, to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter parsed to repeal the present or to narrow its operations, such act will be an infringement of natural right.—Writings of Jefferson: Paul Ford Ed., ii, 237. (1786.)

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THOMAS PAINE’S COMMON SENSE (1776): A Prophetic Warning to America

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NOTE: When I read the excerpt in the picture above it inspires great admiration for the men who (led by God) framed this nation! How great and how awesome they must have felt, they KNEW they were doing it for the glory of God and for his son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Many like Paine, expressed just those sentiments in their writings. They created this nation out of a love and reverence for God, and for their fellow man. If you do not know many of the original founders were against and fought against slavery, even though some owned slaves themselves, they found the practice abhorrent, and due to feeling the need to compromise with two of the southern colonies delegates who would not support it otherwise, Jefferson omitted his anti-slavery paragraph from what became the Declaration of Independence. However in their wisdom, they left that question open, to be answered by later generations of their descendents, who answered; “Indeed! All men are created equal and there will be no slavery amongst US!”

Adding this in preparation for Chapter 3 of  “The Declaration of Independence: Its History”

The entire text of Paine’s “Common Sense” written in 1776

See also: Thomas Paine’s Epistle to Quakers: War of Independence and 2nd Amendment

THOMAS PAINE’S COMMON SENSE: ADDRESSED TO THE INHABITANTS OF AMERICA, ON THE FOLLOWING INTERESTING SUBJECTS, viz.

I. OF THE ORIGIN AND DESIGN OF GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL; WITH CONCISE REMARKS ON THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION.

II. OF MONARCHY AND HEREDITARY SUCCESSION.

III. THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF AMERICAN AFFAIRS.

IV. OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA; WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLECTIONS.

TO WHICH IS ADDED AN APPENDIX.

Man knows no master save creating heaven,
Or those whom choice and common good ordain.
                                                                         Thompson.

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

As a long and violent abuse of power is generally the means of calling the right of it in question, (and in matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry,) and as the king of England hath undertaken in his own right, to support the parliament in what he calls theirs, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpations of either.

In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise and the worthy need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious or unfriendly, will cease of themselves, unless too much pains is bestowed upon their conversion.

The cause of America is, in a great measure, the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all lovers of mankind are affected, and in the event of which, their affections are interested. The laying a country desolate with fire and sword, declaring war against the natural rights of all mankind, and extirpating the defenders thereof from the face of the earth, is the concern of every man to whom nature hath given the power of feeling; of which class, regardless of party censure, is the AUTHOR.
Philadelphia, Feb. 14, 1776.

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COMMON SENSE.

ON THE ORIGIN AND DESIGN OF GOVERNMENT IN
GENERAL, WITH CONCISE REMARKS ON
THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last is a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united, would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed: hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every different want would call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune, would be death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.

Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which, would supercede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen, that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other; and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Some convenient tree will afford them a state-house, under the branches of which the whole colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. It is more than probable that their first laws will have the title only of Regulation?, and be enforced by no other penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament every man by natural right will have a seat.

But as the colony increases, the public concerns will increase likewise, and the distance at which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small, their habitations near, and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out the convenience of their consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those have who appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would were they present. If the colony continue increasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part sending its proper number; and that the elected might never form to themselves an interest separate from the electors, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often: because as the elected might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the electors, in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this, (not on the unmeaning name of King,) depends the strength of government and the happiness of the governed.

Here, then, is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, it is right.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered; and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view, I offer a few remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England. That it was noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the world was overrun with tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise is easily demonstrated.

Absolute governments, (though the disgrace of human nature,) have this advantage with them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs, know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies, some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine.

I know it is difficult to get over local or long standing prejudices, yet if we will suffer ourselves to examine the component parts of the English constitution, we shall find them to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new republican materials.

  1. —The remains of monarchical tyranny in the person of the king.
  2. —The remains of aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers.
  3. —The new republican materials, in the persons of the commons, on whose virtue depends the freedom of England.

The two first, by being hereditary, are independent of the people; wherefore in a constitutional sense they contribute nothing towards the freedom of the state.

To say that the constitution of England is a union of three powers, reciprocally checking each other, is farcical, either the words have no meaning, or they are flat contradictions.

To say that the commons is a check upon the king, presupposes two things.

  1. —That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power, is the natural disease of monarchy.
  2. —That the commons by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the crown.

But as the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the king is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!

There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd and useless.

Some writers have explained the English constitution thus the king, say they, is one, the people another; the peers are a house in behalf of the king; the commons in behalf of the people; but this hath all the distinctions of a house divided against itself; [New Testament: Gospel of Mark 3:25] and though the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they appear idle and ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction that words are capable of, when applied to the description of something which either cannot exist, or is too incomprehensible to be within the compass, of description, will be words of sound only, and though they may amuse the ear, they cannot inform the mind, for this explanation includes a previous question, viz. How came the king by a power which the people are afraid to trust, and always obliged to check? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise people, neither can any power, which needs checking, be from God; yet the provision, which the constitution makes, supposes such a power to exist.

But the provision is unequal to the task; the means either cannot or will not accomplish the end, and the whole affair is a felo de se [A felon of himself; a self-murderer]; for as the greater weight will always carry up the less, and as all the wheels of a machine are put in motion by one, it only remains to know which power in the constitution has the most weight, for that will govern; and though the others, or a part of them, may clog, or, as the phrase is, check the rapidity of its motion, yet so long as they cannot stop it, their endeavours will be ineffectual; the first moving power will at last have its way, and what it wants in speed is supplied by time.

That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution needs not be mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence merely from being the giver of places and pensions is self-evident, wherefore, though we have been wise enough to shut and lock a door against absolute monarchy, we at the same time have been foolish enough to put the crown in possession of the key.

The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by king lords and commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries, but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the First hath only made kings more subtle—not more just.

Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and forms, the plain truth is that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and not the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in Turkey.

An inquiry into the constitutional errors in the English form of government is at this time highly necessary; for as we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to others, while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality, so neither are we capable of doing it to ourselves while we remain fettered by any obstinate prejudice. And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one.

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OF MONARCHY AND HEREDITARY SUCCESSION.

Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance; the distinctions of rich and poor, may in a great measure be accounted for, and that without having recourse to the harsh ill sounding names of avarice and oppression. Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the means of riches; and though avarice will preserve a man from being necessitously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.

But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into kings and subjects. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad, the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.

In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there . .were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion. Holland, without a king, hath enjoyed more peace for the last century than any of the monarchical governments of Europe. Antiquity favours the same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first patriarchs have a happy something in them, which vanishes when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.

Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens [Unbelievers, Athiests, and Pagans], from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention that was ever set on foot for the promotion of Idolatry. The heathen paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian world hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!

As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest, cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of Scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. All anti-monarchical parts of Scripture, have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchical governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries, which have their governments yet to form. Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, is the scripture doctrine of courts, yet it is no support of monarchical government, for the Jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to the Romans.

Near three thousand years passed away from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews, under a national delusion, requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases, where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honor, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven.

Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denouneed against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to.

The children of Israel being oppressed by the Midianites, Gideon marched against them with a small army, and victory, through the divine interposition, decided in his favor. The Jews, elate with success, and attributing it to the generalship of Gideon, proposed making him a king, saying, Rule thou over us, Thou and thy son, and thy son’s son. Here was temptation in its fullest extent; not a kingdom only, but an hereditary one, but Gideon in the piety of his soul replied, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you, THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU. Words need not be more explicit; Gideon doth not decline the honor, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive style of a Prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of heaven.

About one hundred years after this, they fell again into the same error. The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable; but so it was, that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel’s two sons, who were intrusted with some secular concerns, they came in an abrupt and clamorous manner to Samuel, saying, Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations. And here we cannot but observe that their motives were bad, viz. that they might be like unto other nations, i. e. the Heathen, whereas their true glory lay in being as much unlike them as possible. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to judge us; and Samuel prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I bro’t them up out of Egypt, even unto this day; wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other Gods; so do they also unto thee. Now there fore hearken unto their voice, howbeit, protest solemnly unto them and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them, i. e. not of any particular king, but the general manner of the kings of the earth, whom Israel was so eagerly copying after. And notwithstanding the great distance of time and difference of manners, the character is still in fashion. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a king. And he said, This shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will take your sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots (this description agrees with the present mode of impressing men) and he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, and will set them to ear his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots; and he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks and to be bakers (this describes the expense and luxury as well as the oppression of kings) and he will take your fields and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants; and he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants (by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favoritism, are the standing vices of kings) and he will take the tenth of your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work: and he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants, and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY. This accounts for the continuation of monarchy; neither do the characters of the few good kings which have lived since, either sanctify the title, or blot out the sinfulness of the origin: the high encomium given of David takes no notice of him officially as a king, but only as a man after God’s own heart. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles. Samuel continued to reason with them, but to no purpose; he set before them their ingratitude, but all would not avail; and seeing them fully bent on their folly, he cried out, I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain (which was then a punishment, being in the time of wheat harvest, it ruined the crops) that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, IN ASKING YOU A KING. So Samuel called unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God that we die not, for WE HAVE ADDED UNTO OUR SINS THIS EVIL, TO ASK A KING. These portions of scripture are direct and positive. They admit of no equivocal construction. That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government is true, or the scripture is false? And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of kingcraft, as priestcraft in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.

To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth, could have a right to set up his own family, in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.

Secondly, as no man at first could possess more public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say “We choose you for our head,” they could not, without manifest injustice to their children, say ” that your children and your children’s children shall reign over ours for ever. Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might, (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue, or a fool. Most wise men in their private sentiments, have ever treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils, which when once established is not easily removed; many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more powerful part shares, with the king, the plunder of the rest.

This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to have had an honourable origin ; whereas it is more than probable, that could we take off the dark covering of antiquity, and trace them to their first rise, we should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners, or pre-eminence in subtilty obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who by increasing in power, and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenceless to purchase their safety by frequent contributions. Yet his electors could have no idea of giving hereditary right to his descendants, because such a perpetual exclusion of themselves was incompatible with the free and unrestrained principles they professed to live by. Wherefore, hereditary succession in the early ages of monarchy could not take place as a matter of claim, but as something casual or complimental; but as few or no records were extant in those days, and traditionary history stuffed with fables, it was very easy, after the lapse of a few generations, to trump up some superstitious tale, conveniently timed Mahomet like, to cram hereditary rights down the throats of the vulgar. Perhaps the disorders which threatened, or seemed to threaten, on the decease of a leader and the choice of a new one (for elections among ruffians could not be very orderly) induced many at first to favor hereditary pretensions; by which means it happened, as it hath happened since, that what at first was submitted to as a convenience, was afterwards claimed as a right.

England, since the conquest, hath known some few good monarchs, but groaned beneath a much larger number of bad ones; yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honorable one. A French bastard landing with an armed banditti, and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original.—It certainly hath no divinity in it. However, it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right, if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the ass and the lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.

Yet I should be glad to ask how they suppose kings came at first? The question admits but of three answers, viz. either by let, by election, or by usurpation. If the first king was taken by lot, it establishes a precedent for the next, which excludes hereditary succession. Saul was by lot, yet the succession was not hereditary, neither does it appear from that transaction that there was any intention it ever should. If the first king of any country was by election, that likewise establishes a precedent for the next; for to say, that the right of all future generations is taken away, by the act of the first electors, in their choice not only of a king, but of a family of kings for ever, hath no parallel in or out of scripture but the doctrine of original sin, which supposes the free will of all men lost in Adam; and from such comparison, and it will admit of no other, hereditary succession can derive no glory. For as in Adam all sinned, and as in the first electors all men obeyed; as in the one all mankind were subjected to Satan, and in the other to sovereignty; as our innocence was lost in the first, and our authority in the last; and as both disable us from re-assuming some former state and privilege, it unanswerably follows that original sin and hereditary succession are parallels. Dishonourable rank! Inglorious connection! Yet the most subtile sophist cannot produce a juster simile.

As to usurpation, no man will be so hardy as to defend it; and that William the Conqueror was an usurper is a fact not to be contradicted. The plain truth is, that the antiquity of English monarchy will not bear looking into.

But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked, and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

Another evil which attends hereditary succession is, that the throne is subject to be possessed by a minor at any age; all which time the regency acting under the cover of a king, have every opportunity and inducement to betray their trust. The same national misfortune happens, when a king worn out with age and infirmity, enters the last stage of human weakness. In both these cases the public becomes the prey to every miscreant, who can tamper successfully with the follies either of age or infancy.

The most plausible plea, which hath ever been offered in favor of hereditary succession is, that it preserves a nation from civil wars: and were this true, it would be weighty; whereas, it is the most bare-faced falsity ever imposed upon mankind. The whole history of England disowns the fact. Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that distracted kingdom since the conquest, in which time there have been (including the revolution) no less than eight civil wars and nineteen rebellions. Wherefore instead of making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand upon.

The contest for monarchy and succession, between the houses of York and Lancaster, laid England in a scene of blood for many years. Twelve pitched battles, besides skirmishes and sieges, were fought between Henry and Edward, twice was Henry prisoner to Edward, who in his turn was prisoner to Henry. And so uncertain is the fate of war and the temper of a nation, when nothing but personal matters are the ground of a quarrel, that Henry was taken in triumph from a prison to a palace, and Edward obliged to fly from a palace to a foreign land; yet, as sudden transitions of temper are seldom lasting, Henry in his turn was driven from the throne, and Edward re-called to succeed him. The parliament always following the strongest side.

This contest began in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and was not entirely extinguished till Henry the Seventh, in whom the families , were united. Including a period of 67 years, viz. from 1422 to 1489.

In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only,) but, the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.

If we inquire into the business of a king, we shall find (and in some countries they have none) that after sauntering away their lives without pleasure to themselves or advantage to the nation, they withdraw from the scene, and leave their successors to tread the same useless and idle round. In absolute monarchies the whole weight of business, civil and military, lies on the king; the children of Israel in their request for a king urged this plea, “that he may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles.” But in countries [where] he is neither a judge nor a general, as in England, a man would be puzzled to know what is his business.

The nearer any government approaches to a republic, the less business there is for a king. It is somewhat difficult to find a proper name for the government of England. Sir William Meredith calls it a republic; but in its present state it is unworthy of the name, because the corrupt influence of the crown, by having all the places at its disposal, hath so effectually swallowed up the power, and eaten out the virtue of the house of commons (the republican part in the constitution) that the government of England is nearly as monarchical as that of France or Spain. Men fall out with names without understanding them. For it is the republican and not the monarchical part of the constitution of England which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing a house of commons from out of their own body—and it is easy to see that when republican virtue fails, slavery ensues. Why is the constitution of England sickly, but because monarchy hath poisoned the republic, the crown hath engrossed the commons.

In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which, in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.

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THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF THE AMERICAN AFFAIRS.

IN the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves; that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.

Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America. Men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy, from different motives, and with various designs: but all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, must decide the contest; the appeal was the choice of the king, and the continent hath accepted the challenge.

It has been reported of the late Mr. Pelham (who, though an able minister was not without his faults) that on his being attacked in the house of commons, on the score, that his measures were only of a temporary kind, replied ” they will last my time.” Should a thought so fatal and unmanly possess the colonies in the present contest, the name of ancestors will be remembered by future generations with detestation.

The sun never shone on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. ‘Tis riot the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed-time of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in full grown characters.

By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new area for politics is struck; a new method of thinking hath arisen. All plans, proposals, &c. prior to the nineteenth of April, i. e. to the commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacks of last year; which, though proper then, are superceded and useless now. Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. a union with Great-Britain; the only difference between the parties was the method of effecting it; the one proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far happened that the first has failed, and the second has withdrawn her influence.

As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which, like an agreeable dream, hath passed away and left us as we were, it is but right that we should examine the contrary side of the argument, and inquire into some of the many material injuries which these colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected with and dependant on Great Britain. To examine that connection and dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependant.

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connexion with Great Britain, the same connexion is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had any thing to do with her. The articles of commerce, by which she has enriched herself, are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.

But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is true, and defended the continent at our expense as well as her own, is admitted, and she would have defended Turkey from the same motives, viz. for the sake of trade and dominion.

Alas! we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was interest not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account, from those who had no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account. Let Britain waive her pretensions to the continent, or the continent throw off the dependance, and we should be at peace with France and Spain, were they at war with Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war ought to warn us against connexions.

It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each other but through the parent country, i. e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never were, nor perhaps over will be, our enemies as Americans, but as our being the subjects of Great Britain.

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase parent or mother country hath been jesuitically [practicing casuistry or equivocation; using subtle or oversubtle reasoning; crafty; sly; intriguing] adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

In this extensive quarter of the globe, we forget the narrow limits of three hundred and sixty miles (the extent of England) and carry our friendship on a larger scale; we claim brotherhood with every European Christian, and triumph in the generosity of the sentiment.

It is pleasant to observe by what regular gradations we surmount local prejudices, as we enlarge our acquaintance with the world. A man born in any town in England divided into parishes, will naturally associate most with his fellow parishioners (because their interests in many cases will be common) and distinguish him by the name of neighbor; if he meet him but a few miles from home, he drops the narrow idea of a street, and salutes him by the name of townsman; if he travel out of the county, and meets him in any other, he forgets the minor divisions of street and town, and calls him countryman, i. e. countyman; but if in their foreign excursions they should associate in France or any other part of Europe, their local remembrance would be enlarged into that of Englishmen. And by a just parity of reasoning, all Europeans meeting in America, or any other quarter of the globe, are countrymen; for England, Holland, Germany, or Sweden, when compared with the whole, stand in the same places on the larger scale, which the divisions of street, town, and county do on the smaller one; distinctions too limited for continental minds. Not one third of the inhabitants, even of this province, are of English descent. Wherefore, I reprobate the phrase of parent or mother country applied to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.

But, admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing, Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and title: and to say that reconciliation is our duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the present line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the peers of England are descendants from the same country; wherefore, by the same method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.

Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the colonies, that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world. But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither do the expressions mean any thing; for this continent would never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe.

Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from invaders.

I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show a single advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for, buy them where we will.

But the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connexion, are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to renounce the alliance; because, any submission to or dependance on Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels; and sets us at variance with nations, who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom, we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connexion with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependence on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.

Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connexion with Britain. The next war may not turn out like the last, and should it not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for separation then, because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer convoy than a man of war. Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘tis time to part. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one over the other, was never the design of heaven. The time likewise at which the continent was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled, increases the force of it. The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.

The authority of Great Britain over this continent, is a form of government, which sooner or later must have an end: and a serious mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward, under the painful and positive conviction, that what he calls “the present constitution,” is merely temporary. As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure anything which we may bequeath to posterity and by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly we should take our children in our hand and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, [i.e. compromise] may be included within the following descriptions.

Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European world than it deserves: and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three.

It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us a few moments to Boston; that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct us forever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have now no other alternative than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their friends if they continue within the city, and plundered by the soldiery if they leave it. In their present situation they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for their relief, they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.

Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offences of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, “come, come, we shall be friends again for all this.” But examine the passions and feelings of mankind, bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me, whether you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword unto your land? If you cannot do all these, then are you only deceiving yourselves, and by your delay bringing ruin upon your posterity. Your future connexion with Britain, whom you can neither love nor honor, will be forced and unnatural, and being formed only on the plan of present convenience, will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first. But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on?Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant. [This last sounds as if he were talking about RINO republicans]

This is not inflaming or exaggerating matters, but trying them by those feelings and affections which nature justifies, and without which, we should be incapable of discharging the social duties of life, or enjoying the felicities of it. I mean not to exhibit horror for the purpose of provoking revenge, but to awaken us from fatal and unmanly slumbers, that we may pursue determinately some fixed object. It is not in the power of Britain or of Europe to conquer America, if she does not conquer herself by delay and timidity. The present winter is worth an age if lightly employed, but if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the misfortune; and there is no punishment which that man will not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.

It is repugnant to reason, and the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain, do not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan short of separation, which can promise the continent even a year’s security. Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connexion, and art cannot supply her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, “never can true reconcilement grow, where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”

Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers have been rejected with disdain: and only tended to convince us, that nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in kings more than repeated petitioning—nothing hath contributed more than this very measure to make the kings of Europe absolute: witness Denmark and Sweden. Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do, for God’s sake let us come to a final separation, and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats, under the violated unmeaning names of parent and child.

To say they will never attempt it again, is idle and visionary; we thought so at the repeal of the stamp act, yet a year or two undeceived us: as well may we suppose that nations, which have been once defeated, will never renew the quarrel.

As to government matters, it is not in the power of Britain to do this continent justice: the business of it will soon be too weighty and intricate to be managed with any tolerable degree of convenience, by a power so distant from us, and so very ignorant of us; for if they cannot conquer us, they cannot govern us. To be always running three or four thousand miles with a tale or a petition, waiting four or five months for an answer, which, when obtained, requires five or six more to explain it in, will in a few years be looked upon as folly and childishness—there was a time when it was proper, and there is a proper time for it to cease.

Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet; and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident that they belong to different systems. England to Europe—America to itself.

I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment, to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere patchwork; that it can afford no lasting felicity,— that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when, going a little further, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth.

As Britain hath not manifested the least inclination towards a compromise, we may be assured that no terms can be obtained worthy the acceptance of the continent, or any ways equal to the expense of blood and treasure we have been already put to.

The object contended for, ought always to bear some just proportion to the expense. The removal of North, or the whole detestable junto, is a matter unworthy the millions we have expended. A temporary stoppage of trade, was an inconvenience, which would have sufficiently balanced the repeal of all the acts complained of, had such repeals been obtained; but if the whole continent must take up arms, if every man must be a soldier, it is scarcely worth our while to fight against a contemptible ministry only. Dearly, dearly do we pay for the repeal of the acts, if that is all we fight for; for, in a just estimation, it is as great a folly to pay a Bunker-hill price for law as for land. I have always considered the independency of this continent, as an event which sooner or later must take place, and, from the late rapid progress of the continent to maturity, the event cannot be far off. Wherefore, on the breaking out of hostilities, it was not worth the while to have disputed a matter which time would have finally redressed, unless we meant to be in earnest; otherwise, it is like wasting an estate on a suit at law, to regulate the trespasses of a tenant, whose lease is just expiring. No man was a warmer wisher for a reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April, 1775 [Massacre at Lexington], but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharoah of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of Father of his people, can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.

But admitting that matters were now made up, what would be the event? I answer, the ruin of the continent; And that for several reasons.

1st, The powers of governing still remaining in the hands of the king, he will have a negative over the whole legislation of this continent. And as he hath shown himself such an inveterate enemy to liberty, and discovered such a thirst for arbitrary power: is he, or is he not, a proper person to say to these colonies, “you shall make no laws but what I please.” And is there any inhabitant of America so ignorant as not to know, that according to what is called the present constitution, this continent can make no laws but what the king gives leave to?and is there any man so unwise as not to see, that (considering what has happened) he will suffer no law to be made here, but such as suits his purpose?We may be as effectually enslaved by the want of laws in America, as by submitting to laws made for us in England. After matters are made up (as it is called) can there be any doubt, but the whole power of the crown will be exerted, to keep this continent as low and humble as possible?Instead of going forward we shall go backward, or be perpetually quarrelling, or ridiculously petitioning.—We are already greater than the king wishes us to be, and will he not hereafter endeavor to make us less? To bring the matter to one point, Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says No, to this question, is an independent, for independency means no more than this, whether we shall make our own laws, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy which this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us “there shall be no laws but such as I like.”

But the king, you will say, has a negative in England; the people there can make no laws without his consent. In point of right and good order, it is something very ridiculous, that a youth of twenty-one (which hath often happened) shall say to several millions of people, older and wiser than himself, I forbid this or that act of yours to be law. But in this place I decline this sort of reply, though I will never cease to expose the absurdity of it; and only answer, that England being the king’s residence, and America not, makes quite another case. The king’s negative here is ten times more dangerous and fatal than it can be in England; for there he will scarcely refuse his consent to a bill for putting England into as strong a state of defence as possible, and in America he would never suffer such a bill to be passed.

America is only a secondary object in the system of British politics—England consults the good of this country no further than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore, her own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her advantage, or in the least interferes with it. A pretty state we should soon be in under such a second-hand government, considering what has happened! Men do not change from enemies to friends, by the alteration of a name: and in order to show that reconciliation now is a dangerous doctrine, I affirm, that it would be policy in the king at this time, to repeal the acts, for the sake of reinstating himself in the government of the provinces; in order that he may accomplish by craft and subtlety, in the long run, what he cannot do by force in the short one. Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.

2dly, That as even the best terms, which we can expect to obtain, can amount to no more than a temporary expedient, or a kind of government by guardianship, which can last no longer than till the colonies come of age, so the general face and state of things, in the interim, will be unsettled and unpromising. Emigrants of property will not choose to come to a country whose form of government hangs but by a thread, and which is every day tottering on the brink of commotion and disturbance; and numbers of the present inhabitants would lay hold of the interval, to dispose of their effects, and quit the continent.

But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence, i. e. a continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. I dread the event of a reconciliation with Britain now, as it is more than probable that it will be followed by a revolt somewhere or other, the consequences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice of Britain.

Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity. (Thousands more will probably suffer the same fate.) Those men have other feelings than us who have nothing suffered. All they now possess is liberty, what they before enjoyed is sacrificed to its service, and having nothing more to lose, they disdain submission. Besides, the general temper of the colonies, towards a British government, will be like that of a youth, who is nearly out of his time; they will care very little about her. And a government which cannot preserve the peace, is no government at all, and in that case we pay our money for nothing; and pray what is it that Britain can do, whose power will be wholly on paper, should a civil tumult break out the very day after reconciliation?I have heard some men say, many of whom I believe spoke without thinking, that they dreaded an independence, fearing that it would produce civil wars. It is but seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct, and that is the case here; for there is ten times more to dread from a patched up connexion than from independence. I make the sufferer’s case my own, and I protest, that were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed, and my circumstances ruined, that as a man, sensible of injuries, I could never relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself bound thereby.

The colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order and obedience to continental government, as is sufficient to make every reasonable person easy and happy on that head. No man can assign the least pretence for his fears, on any other grounds, than such as are truly childish and ridiculous, viz. that one colony will be striving for superiority over another.

Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority; perfect equality affords no temptation. The republics of Europe arc all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Switzerland are without wars, foreign or domestic: monarchical governments, it is true, are never long at rest: the crown itself is a temptation to enterprising ruffians at home; and that degree of pride and insolence ever attendant on regal authority, swells into a rupture with foreign powers, in instances where a republican government, by being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.

If there is any true cause of fear respecting independence, it is because no plan is yet laid down. Men do not see their way out, wherefore, as an opening into that business, I offer the following hints; at the same time modestly affirming, that I have no other opinion of them myself, than that they may be the means of giving rise to something better. Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise and able men to improve into useful matter.

Let the assemblies be annual, with a president only. The representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic, and subject to the authority of a continental congress.

Let each colony be divided into six, eight, or ten, convenient districts, each district to send a proper number of delegates to congress, so that each colony send at least thirty. The whole number in congress will be at least three hundred and ninety.

Each congress to sit and to choose a president by the following method. When the delegates are met, let a colony be taken from the whole thirteen colonies by lot, after which, let the congress choose (by ballot) a president from out of the delegates of that province. In the next congress, let a colony be taken by lot from twelve only, omitting that colony from which the president was taken in the former congress, and so proceeding on till the whole thirteen shall have had their proper rotation. And in order that nothing may pass into a law but what is satisfactorily just, not less than three-fifths of the congress to be called a majority. He that will promote discord, under a government so equally formed as this, would have joined Lucifer in his revolt.

But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, or in what manner, this business must first arise, and as it seems most agreeable and consistent, that it should come from some intermediate body between the governed and the governors, that is, between the congress and the people, let a Continental Conference be held, in the following manner, and for the following purpose,

A committee of twenty-six members of congress, viz. two for each colony. Two members from each house of assembly, or provincial convention; and five representatives of the people at large, to be chosen in the capital city or town of each province, for, and in behalf of the whole province, by as many qualified voters as shall think proper to attend from all parts of the province for that purpose; or, if more convenient, the representatives may be chosen in two or three of the most populous parts thereof. In this conference, thus assembled, will be united, the two grand principles of business, knowledge and power. The members of congress, assemblies, or conventions, by having had experience in national concerns, will be able and useful counsellors, and the whole, being empowered by the people, will have a truly legal authority.

The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame a Continental Charter, or Charter of the United Colonies; (answering to what is called the Magna Charta of England) fixing the number and manner of choosing members of congress, and members of assembly, with their date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and jurisdiction between them: (always remembering, that our strength is continental, not provincial) securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as it is necessary for a charter to contain. Immediately after which, the said conference to dissolve, and the bodies which shall be chosen conformable to the said charter, to be the legislators and governors of this continent for the time being: whose peace and happiness, may God preserve, Amen.

Should any body of men be hereafter delegated for this or some similar purpose, I offer them the following extracts from that wise observer on governments, Dragonetti. “The science,” says he, “of the politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should discover a mode of government that contained the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least national expense.”

But where, say some, is the king of America?I’ll tell you, friend, he [Jesus] reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown lit the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.

A government of our own is our natural right: and when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance. If we omit it now, some Massanello* may hereafter arise, who, laying hold of popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate and the discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers of government, finally sweep away the liberties of the continent like a deluge. Should the government of America return again into the hands of Britain, the tottering situation of things will be a temptation for some desperate adventurer to try his fortune; and in such a case, what relief can Britain give? Ere she could hear the news, the fatal business might be done; and ourselves suffering like the wretched Britons under the oppression of the Conqueror. Ye that oppose independence now, ye know not what ye do; ye are opening a door to eternal tyranny, by keeping vacant the seat of government. There are thousands and tens of thousands, who would think it glorious to expel from the continent, that barbarous and hellish power, which hath stirred up the Indians and negroes to destroy us—the cruelty hath a double guilt, it is dealing brutally by us, and treacherously by them.

[* Thomas Aneilo, otherwise Massanello, a fisherman of Naples, who after spiriting up his countrymen in the public market place, against the oppression of the Spaniards, to whom the place was then subject, prompted them to revolt, and in the space of a day became king.]

To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us to have faith, and our affections, wounded through a thousand pores, instruct us to detest, is madness and folly. Every day wears out the little remains of kindred between us and them; and can there be any reason to hope, that as the relationship expires, the affection will increase, or that we shall agree better when we have ten times more and greater concerns to quarrel over than ever?

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last cord now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the continent forgives the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable feelings, for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of his image in our hearts, and distinguish us from the herd of common animals. The social compact would dissolve, and justice be extirpated from the earth, or have only a casual existence were we callous to the touches of affection. The robber, and the murderer, would often escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain, provoke us into justice.

O! ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been haunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.

OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA: WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLECTIONS.

I Have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation between the countries would take place one time or other: and there is no instance, in which we have shown less judgment, than in endeavoring to describe, what we call, the ripeness or fitness of the continent for independence.

As all men allow the measure, and vary only in their opinion of the time, let us, in order to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things, and endeavor, if possible, to find out the very time. But we need not go far, the inquiry ceases at once, for, the time hath found us. The general concurrence, the glorious union of all things proves the fact.

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The continent hath, at this time, the largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power under heaven; and is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which, no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, can accomplish the matter, and either more, or less than this, might be fatal in its effects. Our land force is already sufficient, and as to naval affairs, we cannot be insensible that Britain would never suffer an American man of war to be built, while the continent remained in her hands. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years hence in that branch, than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the timber of the country is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at last, will be far off or difficult to procure.

Were the continent crowded with inhabitants, her sufferings under the present circumstances would be intolerable. The more seaport-towns we had, the more should we have both to defend and to lose. Our present numbers are so happily proportioned to our wants, that no man need be idle. The diminution of trade affords an army, and the necessities of an army create a new trade. Debts we have none: and whatever we may contract on this account will serve as a glorious memento of our virtue. Can we but leave posterity; with settled form of government, an independent constitution of its own, the purchase at any price will be cheap. But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from which they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy a man of honor, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart and a peddling politician.

The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard, if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and,when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance. Britain is oppressed with a debt of upwards of one hundred and forty millions sterling, for which she pays upwards of four millions interest. And as a compensation for her debt, she has a large navy; America is without a debt, and without a navy; yet for the twentieth part of the English national debt, could have a navy as large again. The navy of England is not worth, at this time, more than three millions and a half sterling.

The following calculations are given as a proof that the above estimation of the navy is a just one. [See Entick’s Naval History, Intro, p. 56.]

The charge of building a ship of each rate, and furnishing her with masts, yards, sails, and rigging, together with a proportion of eight months boatswain’s and carpenter’s sea-stores, as calculated by Mr. Burchett, secretary to the navy.

For a ship of 100 guns, – – 35,6531.
90,- – 29,886
80,- – 23,638
70,- – 17,785
60,- – 14,197
50,- – 10,606
40 – – – 7,558
30,- – 5,846
20,- – 3,710

And hence it is easy to sum up the value, or cost, rather, of the whole British navy, which, in the year 1757, when it was at its greatest glory, consisted of the following ships and guns.

BritishShip1757

No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce it being the natural manufacture of this country. It is the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost: and is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.

In point of manning a fleet, people in general run into great errors; it is not necessary that one-fourth part should be sailors. The privateer Terrible, captain Death, stood the hottest engagement of any ship last war, yet had not twenty sailors on board, though her complement of men was upwards of two hundred. A few able and social sailors will soon instruct a sufficient number of active landsmen in the common work of a ship. Wherefore, we never can be more capable of beginning on maritime matters than now, while our timber is standing, our fisheries blocked up, and our sailors and shipwrights out of employ. Men of war, of seventy and eighty guns, were built forty years ago in New England, and why not the same now? Ship building is America’s greatest pride, and in which she will, in time, excel the whole world. The great empires of the east are mostly inland, and consequently excluded from the possibility of rivalling her. Africa is in a state of barbarism; and no power in Europe, hath either such an extent of coast, or such an internal supply of materials. Where nature hath given the one, she hath withhelt the other; to America only hath she been liberal of both. The vast empire of Russia is almost shut out from the sea; wherefore, her boundless forests, her tar, iron, and cordage are only articles of commerce.

In point of safety, ought we to be without a fleet? We are not the little people now, which we were sixty years ago; at that time we might have trusted our property in the streets, or fields rather; and slept securely without locks or bolts to our doors or windows. The case is now altered, and our methods of defence ought to improve with, our increase of property. A common pirate, twelve months ago, might have come up the Delaware, and laid this city under contribution for what sum he pleased; and the same might have happened to other places. Nay, any daring fellow, in a brig of fourteen or sixteen guns, might have robbed the whole continent, and carried off half a million of money. These are circumstances which demand our attention, and point out the necessity of naval protection.

Some perhaps, will say, that after we have made it up with Britain, she will protect us. Can they be so unwise as to mean, that she will keep a navy in our harbors for that purpose?Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us. Conquest may be effected under the pretence of friendship; and Ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated into slavery. And if her ships are not to be admitted into our harbors, I would ask, how is she to protect us? A navy three or four thousand miles off can be of little use, and on sudden emergencies, none at all. Wherefore, if we must hereafter protect ourselves, why not do it for ourselves? Why do it for another?

The English list of ships of war, is long and formidable, hut not a tenth part of them are at any one time fit for service, numbers of them are not in being; yet their names are pompously continued in the list, if only a plank be left of the ship; and not a fifth part of such as are fit for service, can be spared on any one station at one time. The East and West Indies, Mediterranean, Africa, and other parts of the world, over which Britain extends her claim, make large demands upon her navy. From a mixture of prejudice and inattention, we have contracted a false notion respecting the navy of England, and have talked as if we should have the whole of it to encounter at once, and, for that reason, supposed that we must have one as large; which not being instantly practicable, has been made use of by a set of disguised Tories to discourage our beginning thereon. Nothing can be further from truth than this; for if America had only a twentieth part of the naval force of Britain, she would be by far an over match for her; because, as we neither have, nor claim any foreign dominion, our whole force would be employed on our own coast, where we should, in the long run, have two to one the advantage of those who had three or four thousand miles to sail over, before they could attack us, and the same distance to return in order to refit and recruit. And although Britain, by her fleet, hath a check over our trade to Europe, we have as large a one over her trade to the West Indies, which, by laying in the neighborhood of the continent, is entirely at its mercy.

Some method might be fallen on to keep up a naval force in time of peace, if we should not judge it necessary to support a constant navy. If premiums were to be given to merchants, to build and employ in their service, ships mounted with twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty guns, (the premiums to be in proportion to the loss of bulk to the merchants,) fifty or sixty of those ships with a few guardships on constant duty, would keep up a sufficient navy, and that without burdening ourselves with the evil so loudly complained of in England, of suffering their fleet in time of peace, to lie rotting in the docks. To unite the sinews of commerce and defence is sound policy; for when our strength and our riches play into each other’s hand, we need fear no external enemy.

In almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage. Our iron is superior to that of other countries. Our small arms equal to any in the world. Cannon we can cast at pleasure. Saltpetre and gunpowder we are every day producing. Our knowledge is hourly improving. Resolution is our inherent character, and courage hath never yet forsaken us. Wherefore, what is it that we want? Why is it that we hesitate? From Britain we can expect nothing but ruin. If she is once admitted to the government of America again, this continent will not be worth living in. Jealousies will be always arising, insurrections will be constantly happening; and who will go forth to quell them?Who will venture his life to reduce his own countrymen to a foreign obedience? The difference between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, respecting some unlocated lands, shows the insignificance of a British government, and fully proves that nothing but continental authority can regulate continental matters.

Another reason why the present time is preferable to all others, is, that the fewer our numbers are, the more land there is yet unoccupied, which, instead of being lavished by the king on his worthless dependants, may be hereafter applied, not only to the discharge of the present debt, but to the constant support of government. No nation under heaven hath such an advantage as this.

The infant state of the colonies, as it is called, so far from being against, is an argument in favor of independence. We are sufficiently numerous, and were we more so we might be less united. It is a matter worthy of observation, that the more a country is peopled, the smaller their armies are. In military numbers, the ancients far exceeded the moderns : and the reason is evident, for trade being the consequence of population, men became too much absorbed thereby to attend to anything else. Commerce diminishes the spirit both of patriotism and military defence. And history sufficiently informs us, that the bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation. With the increase of commerce England hath lost its spirit. The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.

Youth is the seed-time of good habits, as well in nations as in individuals. It might be difficult, if not impossible, to form the continent into one government half a century hence. The vast variety of interests, occasioned by an increase of trade and population, would create confusion, Colony would be against colony. Each being able, might scorn each other’s assistance: and while the proud and foolish gloried in their little distinctions, the wise would lament that the union had not been formed before. Wherefore the present time is the true time for establishing it. The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which is formed in misfortune, are, of all others, the most lasting and unalterable, Our present union is marked with both these characters we are young, and we have been distressed; but our concord hath withstood our troubles, and fixes a memorable era for posterity to glory in.

The present time, likewise, is that peculiar time which never happens to a nation but once, viz. the time of forming itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the opportunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive laws from their conquerors, instead of making laws for themselves. First, they had a king, and then a form of government; whereas the articles or charter of government, should be formed first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards: but from the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity—to begin government at the right end.

When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave them law at the point of the sword; and, until we consent that the seat of government in America be legally and authoritatively occupied, we shall be in danger of having it filled by some fortunate ruffian. Who may treat us in the same manner, and then, where will be our freedom? where our property?

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all governments, to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith. Let a man throw aside that narrowness of soul, that selfishness of principle, which the niggards of all professions are so unwilling to part with, and he will be at once delivered of his fears on that head. Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society. For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty, that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us: it affords a larger field for our Christian kindness. Were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle, I look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names.

In a former page, I threw out a few thoughts on the propriety of a Continental Charter (for I only presume to offer hints, not plans) and in this place, I take the liberty of re-mentioning the subject, by observing, that a charter is to be understood as a bond of solemn obligation, which the whole enters into, to support the right of every separate part, whether of religion, personal- freedom, or property. A firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friends.

I have heretofore likewise mentioned the necessity of a large and equal representation; and there is no political matter which more deserves our attention. A small number of electors, or a small number of representatives, are equally dangerous. But if the number of the representatives be not only small, but unequal, the danger is increased. As an instance of this, I mention the following; when the associators petition was before the house of assembly of Pennsylvania, twenty-eight members only were present; all the Bucks county members, being eight, voted against it, and had seven of the Chester members done the same, this whole province had been governed by two counties only; and this danger it is always exposed to. The unwarrantable stretch likewise, which that house made in their last sitting, to gain an undue authority over the delegates of this province, ought to warn the people at large, how they trust power out of their own hands. A set of instructions for their delegates were put together, which in point of sense and business would have dishonoured a school-boy, and after being approved by a few, a very few, without doors, were carried into the house, and there passed in behalf of the whole colony; whereas, did the whole colony know with what ill will that house had entered on some necessary public measures, they would not hesitate a moment to think them unworthy of such a trust.

Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things. When the calamities of America required a consultation, there was no method so ready, or at that time so proper, as to appoint persons from the several houses of assembly for that purpose; and the wisdom with which they have proceeded hath preserved this continent from ruin. But as it is more than probable that we shall never be without a Congress, every well-wisher to good order must own, that the mode for choosing members of that body, deserves consideration. And I put it as a question to those, who make a study of mankind, whether representation and election is not too great a power for one and the same body of men to possess? Whenever we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes. Mr. Cornwall (one of the lords of the treasury) treated the petition of the New-York assembly with contempt, because that house, he said, consisted but of twenty-six members, which trifling number, he argued, could not with decency be put for the whole. We thank him for his involuntary honesty.* [*Those who would fully understand of what great consequence a large and equal representation is to a state, should read Burgh’s Political Disquisitions.]

To conclude. However strange it may appear to some, or however unwilling they may be to think so, matters not, but many strong and striking reasons may be given, to show, that nothing can-settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for independence. Some of which are,

1st, It is the custom of nations, when any two are at war, for some other powers, not engaged in the quarrel, to step in as mediators, and bring about the preliminaries of a peace; but while America calls herself the subject of Britain, no power, however well disposed she may be, can offer her mediation. Wherefore, in our present state, we may quarrel on for ever.

2d, It is unreasonable to suppose, that France or Spain will give us any kind of assistance, if we mean only to make use of that assistance for the purpose of repairing the breach, and strengthening the connexion between Britain and America; because, those powers would be sufferers by the consequences.

3d, While we profess ourselves the subjects of Britain, we must, in the eyes of foreign nations, be considered as rebels. The precedent is somewhat dangerous to their peace, for men to be in arms under the name of subjects; we, on the spot, can solve the paradox: but to unite resistance and subjection, requires an idea much too refined for common understanding.

4th, Should a manifesto be published, and dispatched to foreign courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceful methods which we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring at the same time, that not being able, any longer, to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the British court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connexion with her; at the same time, assuring all such courts of our peaceable disposition towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them. Such a memorial would produce more good effects to this continent, than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.

Under our present denomination of British subjects, we can neither be received nor heard abroad: the custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until, by an independence, we take rank with other nations.

These proceedings may at first appear strange and difficult; but like all other steps, which we have already passed over, will in a little time become familiar and agreeable; and, until an independence is declared, the continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.

Since the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet, or rather, on the same day on which it came out, the king’s speech made its appearance in this city. Had the spirit of prophecy directed the birth of this production, it could not have brought it forth at a more seasonable juncture, or at a more necessary time. The bloody-mindedness of the one, shows the necessity of pursuing the doctrine of the other. Men read by way of revenge:—and the speech, instead of terrifying, prepared a way for the manly principles of independence.

Ceremony, and even silence, from whatever motives they may arise, have a hurtful tendency, when they give the least degree of countenance to base and wicked performances; wherefore, if this maxim be admitted, it naturally follows, that the king’s speech, as being a piece of finished villany, deserved and still deserves, a general execration, both by the congress and the people. Yet, as the domestic tranquillity of a nation, depends greatly on the chastity of what may properly be called national manners, it is often better to pass some things over in silent disdain, than to make use of such new methods of dislike, as might introduce the least innovation on that guardian of our peace and safety. And, perhaps, it is chiefly owing to this prudent delicacy, that the king’s speech hath not before now suffered a public execution. The speech, if »Vmay be called one, is nothing better than a willful audacious libel against the truth, the common good, and the existence of mankind; and is a formal and pompous method of offering up human sacrifices to the pride of tyrants. But this general massacre of mankind, is one of the privileges and the certain consequences of kings; for as nature knows them not, they know not her, and although they are beings of our men creating, they know not us, and are become the gods of their creators. The speech hath one good quality, which is, that it is not calculated to deceive, neither can ‘we, if we would, be deceived by it. Brutality and tyranny appear on the face of it. It leaves us at no loss; and every line convinces, even in the moment of reading, that he who hunts the woods for prey, the naked and untutored Indian, is less savage than the king of Britain.

Sir John Dalrymple, the putative father of a whining jesuitical piece, fallaciously called, “The address of the people of England to the inhabitants of America,” hath perhaps, from a vain supposition that the people here were to be frightened at the pomp and description of a king, given (though very unwisely on his part) the real character of the present one: “But,” says this writer, “if you are inclined to pay compliments to an administration, which we do not complain of” (meaning the Marquis of Rockingham’s at the repeal of the Stamp Act) “it is very unfair in you to withhold them from that prince, by whose Nod Alone they were permitted to do any thing.” This is toryism with a witness! Here is idolatry even without a mask: and he who can calmly hear and digest such doctrine, hath forfeited his claim to rationality; is an apostate from the order of manhood, and ought to be considered—as one, who hath not only given up the proper dignity of man, but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals, and contemptibly crawls through the world like a worm.

However, it matters very little now, what the king of England either says or does; he hath wickedly broken through every moral and human obligation, trampled nature and conscience beneath his feet; and by a steady and constitutional spirit of insolence and cruelty, procured for himself an universal hatred. It is now the interest of America to provide for herself. She hath already a large and young family, whom it is more her duty to take care of, than to be granting away her property to support a power which become a reproach to the names of men and Christians—Ye, whose office it is to watch over the morals of a nation, of whatsoever sect or denomination ye are of, as well as ye who are more immediately the guardians of the public liberty, if you wish to preserve your native country uncontaminated by European corruption, ye must in secret wish a separation—but leaving the moral part to private reflection, I shall chiefly confine my further remarks to the following heads:

1st, That it is the interest of America to be separated from Britain.

2d, Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, reconciliation or independence? with some occasional remarks.

In support of the first, I could, if I judged it proper, produce the opinion of some of the ablest and most experienced men on this continent: and whose sentiments on that head, are not yet publicly known. It is in reality a self-evident position: for no nation in a state of foreign dependance, limited in its commerce, and cramped and fettered in its legislative powers, can ever arrive at any material eminence. America doth not yet know what opulence is; and although the progress which she hath made stands unparalleled in the history of other nations, it is but childhood, compared with what she would be capable of arriving at, had she, as she ought to have, the legislative powers in her own hands. England i&, at this time, proudly coveting what would do her no good were she to accomplish it; and the continent hesitating on a matter which will be her final ruin if neglected. It is the commerce and not the conquest of America by which England is to be benefited, and that would in a great measure continue, were the countries as independent of each other as France and Spain; because in many articles neither can go to a better market. But it is the independence of this country of Britain, or any other, which is now the main and only object worthy of contention, and which, like all other truths discovered by necessity, will appear clearer and stronger every day.

1st, Because it will come to that one time or other.

2d, Because the longer it is delayed, the harder it will be to accomplish.

I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently remarking the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting. And among the many which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz. that if this rupture should happen forty or fifty years hence, instead of now, the continent would be more able to shake off the dependance. To which I reply, that our military ability, at this time, arises from the experience gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years time, would be totally extinct. The continent would not, by that time, have a general, or even a military officer left; and we, or those who may succeed us, would be as ignorant of martial matters as the ancient Indians: and this single position, closely attended to, will unanswerably prove that the present time is preferable to all others. The argument turns thus—at the conclusion of the last war, we had experience, but wanted numbers; and forty or fifty years hence, we shall have numbers, without experience; wherefore, the proper point of time, must be some particular point between the two extremes, in which a sufficiency of the former remains, and a proper increase of the latter is obtained: and that point of time is the present time.

The reader will pardon this digression, as it does not properly come under the head I first set out with, and to which I again return by the following position, viz.

Should affairs be patched up with Britain, and she remain the governing and sovereign power of America, (which, as matters are now circumstanced, is giving up the point entirely) we shall deprive ourselves of the very means of sinking the debt we have, or may contract. The value of the back lands, which some of the provinces are clandestinely deprived of, by the unjust extension of the limits of Canada, valued only at five pounds sterling per hundred acres, amount to upwards of twenty-five millions Pennsylvania currency; and the quit-rents at one penny sterling per acre, to two millions yearly.

It is by the sale of those lands that the debt may be sunk, without burden to any, and the quit-rent reserved thereon, will always lessen, and in time, will wholly support the yearly expense of government. It matters not how long the debt is in paying, so that the lands when sold be applied to the discharge of it, and for the execution of which, the congress for the time being, will be the continental trustees.

I proceed now to the second head, viz. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, reconciliation or independence? with some occasional remarks. He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument, and on that ground, I answer generally—That Independence being a Single Simple Line, contained within ourselves; and reconciliation, a matter exceedingly perplexed and complicated, and in which a treacherous, capricious court is to interfere, gives the answer without a doubt.

The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is capable of reflection. Without law, without government, without any other mode of power than what is founded on, and granted by courtesy. Held together by an unexampled occurrence of sentiment, which is nevertheless subject to change, and which every secret enemy is endeavoring to dissolve. Our present condition is, legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect independence contending for dependence. The instance is without a precedent; the case never existed before; and, who can tell what may be the event? The property of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things) The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion presents. Nothing is criminal; there is no such thing as treason; wherefore, every one thinks himself at liberty to act as he pleases. The Tories dared not have assembled offensively, had they known that their lives, by that act, were forfeited to the laws of the state. A line of distinction should be drawn between English soldiers taken in battle, and inhabitants of America taken in arms. The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors. The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.

Notwithstanding our wisdom, there is a visible feebleness in some of our proceedings which gives encouragement to dissentions. The Continental Belt is too loosely buckled. And if something is not done in time, it will be too late to do any thing, and we shall fall into a state, in which neither Reconciliation nor Independence will be practicable. The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the continent, and there are not wanting among us, printers, who will be busy in spreading specious falsehoods. The artful and hypocritical letter which appeared a few months ago in two of the New-York papers, and likewise in others, is an evidence that there are men who want both judgment and honesty.

It is easy getting into holes and corners and talking of reconciliation: but do such men seriously consider how difficult the task is, and how dangerous it may prove, should the continent divide thereon. Do they take within their view, all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein. Do they put themselves in the place of the sufferer whose all is already gone, and of the soldier, who hath quitted all for the defence of his country? If their ill-judged moderation be suited to their own private situations only, regardless of others, the event will convince them that “they are reckoning without their host.”

Put us, say some, on the footing we were in the year 1763: to which I answer, the request is not now in the power of Britain to comply with, neither will she propose it; but if it were, and even should it be granted, I ask, as a reasonable question, by what means is such a corrupt and faithless court to be kept to its engagements? Another parliament, nay, even the present, may hereafter repeal the obligation, on the pretence of its being violently obtained, or unwisely granted; and, in that case, where is our redress? No going to law with nations; cannon are the barristers of crowns; and the sword, not of justice, but of war, decides the suit. To be on the footing of 1763, it is not sufficient, that the laws only be put in the same state, but, that our circumstances, likewise, be put in the same state; our burnt and destroyed towns repaired, or built up, our private losses made good, our public debts (contracted for defence) discharged; otherwise, we shall be millions worse than we were at that enviable period. Such a request, had it been complied with a year ago, would have won the heart and soul of the continent—but now it is too late: “The Rubicon is passed.”

Besides, the taking up arms, merely to enforce the repeal of a pecuniary law, seems as unwarrantable by the divine law, and as repugnant to human feelings, as the taking up arms to enforce obedience thereto. The object, on either side, doth not justify the means; for the lives of men are too valuable to be cast away on such trifles. It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: and the instant in which such mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independence of America should have been considered as dating its era from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice, nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events, of which the colonies were not the authors.

I shall conclude these remarks, with the following timely and well-intended hints. We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways by which an independency may hereafter be effected; and that one of those three, will, one day or other, be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people in congress; by a military power; or by a mob: it may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independency be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful—and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry caviling [To find fault unnecessarily; raise trivial objections], of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world. Should we neglect the present favorable and inviting period, and independence be hereafter effected by any other means, we must charge the consequence to ourselves, or to those rather, whose narrow and prejudiced souls, are habitually opposing the measure, without either inquiring or reflecting. There are reasons to be given in support of independence, which men should rather privately think of, than be publicly told of. We ought not now to be debating whether we shall be independent or not, but anxious to accomplish it on a firm, secure, and honorable basis, and uneasy rather, that it is not yet began upon. Every day convinces us of its necessity. Even the Tories (if such beings yet remain among us) should, of all men, be the most solicitous to promote it; for as the appointment of committees at first, protected them from popular rage, so, a wise and well established form of government, will be the only certain means of continuing it securely to them. Wherefore, if they have not virtue enough to be Whigs, they ought to have prudence enough to wish for independence.

In short, independence is the only bond that tie and keep us together. We shall then see our object, and our ears will be legally shut against the schemes of an intriguing, as well as cruel, enemy. We shall then, too, be on a proper footing to treat with Britain; for there is reason to conclude, that the pride of that court will be less hurt by treating with the American states for terms of peace, than with those, whom she denominates “rebellious subjects,” for terms of accommodation. It is our delaying it that encourages her to hope for conquest, and our backwardness tends only to prolong the war. As we have, without any good effect therefrom, withheld our trade to obtain a redress of our grievances, let us now try the alternative, by independently redressing them ourselves, and then offering to open the trade. The mercantile and reasonable part of England, will be still with f us; because, peace, with trade, is preferable to war, without it. And if this offer be not accepted, other courts may be applied to.

On these grounds I rest the matter. And as no offer hath yet been made to refute the doctrine contained in the former editions of this pamphlet, it is a negative proof, that either the doctrine cannot be refuted, or, that the party in favor of it are too numerous to be opposed. Wherefore, instead of gazing at each other, with suspicious or doubtful curiosity, let each of us hold out to his neighbor the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion, shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissention. Let the names of whig and tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen; an open and resolute friend; and a virtuous supporter of the Rights of Mankind, and of the Free And InDependent STATES OF AMERICA

END OF COMMON SENSE.
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Appeal to the People Concerning the Heavy Hand of Government

TheEducatorPrinceTyrant
 

The heavy hand of government has become completely unacceptable in the US, Barack Obama likes to lecture US about American Values. He and his Whitehouse’s administration of the Federal Government are the antithesis and in Direct Opposition to everything in our Constitution and the True American Values that Obama claims to be an authority on!

If he, big if, was not directly involved in and directing all of the targeting and other abuse / malfeasance by this government, then as I have said, the officials and workers in the bureaucracy of the federal government, have been waiting for just the right President to be elected, who doesn’t mind a little tyranny!

 
See also: THE LIBERTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL by John Stuart Mill
What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country
Natural Rights Of The Colonists As Men by Founder Samuel Adams Nov 20, 1772
Founder Samuel Adams: The Duty of Citizens in Electing Their Representatives
 

ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF GREAT BRITAIN. Congress, on the eleventh day of October, 1774, appointed Mr. Richard Henry Lee, Mr. William Livingston and Mr. John Jay a committee to prepare a memorial to the people of British America, and an address to the people of Great Britain. It was agreed in the committee that Mr. Lee should prepare the former, and that Mr. Jay should prepare the latter. On the eighteenth, Mr. Jay reported a draught of the address, which was discussed and amended on the day following, and on the twenty-first was approved by Congress.

Friends And Fellow-Subjects [Called Subjects because they were under a Monarchy]: When a nation led to greatness by the hand of liberty [the Magna Carta Libertatum, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus,the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement; these are the fundamental laws of England, and form the skeleton of the British Constitution] and possessed of all the glory that heroism, munificence [great generosity], and humanity can bestow, descends to the ungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children, and instead of giving support to freedom, turns advocate for slavery and oppression, there is reason to suspect she has either ceased to be virtuous or been extremely negligent in the appointment of her rulers.

In almost every age, in repeated conflicts in long and bloody wars, as well civil as foreign, against many and powerful nations, against the open assaults of enemies, and the more dangerous treachery of friends, have the inhabitants of your island, your great and glorious ancestors, maintained their independence and transmitted the rights of men and the blessings of liberty to you, their posterity [descendants, i.e. children, grand-children].

Be not surprised, therefore, that we who are descended from the same common ancestors, that we whose forefathers participated in all the rights, the liberties, and the constitution you so justly boast of, and who have carefully conveyed the same fair inheritance to us, guaranteed by the plighted faith of government, and the most solemn compacts with British sovereigns, should refuse to surrender them to men who found their claims on no principles of reason, and who prosecute them with a design that, by having our lives and property in their power, they may, with the greatest facility, enslave you.

The cause of America is now the object of universal attention; it has at length become very serious. This unhappy country has not only been oppressed, but abused and misrepresented; and the duty we owe to ourselves and posterity, to your interest, and the general welfare of the British empire, leads us to address you on this very important subject.

Know, then, That we consider ourselves, and do insist, that we are, and ought to be as free as our fellow-subjects in Britain, and that no power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.

That we claim all the benefits secured to the subject by the English constitution, and particularly that inestimable one of trial by jury. [habeas corpus]

That we hold it essential to English liberty that no man be condemned unheard, or punished for supposed offences, without having an opportunity of making his defense.

That we think the legislature of Great Britain is not authorized by the constitution to establish a religion fraught with sanguinary and impious tenets [filled with bloodshed and immoral beliefs]; or to erect an arbitrary form of government [subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one’s own discretion] in any quarter of the globe. These rights we, as well as you, deem sacred; and yet, sacred as they are, they have, with many others, been repeatedly and flagrantly violated. [Flagrant; so obviously inconsistent with what is right or proper as to appear to be a flouting of law or morality]

Are not the proprietors of the soil of Great Britain lords of their own property? Can it be taken from them without their consent? [i.e. Imminent Domain]  Will they yield it to the arbitrary disposal of any man or number of men whatever? You know they will not.

Why, then, are the proprietors of the soil of America less lords of their property than you are of yours? or why should they submit it to the disposal of your Parliament, or any other parliament or council in the world, not of their election? Can the intervention of the sea that divides us cause disparity [inequality] in rights, or can any reason be given why English subjects who live three thousand miles from the Royal Palace, should enjoy less liberty than those who are three hundred miles distant from it?

Reason looks with indignation on such distinctions, and freemen can never perceive their propriety [the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals]. And yet, however chimerical [fantastic] and unjust such discriminations are, the Parliament assert that they have a right to bind us, in all cases, without exception, whether we consent or not; that they may take and use our property when and in what manner they please; that we are pensioners [dependents] on their bounty for all that we possess, and can hold it no longer than they vouchsafe [promise] to permit. Such declarations we consider as heresies [a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief] in English politics, and which can no more operate to deprive us of our property than the interdicts of the Pope can divest kings of scepters which the laws of the land and the voice of the people have placed in their hands.

At the conclusion of the late war—a war rendered glorious by the abilities and integrity of a minister to whose efforts the British empire owes its safety and its fame; at the conclusion of this war, which was succeeded by an inglorious peace, formed under the auspices [support, sponsorship] of a minister of principles, and of a family, unfriendly to the Protestant cause, and inimical [harmful] to liberty—we say at this period, and under the influence of that man, a plan for enslaving your fellow-subjects in America was concerted, and has ever since been pertinaciously [perversely persistent; stubborn or obstinate] carrying into execution.

Prior to this era yon were content with drawing from us the wealth produced by our commerce: you restrained your trade in every way that could conduce [lead] to your emolument [profit]. You exercised unbounded sovereignty over the sea. You named the ports and nations to which alone our merchandise should be carried, and with whom alone we should trade; and though some of these restrictions were grievous, we nevertheless did not complain. We looked up to you as to our parent state, to which we were bound by the strongest ties, and were happy in being instrumental to your prosperity and your grandeur.

We call upon you, yourselves, to witness our loyalty and attachment to the common interest of the whole empire. Did we not, in the last war [French and Indian War], add all the strength of this vast continent to the force which repelled our common enemy? Did we not leave our native shores and meet disease and death to promote the success of British arms in foreign climates? Did you not thank us for our zeal, and even reimburse us large sums of money, which you confessed we had advanced beyond our proportion, and far beyond our abilities? You did.

To what causes, then, are we to attribute the sudden change of treatment, and that system of slavery, which was prepared for us at the restoration of peace?

Before we had recovered from the distresses which ever attend war, an attempt was made to drain this country of all its money, by the oppressive stamp act. Paint, glass, and other commodities, which you would not permit us to purchase of other nations, were taxed; nay, although no wine is made in any country, subject to the British state, you prohibited our procuring it of foreigners without paying a tax, imposed by your Parliament, on all we imported. These, and many other impositions [unreasonable demands], were laid upon us, most unjustly and unconstitutionally, for the express purpose of raising a revenue. In order to silence complaint, it was indeed provided that this revenue should be expended [spent] in America for its protection and defense. These exactions [taxes, fees], however, can receive no justification from a pretended necessity of protecting and defending us. They are lavishly squandered on court favorites [cronies] and ministerial [government] dependants, generally avowed enemies to America, and employing themselves by partial representations to traduce [slander] and embroil [involve] the colonies. For the necessary support of government here, we ever were and ever shall be ready to provide. And whenever the exigencies [urgent needs] of the state may require it, we shall, as we have heretofore done, cheerfully contribute our full proportion of men and money. To enforce this unconstitutional and unjust scheme of taxation, every fence that the wisdom of our British ancestors had carefully erected against arbitrary power, has been violently thrown down in America, and the inestimable [priceless] right of trial by jury taken away, in cases that touch both life and property. It was ordained that whenever offences should be committed in the colonies against particular acts, imposing various duties and restrictions upon trade, the prosecutor might bring his action for the penalties in the Courts of Admiralty, by which means the subject lost the advantage of being tried by an honest, uninfluenced jury of the vicinage [vicinity, proximity, immediate area], and was subjected to the sad necessity of being judged by a single man, a creature of the crown, and according to the course of a law which exempts the prosecutor from the trouble of proving his accusation, and obliges the defendant either to evince [show clearly] his innocence or to suffer. To give this new judicatory [tribunal] the greater importance, and as if with design to protect false accusers, it is further provided, that the judge’s certificate of there having been probable causes of seizure and prosecution, shall protect the prosecutor [exempt] from actions at common law for recovery of damages.

By the course of our law, offences committed in such of the British dominions in which courts are established, and justice duly and regularly administered, shall be there tried by a jury of the vicinage. There the offenders and the witnesses are known, and the degree of credibility to be given to their testimony can be ascertained.

In all these colonies justice is regularly and impartially administered; and yet, by the construction of some, and the direction of other acts of Parliament, offenders are to be taken by force, together with all such persons as may be pointed out as witnesses, and carried to England, there to be tried in a distant land, by a jury of strangers, and subject to all the disadvantages that result from the want of friends, want of witnesses, and want of money.

When the design of raising a revenue from the duties imposed on the importation of tea into America, had in great measure been rendered abortive by our ceasing to import that commodity, a scheme was concerted [planned] by the ministry with the East India Company, and an act passed, enabling and encouraging them to transport and vend [sale] it in the colonies. Aware of the danger of giving success to this insidious [causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed] maneuver, and of permitting a precedent of taxation thus to be established among us, various methods were adopted to elude the stroke. The people of Boston, then ruled by a governor whom, as well as his predecessor, Sir Francis Bernard, all America considers as her enemy, were exceedingly embarrassed. The ships which had arrived with the tea were, by his management, prevented from returning. The duties would have been paid; the cargoes landed and exposed to sale; a governor’s influence would have procured [secured] and protected many purchasers. While the town was suspended by deliberations on this important subject the tea was destroyed. Even supposing a trespass was thereby committed and the proprietors of the tea entitled to damages, the courts of law were open, and judges, appointed by the crown, presided in them. The East India Company, however, did not think proper to commence any suits, nor did they even demand satisfaction, either from individuals or from the community in general. The ministry, it seems, officiously made the case their own, and the great council of the nation descended to intermeddle with a dispute about private property. Divers [numerous] papers, letters, and other unauthenticated ex parte evidence, were laid before them. Neither the persons who destroyed the tea, nor the people of Boston, were called upon to answer the complaint. The ministry, incensed by being disappointed in a favorite scheme, were determined to recur from the little arts of finesse to open force and unmanly violence. The port of Boston was blocked up by a fleet, and an army placed in the town. Their trade was to be suspended, and thousands reduced to the necessity of gaining subsistence from charity, till they should submit to pass under the yoke and consent to become slaves, by confessing the omnipotence of Parliament, and acquiescing [submit or comply silently or without protest] in whatever disposition [arrangement] they might think proper to make of their lives and property.

Let justice and humanity cease to be the boast of your nation! Consult your history; examine your records of former transactions; nay, turn to the annals [chronicles, accounts] of the many arbitrary states and kingdoms that surround you, and show us a single instance of men being condemned to suffer for imputed [blamed for; made-up] crimes, unheard, unquestioned, and without even the specious [falsely appearing to be fair, just, or right] formality of a trial; and that, too, by laws made expressly for the purpose, and which had no existence at the time of the fact committed. If it be difficult to reconcile these proceedings to the genius and temper of your laws and constitution, the task will become more arduous [difficult] when we call upon our ministerial enemies to justify, not only condemning men untried and by hearsay, but involving the innocent in one common punishment with the guilty, and for the act of thirty or forty to bring poverty, distress, and calamity on thirty thousand souls, and those not your enemies, but your friends, brethren, and fellow-subjects.

It would be some consolation to us if the catalog of American oppressions ended here. It gives us pain to be reduced to the necessity of reminding you, that under the confidence reposed [relied upon] in the faith of government, pledged in a royal charter from a British sovereign, the forefathers of the present inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay left their former habitations, and established that great, flourishing, and loyal colony. Without incurring or being charged with a forfeiture of their rights, without being heard, without being tried, without law and without justice, by an act of Parliament their charter is destroyed, their liberties violated, their constitution and form of government changed; and all this upon no better pretense than because in one of their towns a trespass was committed on some merchandise, said to belong to one of the companies, and because the ministry were of opinion that such high political regulations were necessary to compel due subordination and obedience to their mandates.

Nor are these the only capital [most serious] grievances under which we labor. We might tell of dissolute [depraved, immoral], weak and wicked governors having been set over us; of legislatures being suspended for asserting the rights of British subjects; of needy and ignorant dependents on great men advanced to the seats of justice, and to other places of trust and importance; of hard restrictions on commerce, and a great variety of lesser evils, the recollection of which is almost lost under the weight and pressure of greater and more poignant calamities.

Now mark the progression of the ministerial plan for enslaving us.

Well aware that such hardy attempts to take our property from us; to deprive us of that valuable right of trial by jury; to seize our persons, and carry us for trial to Great Britain; to blockade our ports; to destroy our charters and change our forms of government; would occasion, and had already occasioned, great discontent in the colonies, which might produce opposition to these measures, an act was passed to protect, indemnify [protect], and screen from punishment, such as might be guilty even of murder, in endeavoring to carry their oppressive edicts [rules, proclamations] into execution; and by another act, the dominion of Canada is to be so extended, modeled and governed, as that, by being disunited from us, detached from our interests, by civil as well as religious prejudices; that by their numbers daily swelling with Catholic emigrants from Europe, and by their devotion to an administration so friendly to their religion, they might become formidable to us, and on occasion be fit instruments, in the hands of power, to reduce the ancient free Protestant colonies to the same state of slavery with themselves.

This was evidently the object of the act; and in this view, being extremely dangerous to our liberty and quiet, we cannot forbear complaining of it, as hostile to British America. Superadded [add to what has already been added] to these considerations, we cannot help deploring the unhappy condition to which it has reduced the many English settlers who, encouraged by the royal proclamation, promising the enjoyment of all their rights, have purchased estates in that country. They are now the subjects of an arbitrary government, deprived of trial by jury, and when imprisoned, cannot claim the benefit of the habeas corpus act—that great bulwark and palladium of English liberty. Nor can we suppress our astonishment, that a British Parliament should ever consent to establish in that country, a religion that has deluged your island in blood, and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.

This being a true state of facts, let us beseech you to consider to what end they may lead.

Admit that the ministry, by the powers of Britain and the aid of our Roman Catholic neighbors, should be able to carry the point of taxation, and reduce us to a state of perfect humiliation and slavery: such an enterprise would doubtless make some addition to your national debt, which already presses down your liberties, and fills you with pensioners and placemen. We presume, also, that your commerce will somewhat be diminished. However, suppose you should prove victorious, in what condition will you then be? What advantages or laurels will you reap from such a conquest?

May not a ministry, with the same armies enslave you? It may be said, you will cease to pay them—but remember the taxes from America, the wealth, and we may add the men, and particularly the Roman Catholics of this vast continent, will then be in the power of your enemies; nor will you have any reason to expect that after making slaves of us, many among us should refuse to assist in reducing you to the same abject state.

Do not treat this as chimerical. Know that in less than half a century, the quit rents reserved to the Crown, from the numberless grants of this vast continent, will pour large streams of wealth into the royal coffers, and if to this be added the power of taxing America at pleasure, the Crown will be rendered independent of you for supplies, and will possess more treasure than may be necessary to purchase the remains of liberty in your island. In a word, take care that you do not fall into the pit that is preparing for us.

We believe there is yet much virtue, much justice, and much public spirit in the English nation. To that justice we now appeal. You have been told that we are seditious, impatient of government, and desirous of independency. Be assured that these are not facts, but calumnies [slander, character assignation]. Permit us to be as free as yourselves, and we shall ever esteem a union with you, to be our greatest glory, and our greatest happiness; we shall ever be ready to contribute all in our power to the welfare of the empire; we shall consider your enemies as our enemies, and your interest as our own.

But, if you are determined that your ministers shall wantonly sport with the rights of mankind—if neither the voice of justice, the dictates of the law, the principles of the Constitution, or the suggestions of humanity, can restrain your hands from shedding human blood, in such an impious cause, we must then tell you, that we will never submit to be hewers of wood or drawers of water, for any ministry, or nation in the world.

Place us in the same situation that we were in, at the close of the last war, and our former harmony will be restored.

But lest the same supineness [Marked by or showing lethargy, passivity, or blameworthy indifference], and the same inattention to our common interest, which you have for several years shown, should continue, we think it prudent to anticipate the consequences.

By the destruction of the trade of Boston, the ministry have endeavored to induce submission to their measures. The like fate may befall us all. We will endeavor, therefore, to live without trade, and recur for subsistence to the fertility and bounty of our native soil, which will afford us all the necessaries, and some of the conveniences of life. We have suspended our importation from Great Britain and Ireland; and, in less than a year’s time, unless our grievances should be redressed, shall discontinue our exports to those kingdoms, and the West Indies.

It is with the utmost regret, however, that we find ourselves compelled, by the overruling principles of self-preservation, to adopt measures detrimental in their consequences, to numbers of our fellow-subjects in Great Britain and Ireland. But, we hope, that the magnanimity and justice of the British nation will furnish a Parliament of such wisdom, independence, and public spirit, as may save the violated rights of the whole empire, from the devices of wicked ministers and evil counselors, whether in or out of office; and thereby restore that harmony, friendship, and fraternal affection between all the inhabitants of his Majesty’s kingdoms and territories, so ardently wished for by every true and honest American.

Extract from Hyperion by “The Patriot” Josiah Quincy Jr., 1768

JosiahQuincy_byStuart1

Josiah Quincy Jr. (1744 –1775) AKA “The Patriot” was an American lawyer and patriot. He was a principal spokesman for the Sons of Liberty in Boston prior to the Revolution. He was an energetic advocate for the Whig party in the pre-Revolutionary political debates. With John Adams he defended Captain Preston after the so-called “Boston Massacre,” and in 1774, when scarcely thirty years of age, he was the confidential agent in London of the patriot party. Dying on shipboard, almost in sight of his native New England coast, Josiah Quincy, J r., left behind him an infant son, whose long and honorable life, beginning before the Revolution, outlasted the war of the Rebellion. But President Josiah Quincy, of Harvard College, though he lived all his life on the family-place at Quincy, always identified himself with the city of Boston.

The commonwealth itself has no other strength or hope than the intelligence and virtue of the individuals that compose it. For the intelligence and virtue of individuals there is no other human assurance than laws providing for the education of the whole people. These laws themselves have no strength, or efficient sanction, except in the moral and accountable nature of man disclosed in the records of the Christian’s faith; the right to read, to construe, and to judge concerning which belongs to no class or caste of men, but exclusively to the individual, who must stand or fall by his own acts and his own faith, and not by those of another.The great comprehensive truths, written in letters of living light on every page of our history, the language addressed by every past age of New England to all future ages, is this: Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom; freedom, none but virtue; virtue, none but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has any vigor, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian faith, and in the sanctions of the Christian religion.” ~ Josiah Quincy, October 1831; Harvard University; Dedication of the Dane Law College

Extract from “Hyperion*” by The Patriot; Josiah Quincy Jr., 1768

* The first part of this extract was published in the Boston Gazette in September, 1767, on receiving information of threatening import from England; the remainder appeared in October, 1768, when British troops had landed in Boston, and taken possession of Faneuil Hall, under circumstances intended to inspire the people with alarm and terror.—Ed.

When I reflect on the exalted character of the ancient Britons, on the fortitude of our illustrious predecessors, on the noble struggles of the late memorable period, and from these reflections, when, by a natural transition, I contemplate the gloomy aspect of the present day, my heart is alternately torn with doubt and hope, despondency and terror. Can the true, generous magnanimity of British heroes be entirely lost in their degenerate progeny? Is the genius of liberty, which so late inflamed our bosoms, fled forever?

An attentive observer of the deportment of some particular persons in this metropolis would be apt to imagine, that the grand point was gained; that the spirit of the people was entirely broken to the yoke; that all America was subjugated to bondage. Already the minions of power, in fancy, fatten and grow wanton on the spoils of the land. They insolently toss the head, and put on the air of contemptuous disdain. In the imaginary possession of lordships and dominions, these potentates and powers dare tell us, that our only hope is to crouch, to cower under, and to kiss, the iron rod of oppression. Precious sample of the meek and lowly temper of those who are destined to be our lords and masters!

Be not deceived, my countrymen. Believe not these venal hirelings, when they would cajole you by their subtleties into submission, or frighten you by their vaporings into compliance. When they strive to flatter you by the terms “moderation and prudence,” tell them that calmness and deliberation are to guide the judgment; courage and intrepidity command the action. When they endeavour to make us “perceive our inability to oppose our mother country,” let us boldly answer;—In defence of our civil and religious rights, we dare oppose the world; with the God of armies on our side, even the God who fought our fathers’ battles, we fear not the hour of trial, though the hosts of our enemies should cover the field like locusts. If this be enthusiasm, we will live and die enthusiasts.

Blandishments will not fascinate us, nor will threats of a “halter” intimidate. For, under God, we are determined, that wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our exit, we will die freemen. Well do we know that all the regalia of this world cannot dignify the death of a villain, nor diminish the ignominy, with which a slave shall quit existence. Neither can it taint the unblemished honor of a son of freedom, though he should make his departure on the already prepared gibbet, or be dragged to the newly erected scaffold for execution. With the plaudits of his conscience he will go off the stage. A crown of joy and immortality shall be his reward. The history of his life his children shall venerate. The virtues of their sire shall excite their emulation.

If there ever was a time, this is the hour, for Americans to rouse themselves, and exert every ability. Their all is at a hazard, and the die of fate spins doubtful. In vain do we talk of magnanimity and heroism, in vain do we trace a descent from the worthies of the earth, if we inherit not the spirit of our ancestors. Who is he that boasteth of his patriotism? Has he vanquished luxury, and subdued the worldly pride of his heart? Is he not still drinking the poisonous draught, and rolling the sweet morsel under his tongue? He who cannot conquer the little vanity of his heart, and deny the delicacy of a debauched palate, let him lay his hand upon his mouth, and his mouth in the dust.

Now is the time for this people to summon every aid, human and divine; to exhibit every moral virtue, and call forth every Christian grace. The wisdom of the serpent, the innocence of the dove, and the intrepidity of the lion, with the blessing of God, will yet save us from the jaws of destruction.

Where is the boasted liberty of Englishmen, if property may be disposed of, charters suspended, assemblies dissolved, and every valued right annihilated, at the uncontrollable will of an external power? Does not every man, who feels one ethereal spark yet glowing in his bosom, find his indignation kindle at the bare imagination of such wrongs? What would be our sentiments were this imagination realized.

Did the blood of the ancient Britons swell our veins, did the spirit of our forefathers inhabit our breasts, should we hesitate a moment in preferring death to a miserable existence in bondage? Did we reflect on their toils, their dangers, their fiery trials, the thought would inspire unconquerable courage.

Who has the front to ask, Wherefore do you complain? Who dares assert, that everything worth living for is not lost, when a nation is enslaved? Are not pensioners, stipendiaries and salary-men, unknown before, hourly multiplying upon us, to riot in the spoils of miserable America? Does not every eastern gale waft us some new insect, even of that devouring kind, which eat up every green thing? Is not the bread taken out of the children’s mouths and given unto the dogs? Are not our estates given to corrupt sycophants, without a design, or even a pretense, of soliciting our assent; and our lives put into the hands of those whose tender mercies are cruelties? Has not an authority in a distant land, in the most public manner, proclaimed a right of disposing of the all of Americans? In short, what have we to lose? What have we to fear? Are not our distresses more than we can bear? And, to finish all, are not our cities, in a time of profound peace, filled with standing armies, to preclude from us that last solace of the wretched—to open their mouths in complaint, and send forth their cries in bitterness of heart?

But is there no ray of hope? Is not Great Britain inhabited by the children of those renowned barons, who waded through seas of crimson gore to establish their liberty? and will they not allow us, their fellow-men, to enjoy that freedom which we claim from nature, which is confirmed by our constitution, and which they pretend so highly to value? Were a tyrant to conquer us, the chains of slavery, when opposition should become useless, might be supportable; but to be shackled by Englishmen,—by our equals,—is not to be borne. By the sweat of our brow we earn the little we possess; from nature we derive the common rights of man; and by charter we claim the liberties of Britons. Shall we, dare we, pusillanimously surrender our birthright? la the obligation to our fathers discharged? Is the debt we owe posterity paid? Answer me, thou coward, who hidest thyself in the hour of trial; •If there is no reward in this life, no prize of glory in the next, capable of animating thy dastard soul, think and tremble, thou miscreant! at the whips and stripes thy master shall lash thee with on earth,—and the flames and scorpions thy second master shall torment thee with hereafter!

Oh, my countrymen! what will our children say, when they read the history of these times, should they find that we tamely gave away, without one noble struggle, the most invaluable of earthly blessings! As they drag the galling chain, will they not execrate us? If we have any respect for things sacred, any regard to the dearest treasure on earth; if we have one tender sentiment for posterity; if we would not be despised by the whole world; — let us, in the most open, solemn manner, and with determined fortitude, swear—We will die, if we cannot live freemen!

Be not lulled, my countrymen, with vain imaginations or idle fancies. To hope for the protection of Heaven, without doing our duty, and exerting ourselves as becomes men, is to mock the Deity. Wherefore had man his reason, if it were not to direct him? wherefore his strength, if it be not his protection? To banish folly and luxury, correct vice and immorality, and stand immoveable in the freedom in which we are free indeed, is eminently the duty of each individual at this day. When this is done, we may rationally hope for an answer to our prayers—for the whole counsel of God, and the invincible armor of the Almighty.

However righteous our cause, we cannot, in this period of the world, expect a miraculous salvation. Heaven will undoubtedly assist us if we act like men; but to expect protection from above, while we are enervated by luxury, and slothful in the exertion of those abilities, with which we are endued, is an expectation vain and foolish. With the smiles of Heaven, virtue, unanimity and firmness will ensure success. While we have equity, justice and God on our side, Tyranny, spiritual or temporal, shall never ride triumphant in a land inhabited by Englishmen.

An attentive observer of the deportment of some particular persons in this metropolis would be apt to imagine, that the grand point was gained; that the spirit of the people was entirely broken to the yoke; that all America was subjugated to bondage. Already the minions of power in fancy fatten and grow wanton on the spoils of the land. They insolently toss the head, and put on the air of contemptuous disdain. In the imaginary possession of lordships and dominions, these potentates and powers dare tell us, that our only hope is to crouch, to cower under, and to kiss, the iron rod of oppression. Precious sample of the meek and lowly temper of those who are destined to be our lords and masters!

Conclusion of “Observations on the Boston Port Bill.”

Thus, my countrymen, from the days of Gardiner and Morton, Gorges and Mason, Randolph and Cranfield, down to the present day, the inhabitants of this northern region have constantly been in dangers and troubles, from foes open and secret, abroad and in their bosom. Our freedom has been the object of envy, and to make void the charter of our liberties the work and labour of an undiminished race of villains. One cabal having failed of success, new conspirators have risen, and what the first could not make “void,” the next “humbly desired to revoke.” To this purpose one falsehood after another hath been fabricated and spread abroad with equal turpitude and equal effrontery. That minute detail, which would present actors now on the stage, is the province of History. She, inexorably severe towards the eminently guilty, will delineate their characters with the point of a diamond; and, thus blazoned in the face of day, the abhorrence and execrations of mankind will consign them to an infamous immortality.

So great has been the credulity of the British court from the beginning, or such hath been the activity of false brethren, that no tale inimical to the Northern Colonies, however false or absurd, but what hath found credit with the administration, and operated to the prejudice of the country. Thus it was told and believed in England, that we were not in earnest in the expedition against Canada at the beginning of this century, and that the country did everything in its power to defeat the success of it, and that the misfortune of that attempt ought to be wholly attributed to the Northern Colonies: while nothing could be more obvious, than that New England had exhausted her youngest blood, and all her treasures, in the undertaking; and that every motive of self-preservation, happiness and safety must have operated to excite these provinces to the, most spirited and persevering measures against Canada.

The people, who are attacked by bad men, have a testimony of their merit, as the constitution, which is invaded by powerful men, hath an evidence of its value. The path of our duty needs no minute delineation; it lies level to the eye. Let us apply, then, like men sensible of its importance, and determined on its fulfillment. The inroads on our public liberty call for reparation; the wrongs we have sustained call for justice. That reparation and that justice may yet be obtained by union, spirit and firmness. But to divide and conquer was the maxim of the devil in, the garden of Eden; and to disunite and enslave hath been the principle of all his votaries from that period to the present. The crimes of the guilty are to them the cords of association, and dread of punishment the indissoluble bond of union. The combinations of public robbers ought, therefore, to cement patriots and heroes: and, as the former plot and conspire to undermine and destroy the commonwealth, the latter ought to form a compact for opposition,— a band of vengeance.

What insidious arts, and what detestable practices, have been used to deceive, disunite and enslave the good people of this continent! The mystic appellations of loyalty and allegiance, the venerable names of government and good order, and the sacred ones of piety and public virtue, have been alternately prostituted to that abominable purpose. All the windings and guises, subterfuges and doublings, of which the human soul is susceptible, have been displayed on the occasion. But secrets, which were thought impenetrable, are no longer hid; characters deeply disguised are openly revealed; and the discovery of gross impostors hath generally preceded but a short time their utter extirpation.

Be not again, my countrymen, “easily captivated with the appearances only of wisdom and piety,—professions of a regard to liberty, and of a strong attachment to the public interest.” Your fathers have been explicitly charged with this folly by one of their posterity. Avoid this and all similar errors. Be cautious against the deception of appearances. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” was the saying of one, who perfectly knew the Human heart. Judge of affairs which concern social happiness by facts: judge of man by his deeds. For it is very certain, that pious zeal for days and times, for mint and cumin, hath often been pretended by those who were infidels at bottom; and it is as certain, that attachment to the dignity of government and the king’s service, hath often flowed from the mouths of men, who harboured the darkest machinations against the true end of the former, and were destitute of every right principle of loyalty to the latter. Hence, then, care and circumspection are necessary branches of political duty. And, as “it is much easier to restrain liberty from running into licentiousness, than power from swelling into tyranny and oppression,” so much more caution and resistance are required against the overbearing of rulers, than the extravagance of the people.

To give no more authority to any order of state, and to place no greater public confidence in any man, than is necessary for the general welfare, may be considered by the people as an important point of policy. But though craft and hypocrisy are prevalent, yet piety and virtue have a real existence: duplicity and political imposture abound, yet benevolence and public spirit are not altogether banished the world. As wolves will appear in sheep’s clothing, so superlative knaves and parricides will assume the vesture of the man of virtue and patriotism.

These things are permitted by Providence, no doubt, for wise and good reasons. Man was created for a rational, and was designed for an active being. His faculties of intelligence and force were given him for use. When the wolf, therefore, is found devouring the flock, no hierarchy forbids a seizure of the victim for sacrifice; so, also, when dignified impostors are caught destroying those whom their arts deceive, though their stations destined them to protect,—the sabre of justice flashes righteousness at the stroke of execution.

Yet be not amused, my countrymen! The extirpation of bondage and the re-establishment of freedom are not of easy acquisition. The worst passions of the human heart and the most subtle projects of the human mind, are leagued against you; and principalities and powers have acceded to the combination. Trials and conflicts you must, therefore, endure; hazards and jeopardies of life and fortune will attend the struggle. Such is the fate of all noble exertions for public liberty and social happiness. Enter not the lists without thought and consideration, lest you arm with timidity, and combat with irresolution. Having engaged in the conflict, let nothing discourage your vigour, or repel your perseverance. Remember that submission to the yoke of bondage is the worst that can befall a people, after the most fierce and unsuccessful resistance. What can the misfortunes of vanquishment take away, which despotism and rapine would spare ?” It had been easy,” said the great lawgiver Solon to the Athenians, “to repress the advances of tyranny, and prevent its establishment; but, now it is established and grown to some height, it would be more glorious to demolish it.” But nothing glorious is accomplished, nothing great is attained, nothing valuable is secured, without magnanimity of mind, and devotion of heart to the service. Brutus-like, therefore, dedicate yourselves at this day to the service of your country; and henceforth live a life of liberty and glory. “On the ides of March,”—said the great and good man to his friend Cassius, just before the battle of Philippi,—”on the ides of March I devoted my life to my country, and since that time I have lived a life of liberty and glory.”

Inspired with public virtue, touched with the wrongs, and indignant at the insults, offered his country, the highspirited Cassius exhibits an heroic example;—” Resolved as we are,”—replied the hero to his friend,—”resolved as we are, let us march against the enemy; for, though we should not conquer, we have nothing to fear.”

Spirits and genii like these rose in Rome, and have since adorned Britain; such also will one day make glorious this more western world. America hath in store her Bruti and Cassii—her Hampdens and Sydneys—patriots and heroes, who will form a band of brothers;—men, who will have memories and feelings, courage and swords,—courage, that shall inflame their ardent bosoms till their hands cleave to their swords, and their swords to their enemies hearts.

Prophetic: Necessity of a Pure National Morality by Lyman Beecher

Lyman_Beecher

Prophetic Sermon by Lyman Beecher; the father of Henry Ward Beecher

Necessity of a Pure National Morality; by Lyman Beecher (1775 – 1863) Presbyterian minister.

Ezekiel, xxxiii. 10.

Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; thus ye speak, saying, if our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

At the time this direction was given to the prophet, the nation of Israel had become very wicked, and were suffering in captivity the punishment of their sins; and yet they did not reform. They affected to doubt whether, if they did reform, the Most High would pardon them; and if he would, it would afford them no consolation, for reformation, they insisted, had become hopeless. “Our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?” The burden has increased, until we are crushed beneath it—the disease has progressed, until it has become incurable.

They were correct in the inference that if they did not reform they must die; but they erred lamentably in the conclusion that reformation was hopeless.

To wipe off such an aspersion from his character, and to banish from the minds of his people such desponding apprehensions, the Most High condescends to expostulate with them. Have I any pleasure in the death of him that dieth? Is it my fault, that nations are wicked? Do I constrain them to sin, or prevent their reformation? As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: “turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

We are brought, therefore, by the text and its connections, to the doctrine,

That A Work Of Reformation, In A Time Of Great Moral Declension, Is A Difficult, But By No Means An Impracticable Work.

In the illustration of this doctrine, it is proposed to consider,

I. Some of the difficulties, which may be expected to impede a work of reformation.

II. Show that such a work is, notwithstanding, entirely practicable.

III. Consider some of the ways, in which it may be successfully attempted. And

IV. The motives to immediate exertion.

With respect to the difficulties which may be expected to attend a work of reformation, one obvious impediment will be found in the number and character of those who must be immediately affected by such a work.

The sons of Belial, in a time of declension, are numerous and daring. Emboldened by impunity, they have declared themselves independent both of God and man, and are leagued by a common interest and a common feeling, to defend their usurped immunities. They are watchful and zealous; and the moment an effort is made to execute the laws, every mouth is open against the work; and their clamors, and sneers, and threatenings, and lies, like the croakings of Egypt, fill the land.

This direct opposition, may be expected to receive from various sources collateral aid. In this wicked world, where the love of money is the root of evil, there are not a few who traffic in the souls and bodies of men. Not immoral always, in their own conduct, they thrive by the vices of other men; and may be tempted to resist a reformation which would dry up these impure sources of revenue. They would not justify intemperance, nor the means of promoting it; but pretexts are never wanting to conceal the real motives of men, and justify opposition to whatever they deem inconsistent with their interest. Though reformation, therefore, might be admitted to be desirable, either the motives of those who make the attempt, or the means by which they make it, will always be wrong; and it will be impossible ever to devise a right way, till their interest is on the other side. In many cases, it is to be hoped, that integrity would get the victory over cupidity; but in many more, it is to be feared, that avarice, secretly or openly, would send recruits to the standard of opposition.

This phalanx may receive some augmentation from those, whose pride may be wounded through the medium of their unhappy relatives. They could endure to see them live in infamy, and die in despair, while they shrink from the imagined disgrace of applying a remedy which may rescue the victim, or limit the influence of his pestilent example. How long shall it be, ere men will learn that sin is infamy, and that reformation is glory and honor!

To the preceding, must be added the opposition of all the timid, falsely called, peace makers.

They lament bitterly the prevailing evils of the day, and multiply predictions of divine judgments and speedy ruin; but if a voice be raised, or a finger be lifted to attempt a reformation, they are in a tremor lest the peace of society be invaded. Their maxim would seem to be, ‘better to die in sin, if we may but die quietly, than to purchase life and honor by contending for them.’ If men will be wicked, let them be wicked, if they will but be peaceable. But the mischief is, men freed from restraint will be wicked, and will not be peaceable. No method can be devised more effectual to destroy the peace of society, than tamely to give up the laws to conciliate the favor of the flagitious. Like the tribute paid by the degenerate Romans to purchase peace of the northern barbarians, every concession will increase the demand, and render resistance more hopeless.

Another class of men will encamp very near the enemy, through mere love of ease.

They would have no objection that vice should be suppressed and good morals promoted, if these events would come to pass of their own accord; but, when the question is asked, ‘What must be done?’ this talk of action is a terrific thing; and if, in their panic, they go not over to the enemy, it is only because the enemy also demands courage and enterprise. In this dilemma, it is judged expedient to put in requisition the resources of wisdom, and gravely to caution against rashness, and innovation, and zeal without knowledge, until all about them are persuaded that the safest, and wisest, and easiest way, is to do nothing.

There is another class of men, not too indolent, but too exclusively occupied with schemes of personal enterprise, to bestow their time or labor upon plans which regard only the general good.

If their fields bring forth abundantly, if their profession be lucrative, if they can buy, and sell, and get gain, it is enough. Society must take care of itself. Distant consequences are not regarded, and generations to come must provide for their own safety. The stream of business hurries them on without the leisure of a moment, or an anxious thought concerning the general welfare.

Another impediment to be apprehended when the work of reformation is attempted, is found in the large territory of neutral ground, which, on such occasions, is often very populous.

Many would engage in the enterprise cheerfully, were they quite certain it could be done with perfect safety. But perhaps it may injure their interest, or affect their popularity. They take their stand therefore, on this safe middle ground—they will not oppose the work, for perhaps it may be popular; and they will not help the work, for perhaps it may be unpopular. They wait therefore, till they perceive whether Israel or Amalek prevail, and then, with much self complacency, fall in on the popular side. This neutral territory is especially large in a republican government, where so much emolument and the gratification of so much ambition depend upon the suffrages of the people. It requires no deep investigation to make it manifest to the candidate for suffrage, that if he lend his influence to prevent travelling on the sabbath, the sabbath-breaker will not vote for him; if he lay his hand upon tippling shops and drunkards, the whole suffrage of those who are implicated will be turned against him. Hence, many who should be a terror to evil doers, will bear the sword in vain. They will persuade themselves that theirs is a peculiar case; and that it is not best for them to volunteer in the work of reformation.

To reduce the power of this, temptation, it may be laid down as a maxim, that when the toleration of crimes becomes the price of public suffrage, when the people will not endure the restraint of righteous laws, but will reward magistrates who violate their oath and suffer them to sin with impunity, and when magistrates will sell their consciences and the public good for a little brief authority,’ then the public suffrage is of but little value, for the day of liberty is drawing to a close, and the night of despotism is at hand. The people are prepared to become slaves; and the flagitious to usurp the government, and rule them with a rod of iron. No compact formed by man is more unhallowed or pernicious, than this tacit compact between rulers and the people to dispense with the laws, and tolerate crimes.

In the midst of these difficulties, there are not a few who greatly magnify them by despondency. Like the captive Israelites, they sit down, and fold their hands, and sigh, and weep, and wish that something might be done, but inculcate unceasingly the disheartening prediction, that nothing can be done. “It is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our oivn sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Because the work cannot be done at once, they conclude that it can never be done. Because all that might be desirable cannot, perhaps ever, be obtained, they conclude that nothing can be obtained. Talk of reformation, and the whole nation with all its crimes rises up before them, and fills them with dismay and despair. It seems never to have occurred to them, that if we cannot do great good, it is best to do a little; and that, by accomplishing with persevering industry all that is practicable, the ultimate amount may be great, surpassing expectation.

There is yet another class of people who by no means despair of deliverance, but they have no conception that human exertion will be of much avail. ‘If we are delivered, God must deliver us, and we must pray and wait, till it shall please him to come and save us.’ But, upon this principle we may pray and wait forever, and the Lord will not come. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of means, and though the excellency of the power belongs to him exclusively, human instrumentality is indispensable.

It is by no means improbable that some may be aroused to oppose any special efforts at reformation, merely from their novelty. It is lamentable that such efforts should be a novelty in a world, where they are always so necessary to keep back the encroachments of vice—but so it is. If the exertions, however good and proper, have not been made before, it seems to be with some a valid reason why they never should be made.—’ What new thing is this? Did our fathers ever do so?’ They had not the same occasion. But because they did not make special efforts to repel an enemy which did not assail them, shall we neglect to resist an enemy which is pouring in like a flood, and threatening to sweep us away? There are some who look with cold philosophic eye upon the progress of crimes, as a part of that great course of events which will roll on resistless in spite of human endeavor. And we know, that the genius of the government, the progress of science, and the refinement of wealth and luxury, will draw after them a train of consequences which no human efforts can prevent. But are these consequences evil only? Are not certain vices left behind in the rude age, and certain virtues produced by the age of refinement? If there be greater facilities of committing crimes, are there not also increased facilities of preventing them? And if the balance be, on the whole, against us, is this an argument that we can do nothing; or only that we should double our diligence as dangers increase? Because nations have not resisted this tide of human events, does it follow that it cannot be resisted? May not the deleterious causes be modified and counteracted, and their results delayed, if not averted? Will the christian religion and its institutions exert no saving influence in our favor? Because Greece and Rome who had not this precious system, perished by their vices, is it certain that nations must perish now, who experience its preserving influence? We have seen what idols can do, and we have before us the results of atheism. Let us now, with double diligence water the tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations; and not despair of its restoring influence, till the experiment has been faithfully made and has failed.

But not a few, after all, it may be feared, will stand aloof from the work of reformation, from the persuasion that we are in no danger. ‘The world is no worse than it always has been, and this pretence of growing wickedness, is only a song of alarm sung by superstition, from age to age.’ Surely then, if we may credit testimony, the world has been uniformly bad enough to make reformation desirable; and if, without special efforts, it has been stationary, the prospect of improvement by exertion is bright, and we are utterly inexcusable if we do not make the attempt.

But is it true that nations do not decline? Whence then the punishment of the Israelites for this sin, and whence the maxim we have just combated, that they must and will decline? Were the morals of the Roman empire as good when it was sold at auction, as at any antecedent period? Was the age of Charles the Second in England as favorable to virtue, as any preceding age? Did the late war produce in our own land, no change for the worse? Are the morals of New England as pure now, as they ever have been? Is the God of heaven as universally worshipped in the family? Are children as much accustomed to subordination, and as faithfully instructed in religion? Are the laws against immorality as faithfully executed, and the occasions for their interference as few, as at any former period? Has there been no increase of slander, falsehood, and perjury? Is the sabbath day remembered and kept holy, with its ancient strictness? Did our fathers journey, and labor in the field, and visit, and ride out for amusement on that holy day, and do these things with impunity? Has there been no increase of intemperance? Was there consumed, in the days of our fathers, the proportion of five gallons of ardent spirits for every man, woman, and child in the land; and at an expense, more than sufficient to support the Gospel, the civil government, and every school and literary institution? Did our fathers tolerate tippling-shops all over the land, and enrich merchants and beggar their families, by mortgaging their estates to pay the expenses of intemperance? Did the ardent spirits consumed by laborers amount, not unfrequently, to almost half the price of their labor; and did they faint often ere the day was past, and fail before the summer was ended, and die of intemperance in the midst of their days? It is capable of demonstration, that the vigor of our countrymen, the amount of productive labor and their morals, are declining together under the influence of this destructive sin.

We are to show

II. That notwithstanding all these impediments, a reformation is entirely practicable.

If it were not practicable, why should it be commanded, and disobedience be followed with fearful punishment? Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Are not all his requisitions according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not? The commands of God are the measure and the evidence of human ability. He is not an hard master, reaping where he has not sowed, and gathering where he has not strawed. The way of the Lord is not unequal—he never demands of men the performance of impossibilities. We conclude therefore, that reformation is practicable, because it is the unceasing demand of heaven, that nations, as well as individuals, do turn from their evil ways.

But facts corroborate theory. Reformations great and difficult, have been achieved. Such was the reformation from Popery begun by Luther. Who, before the event, would have conceived it possible, that an individual could awake half of Europe from the slumber of ages, and shed upon the nations that light, which is shining more and more to the perfect day.

The abolition of the slave trade in England, and in our own country, is a memorable exhibition of what may be done by well directed, persevering efforts. The inhuman traffic was sanctioned by custom, defended by argument, and, still more powerfully, by a vast monied capital embarked in the trade. It is not yet fifty years since this first effort was made, and-now the victory is won. Who produced this mighty revolution? A few men at first lifted up their voice, and were reinforced by others, till the immortal work was done.

A thousandth part of the study, and exertion, and expense, and suffering, endured to achieve our independence, would be sufficient with the divine blessing, to preserve our morals and perpetuate our liberties forever. Should a foreign foe invade us, there would be no despondency; every pulse would beat high, and every arm would be strong. It is only when criminals demand the surrender of our laws and institutions, that all faces gather paleness and all hearts are faint. Men, who would fly to the field of battle to rescue their country from shame, tremble at the song of the drunkard, and flee, panic struck, before the army of the aliens.

But we have facts to produce, facts, more decisive than a thousand arguments, to prove that such reformation as we need is practicable.

Desperate as the state of the Jews was in their own estimation, they were reformed, and did not at that time, pine away and die in their sins. And never, perhaps, was such a work attended with circumstances of greater difficulty. The whole order of God’s worship had been superseded by the captivity, and was again to be restored. Many of the people had contracted unlawful marriages; and husbands and wives were to be separated, and parents and children. Some had been in the habit of treading the wine press on the sabbath day, and bringing in sheaves, and wine, and grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens. The people held also constant intercourse with Syrian merchants, who came into their city on the sabbath and traded with them. But great as were the difficulties, Nehemiah and Ezra and the elders of the land undertook, and by the help of God accomplished the work of reformation.

Other efforts of the same kind have been crowned with similar success. A society was established in London about the year 1697, to suppress vice by promoting the execution of the laws. The moral state of the city and nation at that time, and the success of their association, are thus described by a respectable historian:

“It is well known, to our shame, that profane swearing and cursing, drunkenness, and open lewdness and profanation of the Lord’s day have been committed with great impunity, and without control, without either shame, or fear of laws, so that they were seen and heard at noon day, and in the open streets. Debauchery had diffused itself through the whole body of the nation, till, at last, our morals were so corrupted, that virtue and vice had with too many changed their names. It is was reckoned breeding, to swear—gallantry, to be lewd—good humor, to be drunk—and wit, to despise serious things. In this state of things, reformation was indeed talked of as an excellent thing, but vice was looked upon as too formidable an enemy to be provoked; and public reformation was thought to be so difficult a thing, that those who gave it very good words, thought it not safe to set about it. When things were in this dismal, and almost desperate state, it came into the hearts of five or six private gentlemen to engage in this hazardous enterprise. This was such an undertaking, as might well be expected soon to alarm the enemy, and which the patrons of vice would attempt to defeat, before any progress could be made—and so it proved. The champions of debauchery put themselves in array to defend their infamous liberties, to ridicule, to defame, and to oppose this design. And others, whom in charity we could not look upon as enemies, were forward to censure these attempts as the fruit of an imprudent zeal. But notwithstanding a furious opposition from adversaries, and the unkind neutrality of friends, these gentlemen not only held their ground, but made advances into the territory of the enemy. The society, commencing with five or six, soon embraced numbers and persons of eminence in every station. In imitation of this society and for the same purpose, other societies were formed in every part of the city, and among the sober of almost every profession and occupation. Beside these, there were about thirty-nine religious societies in and about London, who, among other objects, made that of reformation a prominent one.

“The effects of these combinations were favorable beyond the most sanguine expectation. From their vigilance and promptitude the growing vices of the day were checked, insomuch, that it was soon found difficult to detect a single criminal in the streets and markets, where, a little before, horrid oaths, curses, and imprecations might be heard, day and night. Multitudes of drunkards, profaners of the Lord’s day, besides hundreds of disorderly houses, were brought to justice, and such open vices suppressed. Nor were the good effects of these associations limited to the city. They soon extended to most of the principal towns and cities of the nation, to Scotland and Ireland; so that a great part of the kingdom have been awakened in some measure to a sense of duty, and thereby a very hopeful progress is made towards a general reformation.”

Similar societies have been formed in England, at different times, ever since. In 1802, a very respectable society of the above description was established in London. It experienced, at first, most virulent opposition, but has completely surmounted every obstacle, and now commands fear, and respect, and gratitude. Such has been its influence in preventing crimes, that at one annual meeting the number of convictions reported was an hundred and seventy-eight, at the next, only seventy. As it respects the observation of the sabbath particularly, the whole city of London exhibits, to a considerable degree, a new face. A vast number of shops which used to be open on that day, are closed. The butchers of several markets have thanked the society for compelling them to an act which they find productive of so much comfort to themselves; and have even associated to secure that triumph, which the labors of the society had won.

Their useful and disinterested labors have received the commendation and thanks of the Lord Chief Justice, of more than one of the judges, and of a variety of magistrates. We desire also to bring our gift to their altar, (says the Christian Observer, from which work we have taken this account,) and to add the feeble testimony of our opinion, that this society deserves well of its country.

In this country, about the year 1760, a society was formed in the State of Maryland, to aid the civil magistrate in the execution of the laws. And so well, it is said, did the society succeed, as to induce numbers in different States to imitate their example. From that time to the present similar associations have been formed in various places, as exigencies have demanded, and with good effect, whenever their exertions have been made with prudence and decision.

We consider the fact, therefore, as now established, that reformation in a season of prevailing moral declension, is entirely practicable. And if it be so, it is a glorious fact, shedding light upon the darkness of the present day.

We are to consider

III. Some of the ways, in which this great work may be successfully attempted.

And doubtless, in the first place, the public attention must be called to this subject, and the public mind must be impressed with a proper sense of danger, and of the necessity of reformation.

From various causes,nations are prone to sleep over the dangers of moral depravation till their destruction comes upon them. A small portion only of the whole mass of crimes is seen at any one point. A few tippling shops are observed in a particular place, impoverishing families, and rearing up drunkards, but it is not considered that thousands, with like pestilential influence, are at work all over the land, training up recruits to hunt down law and order. A few instances are witnessed of needless travelling, or labor, or amusement on the sabbath, which excite a momentary alarm. But it is not considered that a vast army, probably three millions of people, are assailing at the same time this great bulwark of christian lands.

The progress of declension is also so gradual, as to attract from day to day but little notice, or excite but little alarm. Now this slow but certain approximation of the community to destruction must be made manifest. The whole army of conspirators against law and order, and the shame, and the bondage, and the woe, which they are preparing for us, must be brought out and arrayed before the public eye.

This exposition of public guilt and danger is the appropriate work of Gospel ministers. They are watchmen set upon the walls of Zion to descry and announce the approach of danger. And if, through sloth, or worldly avocations, or fear of man, they blow not the trumpet at the approach of the enemy, and the people perish, the blood of the slain will the Lord require at their hands. Civil magistrates are also ministers of God, attending continually upon this very thing. It is their exclusive work, “to see to it, that the commonwealth receives no detriment.” Indeed, every man is bound to be vigilant, and firm, and unceasing, in this great work. And by sermons, and conversation, and tracts, and newspapers, and magazines, and legislative aid, the point may be gained. The public attention may be called up to the subject, and just apprehensions of danger may be excited; and when this is done, the greatest danger is past—the work is half accomplished.

The next thing to be attempted, is the reformation of the better part of the community.

In a time of general declension, some who are comparatively virtuous, perhaps professedly pious, yield insensibly to the influence of bad example. Habits are formed, and practices are allowed, which none would, indulge in better days but the openly vicious. Each says of his own indulgence, “Is it not a little one?” But the aggregate guilt is great; and the aggregate demoralizing influence of such license in such persons, is dreadful. It annihilates the influence of their good example; tempts the inexperienced to enter, and the hardened to go on, in the downward road; and renders all efforts to save them unavailing. If we would attempt therefore^ successfully, the work of reformation, we must make the experiment first upon ourselves. We must cease to do evil, and learn to do well, that with pure hands and clear vision, we may be qualified to reclaim others. If our liberty, even in things lawful, should become a stumbling block to the weak or the wicked, it may be no superfluous benevolence to forego gratifications innocent in themselves, that we may avoid the appearance of evil, and cut off occasion of reproach from all whom our exertions may provoke to desire occasion.

The next thing demanding attention, is the religious education of the rising generation.

When the subject of reformation is proposed, multitudes turn their eyes to places of the greatest depravation, and to criminals of the most abandoned character, and because these strong holds cannot be carried, and these sons of Belial reformed, they conclude that nothing can be done. But reformation is not the work of a day, and, if the strong holds of vice cannot be stormed, there is still a silent, certain way of reformation. Immoral men do not live forever; and if good heed be taken that they draw no new recruits from our families, death will achieve for us a speedy victory. We may stand still, and see the salvation of God. Death will lay low the sons of Anak, and a generation of another spirit will occupy without resistance their fortified places.

From various causes the ancient discipline of the family has been extensively neglected. Children have neither been governed nor instructed in religion, as they were in the days of our fathers. The imported discovery that human nature is too good to be made better by discipline, . that children are enticed from the right way by religious instruction, and driven from it by the rod, and kept in thraldom [the state of being a thrall; bondage; slavery; servitude] by the conspiracy of priests and legislators, has united not a few in the noble experiment of emancipating the world by the help of an irreligious, ungoverned progeny. The indolent have rejoiced in the discovery that our fathers were fools and bigots, and have cheerfully let loose their children to help on the glorious work, while thousands of families, having heard from their teachers, or believing in spite of them, that morality will suffice both for earth and heaven, and not doubting that morality will nourish without religion, have either not reared the family altar, or have put out the sacred fire, and laid aside together the rod and the Bible as superfluous auxiliaries in the education of children. From the school too, with pious regard for its sacred honors, the Bible has been withdrawn, lest, by a too familiar knowledge of its contents, children should learn to despise it; as if ignorance were the mother of devotion, and the efficacy of laws depended upon their not being understood. With similar benign wisdom has not only the rod, but government, and catechetical instruction, and a regard to the moral conduct of children been exiled from the school. These sagacious counsels emerging from beneath, were heedlessly adopted by many as the wisdom from above, until their result began to disclose their different origin. For it came to pass in many places, that the school, instead of a nursery of piety, became often a place of temptation, where children, forgetting the scanty instruction of the family, learned insubordination by indulgence and impiety, and immorality, by the example of those who were permitted to sin with impunity. The consequence has been, that on all sides our ancient institutions are assailed, and our venerable habits and usages are passing away.

To retrieve these mischiefs of negligence and folly, a general effort must be made to restore our ancient system of education. There must be concert, new zeal, and special exertion; and let no man predict that the holy enterprise cannot succeed. Because we have listened to the siren song of vain philosophy, and floated listlessly down the stream till the precipice appears, shall we despair to row back when danger inspires courage, and calls aloud for a common effort?

Our fathers were not fools; they were as far from it as modern philosophers are from wisdom. Their fundamental maxim was, that man is desperately wicked, and cannot be qualified for good membership in society, without the influence of moral restraint. With great diligence therefore, they availed themselves of the laws and institutions of revelation, as embodying the most correct instruction and the most powerful moral restraint. The word of God was daily read, and his worship celebrated in the family and in the school, and children were trained up under the eye ol Jehovah. In this great work, pastors and churches and magistrates co-operated. And what moral restraint could not accomplish, was secured by parental authority and the coercion of the law. The success of these efforts corresponded with the wisdom of the system adopted, and the fidelity with which it was reduced to practice. Our fathers established and, for a great while preserved the most perfect state of society, probably, that has ever existed in this fallen world.

The same causes will still produce the same effects, and no other causes will produce them. New England can only retain her pre-eminence, by upholding those institutions and habits which produced it. Divested of these, like Samson shorn of his locks, she will become as weak and as contemptible as any other land. But let the family and the school be organized and ordered according to the ancient pattern; let parents, and schoolmasters, and pastors, and churches, and magistrates, do their duty, and all will be well. The crown of glory will return, and the most fine gold will shine again in all its ancient luster.

But we must here state more particularly, the indispensable necessity of executing promptly the laws-against immorality.

Much may be done in the way of prevention; but, in a free government, moral suasion and coercion must be united. If children be not religiously educated, and accustomed in early life to subordination, the laws will fail in the unequal contest of subduing tigers to their yoke. But if the influence of education and habit be not confirmed and guarded by the supervening influence of law, this salutary restraint will be swept away by the overpowering force of human depravity. To retrieve therefore our declension, it is indispensable, not only that new fidelity pervade the family, the school, and the church of God, but that the laws against immorality be restored to their ancient vigor. Laws unexecuted are worse than nothing; mere phantoms, which excite increased audacity, when the vain fears subside which they have inspired. If the stream must have its course, it is better not to oppose obstructions which will only increase its fury, and extend the desolation when they are swept away.

But in a season of great moral declension, how shall we raise from the dust neglected laws, and give to them life and vigor? The multiplication of new prohibitions and penalties will not avail, for the evil to be redressed is the non-execution of laws already competent, if executed, to our protection., Shall the government itself stand forth the watchful guardian of its own laws? Too often it may lack the inclination, and it will always be too much occupied by other concerns, to exercise the minute agency that is requisite.

Shall the work then be delegated to a subordinate magistracy? The neglect of official duty is the very evil for which we now seek a remedy. Shall individuals then, volunteer their assistance? It is possible, that they may sometimes experience a rebuke from the magistrate to whose aid they come. The workers of iniquity also, will conspire constantly to hunt them down; while thousands of prudent well wishers to the public morals will look on and see them sacrificed, pitying their rashness, and blessing themselves, that they were wise enough to stand aloof from enterprises of so much danger.

Direct evils compel men to execute the law, while crimes full of deadly consequences are suffered to prevail with impunity. With relentless zeal the sword pursues the fugitive thief and murderer, and no city of refuge affords them a sanctuary; while thousands devote themselves to the work of training up thieves and murderers, and in open day cut the moral ties which bind them, and let them loose upon society. And yet the sword sleeps; and judgment is turned away backward; and justice standeth afar off; while truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

To secure then, the execution of the laws against immorality in a time of prevailing moral declension, an influence is needed distinct from that of the government, independent of popular suffrage, superior in potency to individual efforts, and competent to enlist and preserve the public opinion on the side of law and order.

This most desirable influence as we have before observed, has been found in local voluntary associations of the wise and the good, to aid the civil magistrate in the execution of the laws. These associations are eminently adapted to answer their intended purpose. They awaken the public attention, and by the sermons, the reports, and the conversation they occasion, diffuse much moral instruction; they combine the wisdom and influence of all who desire to prevent crimes, and uphold peace and good order in society; they have great influence to form correctly the public opinion, and to render the violation of the law disgraceful, as well as dangerous; they teach the virtuous part of the community their strength, and accustom them to act, as well as to wish and to pray; they constitute a sort of disciplined moral militia, prepared to act upon every emergency, and repel every encroachment upon the liberties and morals of the State. By their numbers, they embolden the timid, and intimidate the enemy; and in every conflict, the responsibility being divided among many, is not feared. By this auxiliary band the hands of the magistrate are strengthened, the laws are rescued from contempt, the land is purified, the anger of the Lord is turned away, and his blessing and protection restored.

If, beside these local associations, a more extended concert of wise and good men could be formed, to devise ways and means of suppressing vice and guarding the public morals, to collect facts and extend information, and, in a thousand nameless ways, to exert a salutary general influence, it would seem to complete a system of exertion, which, we might hope, would retrieve what we have lost, and perpetuate forever civil and religious institutions. Associations of this general nature for the promotion of the arts and sciences, have exerted a powerful influence with great success; and no reason, it is presumed, can be given, why the cause of morals may not be equally benefitted by similar associations.

Finally; To counteract the prevalent declension, and raise the standard of public morals, it is peculiarly necessary to preserve indissoluble the connection between sin and shame.

A sense of shame will deter multitudes from the commission of crimes, whom conscience alone would not deter. Happily, in New England, immorality of every description has from the beginning been associated with disgrace. But the prevalence of wickedness in high places, and the growing frequency of crimes have at length paralyzed the public sensibility, and lightened the tax of shame. Hence, criminals whom our fathers would have abhorred, have been first “endured, then pitied, then embraced.” This compromise with crimes if persisted in, will undo us. Let the profligate be received with complacency into virtuous society, and enjoy without impediment the suffrage of the community, and the public conscience will be seared as with a hot iron; the distinctions between right and wrong will disappear; the wicked, openmouthed, will walk on every side, and tread down with impunity the remnants of law and order. If we would reform the land we must return therefore to the stern virtue of our ancestors, and lay the whole tax of shame upon the dissolute and immoral.

Let this circumspection concerning moral character attend us in the selection of schoolmasters to instruct our children; of subordinate magistrates to manage the concerns of the town, and to execute the laws of the State; and in selecting the members of our State and National Legislatures; and we shall soon experience the good effects of our caution. But disregard this single consideration, and clothe with power irreligious and immoral men, and we cannot stop the prevalence of crimes. From the bad eminence to which we exalt the wicked, the flood of iniquity will roll down upon us, and the judgments of God will follow and sweep us away.

IV. We are to consider some of the motives which should animate the wise and the good to make immediate and vigorous exertion for the reformation of morals, and the preservation of our laws and institutions.

And certainly, the importance of the interest in jeopardy demands our first and most serious regard.

If we consider only the temporal prosperity of the nation, the interest is the most important earthly interest that ever called forth the enterprise of man. No other portion of the human race ever commenced a national existence as we – commenced ours. Our very beginning was civilized, learned, and pious. The sagacious eye of our ancestors looked far down the vale of time. Their benevolence laid foundations, and reared superstructures, for the accommodation of distant generations. Through peril, and tears, and blood, they procured the inheritance, which, with many prayers, they bequeathed unto us. It has descended in an unbroken line. It is now in our possession impaired indeed by our folly, perverted and abused, but still the richest inheritance which the mercy of God continues to the troubled earth. Nowhere beside, if you search the world over, will you find so much real liberty; so much equality; so much personal safety, and temporal prosperity; so general an extension of useful knowledge; so much religious instruction; so much moral restraint; and so much divine mercy, to make these blessings the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation. Shall we throw away this precious bequest? Shall we surrender our laws and liberties, our religion and morals, our social and domestic blessings, to the first invader? Shall we despair and die of fear, without an effort to avert our doom? What folly! What infatuation! What madness to do so! With what indignation, could indignation be in heaven, would our fathers look down upon the deed? With what lamentation, could tears be in heaven, would they weep over it? With what loud voices, could they speak to us from heaven, would they beseech their degenerate children to put their trust in God, and contend earnestly for those precious institutions and laws for which they toiled and bled.

2. If we do not awake and engage vigorously in the work of reformation, it will soon be too late.

Though reformation be always practicable if a people are disposed to reform, there is a point of degradation from which neither individuals nor nations are disposed to arise, and from which the Most High is seldom disposed to raise them. When irreligion and vice shall have contaminated the mass of the people, when the majority, emancipated from civil and moral restraint shall be disposed to set aside the laws and institutions and habits of their fathers, then indeed it may be feared that our transgressions and our sins will be upon us, and that we shall pine away and die in them. The means of preservation passing into other hands, will become tiie means of destruction. Talents, and official influence, and the power of legislation, and all the resources of the State may be perverted to demolish our institutions, laws and usages, until every vestige of ancient wisdom and prosperity is gone.

To this state of things we are hastening, and, if no effort be made to stop our progress, the sun in his course is not more resistless than our doom. Our vices are digging the grave of our liberties, and preparing to entomb our glory. We may sleep, but the work goes on. We may despise admonition, but our destruction slumbereth not. Travelling, and worldly labor, and visiting, and amusement on the sabbath, will neither produce nor preserve such a state of society, as the conscientious observance of the sabbath has helped to produce and preserve; the enormous consumption of ardent spirits in our land will produce neither bodies nor minds like those which were the offspring of temperance and virtue. The neglect of family government, and family prayer, and the religious education of children, will not produce such freemen as were formed by early habits of subordination, and the constant influence of the fear of God; the neglect of official duty in magistrates to execute the laws, will not produce the same effects, which were produced by the vigilance and fidelity of our fathers, to restrain and punish crimes.

Our institutions, civil and religious, have out-lived that domestic discipline and official vigilance in magistrates to execute the laws which rendered obedience easy and habitual. The laws now are beginning to operate extensively upon necks unaccustomed to the yoke, and when they shall become irksome to the majority, their execution will become impracticable. To this situation we are already reduced in some districts of the land. Drunkards reel through the streets, day after day, and year after year, with entire impunity. Profane swearing is heard, and even by magistrates, as though they heard it not. Efforts to stop travelling on the sabbath, have in all places become feeble, and in many places, they have wholly ceased. Informing officers complain that magistrates will not regard their informations, and that the public sentiment will not bear them out in executing the laws; and conscientious men who dare not violate an oath, have begun to refuse the office. The only proper characters to sustain it, the only men who can retrieve our declining state, are driven into the back ground, and their places filled with men of easy conscience, who will either do nothing, or by their own example help on the ruin. The public conscience is becoming callous by the frequency and impunity of crimes. The sin of violating the sabbath is becoming in the public estimation a little sin, and the shame of it, nothing. The disgrace is divided among so many, that none regard it. The sabbath is trodden down by a host of men, whom shame alone, in better days, would have deterred entirely from this sin. In the mean time, many, who lament these evils are augmenting them by predicting that all is lost, encouraging the enemy, and weakening the hands of the wise and good. But truly, we do stand on the confines of destruction. The mass is changing. We are becoming another people. Our habits have held us, long after those moral causes which formed them have in a great degree ceased to operate. These habits, at length, are giving way. So many hands have so long been employed to pull away foundations, and so few to repair the breaches, that the building totters. So much enterprise has been displayed in removing obstructions from the current of human depravity, and so little to restore them, that the stream at length is beginning to run. It may be stopped now, but it will soon become deep, and broad, and rapid, and irresistible.

The crisis then has come. By the people of this generation, by ourselves probably, the amazing question is to be decided, whether the inheritance of our fathers shall be preserved, or thrown away—whether our sabbaths shall be a delight, or a loathing—whether the taverns on that holy day, shall be crowded with drunkards, or the sanctuary of God with humble worshippers—whether riot and profanity shall fill our streets, and poverty our dwellings, and convicts our jails, and violence our land; or whether industry, and temperance, and righteousness, shall be the stability of our times— whether mild laws shall receive the cheerful submission of freemen, or the iron rod of a tyrant compel the trembling homage of slaves. Be not deceived. Human nature in this nation is like human nature everywhere. All actual difference in our favor is adventitious, and the result of our laws, institutions, and habits. It is a moral influence which, with the blessing of God, has formed a state of society so eminently desirable. The same influence which has formed it, is indispensable to its preservation. The rocks and hills of New England will remain till the last conflagration; but, let the sabbath be profaned with impunity, the worship of God be abandoned, the government and religious instruction of children be neglected, and the streams of intemperance be permitted to flow, and her glory will depart. The wall of fire will no more surround her, and the munition of rocks will no longer be her defense. But,

3. If we do neglect our duty, and suffer our laws and institutions to go down, we give them up forever. It is easy to relax, easy to retreat, but impossible, when the abomination of desolation has once passed over, to rear again the prostrate altars, and gather again the fragments, and build up the ruins of demolished institutions. Neither we nor our children shall ever see another New England, if this be destroyed. All is lost irretrievably when the landmarks are once removed, and the bands which now hold us are once broken. Such institutions, and such a state of society, can be established only by such men as our fathers were, and in such circumstances as they were. They could not have made a New England in Holland. They made the attempt but failed. Nowhere could they have succeeded, but in a wilderness; where they gave the precepts, and set the example, and made, and executed the laws. By vigilance, and prayer, and exertion, we may defend these institutions, retrieve much of what we have lost, and perpetuate a better state of society than can elsewhere be made by the art of man. But, let the enemy come in like a flood, and overturn, and overturn, and no place will be found for repentance, though it be sought carefully with tears.

4. If we give up our laws and institutions, our guilt and misery will be very great.

We shall become slaves, and slaves to the worst of masters. The profane and the profligate, men of corrupt minds, and to every good work reprobate, will be exalted to pollute us by their example, to distract us by their folly, and impoverish us by fraud and rapine. Let loose from wholesome restraint, and taught to sin by the example of the great, a scene most horrid to be conceived, but more dreadful to be experienced, will ensue. No people are more fitted to destruction, if they go to destruction, than we ourselves. All the daring enterprise of our countrymen emancipated from moral restraint, will become the desperate daring of unrestrained sin. Should we break the bands of Christ, and cast his cords from us, and begin the work of self-destruction, it will be urged on with a malignant enterprise which has no parallel in the annals of time; and be attended with miseries, such as the sun has never looked upon.

The hand that overturns our laws and altars is the hand of death unbarring the gate of Pandemonium, and letting loose upon our land the crimes and the miseries of hell. Even if the Most High should stand aloof, and cast not a single ingredient into our cup of trembling, it would seem to be full of superlative woe. But he will not stand aloof. As we shall have begun an open controversy with him, he will contend openly with us; and never, since the earth stood, has it been so fearful a thing for nations to fall into the hands of the living God. The day of vengeance is in his heart— the day of judgment has come—the great earthquake which is to sink Babylon is shaking the nations, and the waves of the mighty commotion are dashing upon every shore. Is this, then, a time to remove foundations, when the earth itself is shaken? Is this a time to forfeit the protection of God, when the hearts of men are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth? Is this a time to run upon his neck, and the thick bosses of his buckler, when the nations are drinking blood, and fainting, and passing away in his wrath? Is this a time to throw away the shield of faith, when his arrows are drunk with the blood of the slain; to cut from the anchor of hope, when the clouds are collecting, and the sea and the waves are roaring, and thunders are uttering their voices, and lightning’s blazing in the heavens, and the great hail is falling from heaven upon men, and every mountain, sea, and island is fleeing in dismay from the face of an incensed God?

5. The judgments of God which we feel, and those which impend, call for immediate repentance and reformation. Our country has never seen such a day as this.[1812] By our sins we are fitted to destruction. God has begun in earnest, his work, his strange work, of national desolation. For many years the ordinary gains of industry have, to a great extent, been cut off. The counsels of the nation have by one part of it been deemed infatuation, and by the other part oracular wisdom; while the action and reaction of parties have shaken our institutions to their foundations, debased our morals, and awakened animosities which expose us to dismemberment and all the horrors of civil war. But for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. On our seaboard, are the alarms and the plagues of war. On our frontiers is heard the trumpet of alarm mingling with the war-whoop of the savage, and the cries and dying groans of murdered families. In the south, a volcano whose raging fires and murmuring thunders have long been suppressed, is now with loud admonition threatening an eruption. In the midst of these calamities the angel of God has received commission to unsheath his sword, and extend far and wide the work of death. The little child and the blooming youth, the husband and the wife, men of talents and usefulness, the ministers of the sanctuary and the members of the church of God, bow before the stroke, and sink to the grave. That dreadful tempest, the sound of which, till late, was heard only from afar as it was borne across the Atlantic, has at length begun to beat upon us, and those mighty burnings, the smoke of which we have hitherto beheld from afar, have begun in our nation their devouring course. Nothing can avert the tempest, and nothing can extinguish our burning, but repentance and reformation; for it is the tempest of the wrath of God, and the fire of his indignation.

6. Our advantages to achieve a reformation of morals are great, and will render our guilt and punishment proportionally aggravated, if we neglect to avail ourselves of them.

We are not yet undone. The harvest is not past; the summer is not ended. There is yet remaining much health and strength, in many parts of our land. This State especially, is by its laws thoroughly furnished to every good-.work. Let our laws be executed, and we may live for ever. Nor is their execution to be despaired of. In every town in the State the majority of the population are decidedly opposed, it is believed, to those immoral practices which our laws condemn. And in most towns, and societies, it is a small minority who corrupt with impunity the public morals. Let the friends of virtue, then, express their opinions, and unite their influence, and the laws can be executed. Crimes will become disgraceful, and the non-execution of the laws more hazardous to popularity than their faithful execution. The friends of good morals and good government, have it yet in their power to create a public opinion which nothing can resist.(1) The wicked are bold in appearance but they are cowards at heart; their threats and boasting are loud, but they are “vox et preterea nihil.” [“Mere noise and nothing else.”] God is against them— their own consciences are against them—the laws are against them—and let only the public opinion be arrayed against them, and five shall chase a thousand, and an hundred shall put ten thousand to flight.

It is not as if we were called upon to make new laws, and establish usages unknown before. We make no innovation. We embark in no novel experiment. We set up no new standard of morals. We encroach upon no man’s liberty. We lord it over no man’s conscience. We stand upon the defensive merely. We contend for our altars and our firesides. We rally around the standard which our fathers reared, and our motto is, ‘The Inheritance Which They BEQUEATHED, NO MAN SHALL TAKE FROM US.’ The executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the government are in the hands of men, who, w:e doubt not, will lend to the work of reformation their example, their prayers, their weight of character, official influence, and their active cooperation. And will not the clergy, and christian churches of all denominations array themselves on the side of good morals and the laws? Will they not like a band of brothers, and terrible to the wicked as an army with banners, contend earnestly for the precepts of the Gospel ?’ If with such means of self preservation, we pine away and die in our sins, we shall deserve to die; and our death will be dreadful.

7. But, were our advantages fewer than they are, the Lord will be on our side and will bless us, if we repent and endeavor to do our duty.

He commands us to repent and reform, and what he commands his people to do, he will help them to accomplish if they make the attempt. He has promised to help them.

He always has given efficacy, more or less, to the faithful exertions of men to do good. At the present time, in a peculiar manner does he smile upon every essay to do good. Not a finger is lifted in vain in any righteous cause, the result of every enterprise surpasses expectation, the grain of mustard becomes a tree, the little leaven, leavens the lump. The voice of providence now is, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, for this and that shall both prosper.” The God in whose help we confide is also our fathers’ God, who remembers mercy to the thousandth generation of them that fear him, and keep his commandments. Within the broad circumference of this covenant we stand, and neither few nor obscure are the indications of his mercy in the midst of wrath.

8. The work of reformation is already, it may be hoped, auspiciously begun.

Though in some things there is a fearful declension of morals, which, if not arrested, will inevitably destroy us; yet, it ought to be gratefully acknowledged, that, in some respects, our moral state has for a considerable period been growing better. The progress of civilization and religion has softened the manners of the people, and banished to a great extent, that violence of passion which ended in broils and lawsuits. Those indecencies also, which too often polluted the intercourse of the sexes, and warred upon the best interests of society, have, to a great extent, given place to habits of refinement and virtue. Though at this time there be heresies, that they which are approved may be manifest; there has never been in this State, perhaps never in the nation, a more extensive prevalence of evangelical doctrine. Great efforts have been made also, and with signal success, to raise up a learned and pious ministry for the churches, from which, in time, a great reforming influence may be expected: for the morals of a nation will ever hold a close alliance with the talents and learning, the piety and orthodoxy, of its clergy. The number of pious persons has, in the course of fifteen years, been greatly increased, and has been attended with a more than correspondent increase of prayer. Those local weekly associations for prayer which are now spread over our land, are, most of them, of comparatively recent origin.

In perfect accordance with this increased spirit of prayer, has been the effusion of the Holy Spirit in the revival of religion. These revivals have been numerous, great, and glorious; and, blessed be God, they still prevail. Their reforming influence has been salutary beyond expression. Wherever they have existed, they have raised up the foundations of many generations. They have done more than all other -causes to arrest our general decline, and are this moment turning back the captivity of our land. The churches under their renovating influence, are beginning to maintain a more efficient discipline, and to superintend with more fidelity the religious education of their baptized children. The principles of infidel philosophy with respect to civil government, and the government and religious education of children, have it is hoped had their day, and are retiring to their own place, succeeded happily, by the maxims of revelation and common sense.

The missionary spirit which is beginning to pervade our land, promises also, an auspicious reforming influence. It teaches us to appreciate more justly our own religious privileges, and calls off the hearts of thousands from political and sectarian bickerings, to unite them in one glorious enterprise of love. Who, but the Lord our God, has created that extensive and simultaneous predisposition in the public mind, to favor a work of reformation? Who, in this day of clouds and tempest, has opened the eyes of the people to recognize their dependence upon God, and his avenging hand in the judgments which they feel, and turned their hearts to seek him to an unusual extent, by fasting, and humiliation, and prayer? Who, indeed, has poured out upon our land, a spirit of reformation as real, if not yet as universal, as the spirit of missions? The fact is manifest from the zeal of individuals, the reviving fidelity of magistrates in various places, the addresses of ecclesiastical bodies, and the formation of general and local associations to suppress crimes, and support the laws and institutions of our land.(2)

The Most High, then, has begun to help us. While his judgments are abroad, the nation is beginning to learn righteousness. These favorable circumstances do by no means supersede the necessity of special exertion; but they are joyful pledges that our labor shall not be in vain in the Lord. They are his providential voice, announcing that he is waiting to be gracious; and that, if we “hearken to him, he will soon subdue our enemies, and turn his hand against our adversaries; that the haters of the Lord shall submit themselves unto him, but that our time shall endure forever.” Therefore,

9. If we endure a little longer, the resources of the millennial day will come to our aid.

Many are the prophetic signs which declare the rapid approach of that day. Babylon the great is fallen. The false Prophet is hastening to perdition. That wicked one hath appeared, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and the brightness of his coming. The day of his vengeance is wasting the earth. The last vial of the wrath of God is running. The angel having the everlasting Gospel to preach to men, has begun his flight; and, with trumpet sounding long, and waxing loud, is calling to the nations to look unto Jesus and be saved. Soon will the responsive song be heard from every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, as the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying; hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

On the confines of such a day, shall we despair? While its blessed light is beginning to shine, shall we give up our laws and institutions, and sink down to the darkness and torments of the bottomless pit?

10. But considerations, before which the kingdoms of this, world fade and are forgotten, call us to instant exertion in the work of reformation.

Every one of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Every one of us, as a friend, or an enemy, shall live under his government forever. We shall drink of the river of pleasure, or of the cup of trembling. We shall sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, or lift up our cries with the smoke of our torment. The institutions in danger, are the institutions of heaven, provided to aid us in fleeing from the wrath to come. The laws to be preserved, are laws which have lent their congenial influence to the immortal work of saving sinners. The welfare of millions through eternity, depends, under God, upon their preservation.

Ye parents—which of your children can you give up to the miseries of a profligate life, and the pangs of an impenitent death? Which, undone by your example, or negligence and folly, are you prepared to meet on the left hand of your Judge? Which, if by a miracle of mercy you should ascend to heaven, can you leave behind, to go away into everlasting punishment? Call around you the dear children whom God has given you, and look them o’er and o’er, and, if among them all you cannot find a victim to sacrifice, awake, and with all diligence uphold those institutions which the good shepherd has provided to protect and save them.

My fathers and brethren, who minister at the altar—the time is short. We mast soon meet our people at the bar of God; should we meet any of them undone by our example, or sloth, or unbelief, dreadful will be the interview! Shall we not lift up our voice as a trumpet, and do quickly, and with all our might, what our hands find to do?

Ye magistrates of a christian land, ye ministers of God for good—the people of this land, alarmed by the prevalence of crimes and by the judgments of God, look up to you for protection. By the glories and terrors of the judgment day, by the joys of heaven and the miseries of hell they beseech you, as the ministers of God, to save them and their children from the dangers of this untoward generation.

Ye men of wealth and influence—will ye not help in this great attempt to reform and save our land? Are not these distinctions, talents, for the employment of which you must give an account to God; and can you employ them better, than to consecrate them to the service of your generation by the will of God?

Let me entreat those unhappy men who haste to be rich by unlawful means, who thrive by the vices and ruin of their fellow men, to consider their end. How dreadful to you will be the day of death! How intolerable, the day of judgment! How many broken hearted widows, and fatherless children, will then lift up their voices to testify against you. How many of the lost spirits will ascend from the world of woe, to cry out against you, as the wretches who ministered to their lusts, and fitted them for destruction. In vain will you plead that if you had not done the murderous deed, other men would have done it; or that, if you had not destroyed them, they had still destroyed themselves. If other men had done the deed, they, and not you, would answer for it; if they had destroyed themselves without your agency, their blood would be upon their own heads. But as you contributed voluntarily to their destruction, you will be beholden as partakers in their sin, and their blood will be required at your hands. Why, then, will you” traffic in the souls and bodies of men, and barter away your souls for the gains of a momentary life?

To conclude; Let me entreat the unhappy men who are the special objects of legal restraint, to cease from their evil ways, and, by voluntary reformation, supersede the necessity of coercion and punishment. Why will you die? What fearful thing is there in heaven, which makes you flee from that world? What fascinating object in hell, that excites such frenzied exertion to burst every band, and overleap every mound, and force your way downward to the chambers of death? Stop, I beseech you, and repent, and Jesus Christ shall blot out your sins, and remember your transgressions no more. Stop, and the host who follow your steps shall turn, and take hold on the path of life. Stop, and the wide waste of sin shall cease, and the song of angels shall be heard again; “Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will to men.” Stop, and instead of wailing with the lost, you shall join the multitudes which no man can number, in the ascription of blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.

Footnotes:

(1) The writer has lived to see that a new moral power must be applied by sabbath schools, revivals of religion, and bible, tract, and missionary societies, before immoralities in a popular government can be suppressed by law.

(2) A society was formed in Boston, on the 5tb of February, 1813, entitled “The Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance.” The object of the society is stated to be, ” to discountenance and suppress the too frequent use of ardent spirits, and its kindred vices, profaneness, and gaming; and to encourage and promote temperance, and general morality. With a view to this object, the society will recommend the institution of auxiliary societies in different parts of the commonwealth; and hold correspondence with other societies which may be instituted for the same general object.

“Besides the usual officers of a society, there is a board of counsel consisting of eight persons, which is to act as the executive of the society, to make communications to the auxiliary societies, and to receive communications from them; to collect, combine, and digest facts, and general information, relating to the purposes of the society; to devise ways and means for the furtherance of these purposes; to apply the society’s funds according to direction; and, at each annual meeting, to report to the society their doings, a digest of the facts, and general information which they may have collected, and such measures as they may judge suitable for the society to adopt and pursue. They shall hold stated quarterly meetings.” —Panoptic for February, 1813. pp. 418, 419, 42

National Recollections the Foundation of National Character by Edward Everett

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National Recollections the Foundation of National Character by Edward Everett (1794 – 1865) was an American politician, pastor, educator, diplomat, and orator from Massachusetts.

How is the spirit of a free people to be formed, and animated, and cheered, but out of the store-house of its historic recollections? Are we to be eternally ringing the changes upon Marathon and Thermopylae; and going back to read in obscure texts of Greek and Latin of the exemplars of patriotic virtue? I thank God that we can find them nearer home, in our own country, on our own soil; — that strains of the noblest sentiment that ever swelled in the breast of man, are breathing to us out of every page of our country’s history, in the native eloquence of our mother tongue;—that the colonial and provincial councils of America exhibit to us models of the spirit and character, which gave Greece and Rome their name and their praise among the nations. Here we ought to go for our instruction;—the lesson is plain, it is clear, it is applicable. When we go to ancient history, we are bewildered with the difference of manners and institutions. We are willing to pay our tribute of applause to the memory of Leonidas, who fell nobly for his country in the face of his foe. But when we trace him to his home, we are confounded at the reflection, that the same Spartan heroism, to which he sacrificed himself at Thermopylae, would have led him to tear his own child, if it had happened to be a sickly babe,-—the very object for which all that is kind and good in man rises up to plead,—from the bosom of its mother, and carry it out to be eaten by the wolves of Taygetus. We feel a glow of admiration at the heroism displayed at Marathon, by the ten thousand champions of invaded Greece; but we cannot forget that the tenth part of the number were slaves, unchained from the work-shops and door-posts of their masters, to go and fight the battles of freedom. I do not mean that these examples are to destroy the interest with which we read the history of ancient times; they possibly increase that interest by the very contrasts they exhibit. But they do warn us, if we need the warning, to seek our great practical lessons of patriotism at home; out of the exploits and sacrifices of which our own country is the theatre; out of the characters of our own fathers. Them we know,—the high-souled, natural, unaffected, the citizen heroes. We know what happy firesides they left for the cheerless camp. We know with what pacific habits they dared the perils of the field. There is no mystery, no romance, no madness, under the name of chivalry, about them. It is all resolute, manly resistance for conscience’ and liberty’s sake, not merely of an overwhelming power, but of all the force of long-rooted habits and native love of order and peace.

Above all, their blood calls to us from the soil which we tread; it beats in our veins; it cries to us not merely in the thrilling words of one of the first victims in this cause,— “My sons, scorn to be slaves!”—but it cries with a still more moving eloquence—” My sons, forget not your father’s.”

Of Rebellion: Observations on the Boston Port-Bill by John Q. Adams 1774

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Of Rebellion; Resistance to Oppression:

To complain of the enormities of power, to expostulate with over-grown oppressors, hath in all ages been denominated sedition and faction; and to turn upon tyrants, treason and rebellion. But tyrants are rebels against the first laws of Heaven and society: to oppose their ravages is an instinct of nature, the inspiration of God in the heart of man. In the noble resistance which mankind make to exorbitant ambition and power, they always feel that divine afflatus which, paramount to everything human, causes them to consider the Lord of Hosts as their leader, and his angels as fellow soldiers. Trumpets are to them joyful sounds, and the ensigns of war the banners of God. Their wounds are bound up in the oil of a good cause; sudden death is to them present martyrdom, and funeral obsequies resurrections to eternal honour and glory, — their widows and babes being received into the arms of a compassionate God, and their names enrolled among David’s worthies: greatest losses are to them greatest gains; for they leave the troubles of their warfare to lie down on beds of eternal rest and felicity.

There are other parts of the Act now before us which merit notice, particularly that relative to the prosecution of suits in the ordinary courts of law, ” for anything done in pursuance of the Act;” by which the defendant is enabled ” to plead the general issue, and give the Act, and the general matter, in evidence;” whereupon it follows that, “if it shall appear so to have been done, the jury shall find for the defendant,” who, by an after clause, is to ” recover treble costs.” From this passage some have been led to conclude that the appearance of this matter was to be to the judge; and that if it had that appearance to him, and he should direct the jury accordingly, however it might appear to the jury, they must follow the directions of the judge, and acquit the defendant. But this is a construction which, as the words do not necessarily carry that meaning, I will not permit myself to suppose the design of the law. However, the late donations of large salaries by the crown to the justices of our superior courts, who are nominated by the Governor, and hold their commission durante beneplacito, have not a little contributed to the preceding apprehension.

Another passage makes provision for “assigning and appointing such and so many open places, quays, and wharfs, within the said harbour, creeks, havens, and islands, for the landing, discharging, lading, and shipping of goods, as His Majesty, his heirs, or successors, shall judge necessary and expedient;” and also for “appointing such and so many officers of the customs therein as His Majesty shall think fit; after which, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to lade or put off from, or to discharge and land upon, such wharfs, quays, and places, so appointed within the said harbour, and none other, any goods, wares, and merchandise whatsoever.” By which the property of many private individuals is to be rendered useless, and worse than useless, as the possession of a thing aggravates the misfortune of those who are deprived of a capacity to enjoy. But if the property of some few is to be rendered nothing worth, so that of many others is to be openly invaded. But why should we dwell upon private wrongs, while those of the multitude call for all our attention?

If any should now say, we are a commercial people, commercial plans can only save us; if any think that the ideas of the merchant are at this day to give spring to our nerves and vigour to our actions; if any say that empire in this age of the world is only founded in commerce, let him show me the people emancipated from oppression by commercial principles and measures. let him point me that unexplored land where trade and slavery flourish together, Till then, I must hold a different creed; and believe that though commercial views may not be altogether unprofitable, that though commercial plans may do much, they never can do all. With regard, then, to how much the merchant, the artificer, the citizen, and the husbandman may do, let us no longer differ. But let everyone apply his strength and abilities to that mighty burden which, unless removed, must crush us all. Americans have one common interest to unite them: that interest must cement them. Natural allies, they have published to the world professions of reciprocal esteem and confidence, aid and assistance; they have pledged their faith of mutual friendship and alliance. Not only common danger, bondage, and disgrace, but national truth and honour, conspire to make the colonists resolve to — stand or fall together.

Americans never were destitute of discernment; they have never been grossly deficient in virtue. A small share of sagacity is now needful to discover the insidious art of our enemies; the smallest spark of virtue will on this occasion kindle into flame.

Will the little temporary advantage held forth for delusion seduce them from their duty? Will they not evidence at this time how much they despise the commercial bribe of a British ministry; and testify to the world that they do not vail to the most glorious of the ancients, in love of freedom and sternness of virtue? But as to the inhabitants of this Province, how great are the number, how weighty the considerations to actuate their conduct? Not a town in this colony but have breathed the warmest declarations of attachment to their rights, union in their defence, and perseverance to the end. Should any one maritime town (for more than one I will not believe there can be), allured by the expectations of gain, refuse to lend their aid; entertaining the base idea of building themselves upon the ruins of this metropolis, and, in the chain of future events, on the destruction of all America, — what shall we say? — hours of bitter reflection will come, when their own feelings shall excite consideration; when remembrance of the past, and expectation of the future, shall fill up the measure of their sorrow and anguish. But I turn from the idea, which blasts my country with infamy, my species with disgrace.

The intelligent reader must have noticed that, through the whole of the Act of Parliament, there is no suggestion that the East India Company had made any demand for damage done to their property: if the company supposed they had received injury, it doth not appear whom they consider as guilty, and much less that they had alleged any charge against the town of Boston. But I presume that if that company were entitled to receive a recompense from the town, until they prosecuted their demand they are supposed to waive it. And we cannot but imagine that this is the first instance where Parliament hath ordered one subject to pay a satisfaction to another, when the party aggrieved did not appear to make his regular claim; and much more uncommon is it for such recompense to be ordered without ascertaining the amount to which the satisfaction shall extend.

But if the East India Company were now made easy, and Boston reduced to perfect silence and humiliation, how many “others” are there who would suggest that they ” suffered by the riots and insurrections abovementioned,” and demand “reasonable satisfaction” therefore. The singular texture, uncertainty, looseness, and ambiguity of this phrase in the statute seems so calculated for dispute, such an eternal bar to a full compliance with the requisitions of the Act, and of course to render permanent its evils, that I cannot speak upon the subject without trespassing upon those bounds of respect and decency, within the circle of which I have endeavoured to move.

Here, waiving further particular consideration of that subject which gave origin to this performance, I shall proceed to an equally interesting subject, — that of standing armies and civil society.

The faculty of intelligence may be considered as the first gift of God: its due exercise is the happiness and honour of man; its abuse, his calamity and disgrace. The most trifling duty is not properly discharged without the exertion of this noble faculty; yet how often does it lie dormant, while the highest concernments are in issue? Believe me, my countrymen, the labor of examining for ourselves, or great imposition must be submitted to; there is no other alternative: and, unless we weigh and consider what we examine, little benefit will result from research. We are at this extraordinary crisis called to view the most melancholy events of our day: the scene is unpleasant to the eye, but its contemplation will be useful, if our thoughts terminate with judgment, resolution, and spirit, worst and most unprofitable of the species. Against this exertion, and the principle which originates it. no vigilance can be too sharp, no determination too severe.

If at this period of public affairs, we do not think, deliberate, and determine like men, — men of minds to conceive, hearts to feel, and virtue to act, — what are we to do? — to gaze upon our bondage? While our enemies throw about firebrands, arrows, and death, and play their tricks of desperation with the gambols of sport and wantonness.

The proper object of society and civil institutions is the advancement of “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” The people (as a body, being never interested to injure themselves, and uniformly desirous of the general welfare) have ever made this collective felicity the object of their wishes and pursuit. But, strange as it may seem, what the many through successive ages have desired and sought, the few have found means to baffle and defeat. The necessity of the acquisition hath been conspicuous to the rudest mind; but man, inconsiderate that “in every society there is an effort constantly tending to confer on one part the height of power, and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery,” hath abandoned the most important concerns of civil society to the caprice and control of those whose elevation caused them to forget their pristine equality, and whose interest urged them to degrade the best and most useful below the worst and most unprofitable of the species. Against this exertion, and the principle which originates it, no vigilance can be too sharp, no determination too severe.

But alas! as if born to delude and be deluded, to believe whatever is taught, and bear all that is imposed, successive impositions, wrongs, and insults awaken neither the sense of injury nor spirit of revenge. Fascinations and enchantments, chain and fetters, bind in adamant the understanding and passions of the human race. Ages follow ages, pointing the way to study wisdom; but the charm continues.

Sanctified by authority and armed with power, error and usurpation bid defiance to truth and right, while the bulk of mankind sit gazing at the monster of their own creation, — a monster, to which their follies and vices gave origin, and their depravity and cowardice continue in existence.

“The greatest happiness of the greatest number” being the object and bond of society, the establishment of truth and justice ought to be the basis of civil policy and jurisprudence. But this capital establishment can never be attained in a state where there exists a power superior to the civil magistrate, and sufficient to control the authority of the laws. Whenever, therefore, the profession of arms becomes a distinct order in the state, and a standing army part of the constitution, we are not scrupulous to affirm that the end of the social compact is defeated, and the nation called to act upon the grand question consequent upon such an event.

The people who compose the society (for whose security the labour of its institution was performed, and of the toils its preservation daily sustained), — the people, I say, are the only competent judges of their own welfare, and therefore are the only suitable authority to determine touching the great end of their subjection and their sacrifices. This position leads us to two others, not impertinent on this occasion, because of much importance to Americans: —

That the legislative body of the commonwealth ought to deliberate, determine, and make their decrees in places where the legislators may easily know from their own observation the wants and exigencies, the sentiments and will, the good and happiness of the people; and the people as easily know the deliberations, motives, designs, and conduct of their legislators, before their statutes and ordinances actually go forth and take effect; —

That every member of the legislature ought himself to be so far subject in his person and property to the laws of the state as to immediately and effectually feel every mischief and inconvenience resulting from all and every act of legislation.

The science of man and society, being the most extended in its nature, and the most important in its consequences, of any in the circle of erudition, ought to be an object of universal attention and study. Was it made so, the rights of mankind would not remain buried for ages under systems of civil and priestly hierarchy, nor social felicity overwhelmed by lawless domination.

Under appearances the most venerable and institutions the most revered, under the sanctity of religion, the dignity of government, and the smiles of beneficence, does the subtle and ambitious make their first encroachments upon their species. Watch and oppose ought therefore to be the motto of mankind. A nation in its best estate — guarded by good laws, fraught with public virtue, and steeled with martial courage — may resemble Achilles; but Achilles was wounded in the heel. The least point left unguarded, the foe enters: latent evils are the most dangerous; for we often receive the mortal wound while we are flattered with security.

The experience of all ages shows that mankind are inattentive to the calamities of others, careless of admonition, and with difficulty roused to repel the most injurious invasions. “I perceive,” said the great patriot Cicero to his countrymen, “an inclination for tyranny in all Caesar projects and executes.” Notwithstanding this friendly caution, not” till it was too late did the people find out that no beginnings, however small, are to be neglected.”  For that Caesar, who at first attacked the commonwealth with mines, very soon opened his batteries. Encroachments upon the rights and property of the citizen are like the rollings of mighty waters over the breach of ancient mounds,— slow and unalarming at the beginning; rapid and terrible in the current; a deluge and devastation at the end. Behold the oak, which stretcheth itself to the mountains, and overshadows the valleys, was once an acorn in the bowels of the earth. Slavery, my friends, which was yesterday engrafted among you, already overspreads the land, extending its arms to the ocean and its limbs to the rivers. Unclean and voracious animals, under its covert, find protection and food; but the shade blasteth the green herb, and the root thereof poisoneth the dry ground, while the winds which wave its branches scatter pestilence and death.

Regular government is necessary to the preservation of private property and personal security. Without these, men will descend into barbarism, or at best become adepts in humiliation and servility; but they will never make a progress in literature or the useful arts. Surely a proficiency in arts and sciences is of some value to mankind, and deserves some consideration. What regular government can America enjoy with a legislative a thousand leagues distant, unacquainted with her exigencies, militant in interest, and unfeeling of her calamities? What protection of property, when ministers under this authority shall overrun the land with mercenary legions? What personal safety, when a British administration (such as it now is, and corrupt as it may be) pour armies into the capital and senate-house, point their artillery against the tribunal of justice, and plant weapons of death at the posts of our doors?

Thus exposed to the power, and insulted by the arms! All this, and much more, hath Boston been witness to of Britain, standing armies become an object of serious attention. And, as the history of mankind affords no instance of successful and confirmed tyranny without the aid of military forces, we shall not wonder to find them the desiderata of princes, and the grand object of modern policy. What though they subdue every generous passion, and extinguish every spark of virtue, all this must be done, before empires will submit to be exhausted by tribute and plundered with impunity.

Amidst all the devices of man to the prejudice of his species, the institution of which we treat hath proved the most extensively fatal to religion, morals, and social happiness. Founded in the most malevolent dispositions of the human breast, disguised by the policy of state, supported by the lusts of ambition, the sword hath spread havoc and misery throughout the world. By the aid of mercenary troops, the sinews of war, the property of the subject, the life of the Commonwealth, have been committed to the hands of hirelings, whose interest and very existence depend on an abuse of their power. In the lower class of life, standing armies have introduced brutal debauchery and real cowardice; in the higher orders of state, venal haughtiness and extravagant dissipation. In short, whatever are the concomitants of despotism, whatever the appendages of oppression, this armed monster hath spawned or nurtured, protected or established, — monuments and scourges of the folly and turpitude of man.

Abraham: In Search of Public Virtue; A Warning to America by Richard Price

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THE following discourse was composed in some haste, and without any particular attention to the stile; and it is now published, with the addition of a few Notes, partly in compliance with the request of some who heard it and, partly, because it has been misrepresented. The notice which the author has taken of public measures, is such as came necessarily in his way in discussing the subject he had chosen, and in considering the present state of the kingdom. This, however, is the first time in which he has entered into politics in the pulpit, and, perhaps, it may be the last.

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And he said, O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten Shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

YOU must all of you recollect that these words are represented as addressed to the Deity by the Patriarch Abraham, when he was interceding with him for the city of Sodom. There can scarcely be a more affecting representation; and it is not possible that on the present occasion, I should speak to you on a more proper subject. The calamity by which Sodom and the whole country round it was destroyed, is one of the most ancient as well as the most tremendous events, of which we have any account in history. We have a particular relation of it in the 19th chapter of this book of Genesis; and, throughout all the subsequent parts of scripture, it is referred to, and held forth as an example and a warning to other countries.—Thus in Jude we read, that Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, had been set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire; that is, a fire which totally consumed them, and which appeared to be even still burning, and would probably burn till the end of the world. So likewise in the prophecy of Jeremiah, the 50th chapter and 40th verse, it is said that Babylon should no more be inhabited for ever; and that as God had overthrown. Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighboring cities, so should Babylon be overthrown. And in Deuteronomy the 29th and 23d, the prophetical denunciation against the children of Israel is, that if they forsook the Lord, and served other gods, their land should be turned into brimstone and salt and burning, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. And in Luke 17 and 28th and following verses, our Lord, in admonishing his disciples to vigilance, directs them to think of the security and carelessness of the inhabitants of Sodom, before God rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all. It is in allusion also to this event, that in the Revelation (ch. 19:20, and 21: 8.) the future extirpation of anti-christian delusion,, and of the workers of iniquity, is expressed by their being cast into a lake burning with fire and brimstone.

That part of the land of Judea, where these devoted cities stood, was rich and fertile above all the other parts of Judea. In Genesis, chap. 13 we are told that when Lot separated from Abraham, he looked over all the plain of Jordan, and saw that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. This induced great numbers of people to settle in this part of Judea; and, particularly, it engaged Lot and his family to settle here. It was an extensive plain, bounded to the east and west by very high mountains, about seventy-two miles in length and eighteen in breadth. Here several cities were built, the principal of which were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Zoar. The causes that produced the richness of the soil, and crowded this country with inhabitants, were such as at the same time produced a corruption of manners, and rendered its ruin unavoidable. The fertility of the soil proceeded from a warmth communicated to it by subterranean fires. And this, probably, joined to the ease and indulgences arising from a rich soil, contributed to enflame the passions of the inhabitants, and to render them so infamous as we are told they were for wickedness. But while they were rioting in voluptuousness, there was a dreadful enemy working below them, which had been destined by Divine justice to destroy them. The sun being risen upon the earth (as the history tells us) one morning; and Lot and his family (the only righteous persons left) having escaped by Divine direction, the flames burst forth, the whole country sunk at once, and water took its place. The Scriptures call this event God’s raining down from Heaven fire and brimstone. The truth is, that it was an event of the same kind with many that have happened since; or an eruption of liquid fire from the bowels of the earth, like the eruptions from volcanoes, attended with thunder and lightning and earthquakes. So shocking, in this instance, was the catastrophe, that a country, before one of the richest and best peopled in the world, was in one hour converted into a smoking lake, which has been ever since called the Asphaltic (1) lake, or the Dead Sea. The river Jordan had run through this country; but ever since it has discharged itself into this lake, and lost itself in it. Its water is salt and nauseous in the highest degree. Columns of smoke are seen at certain times to rise from it; and it is said, that in some parts of it ruins of buildings may still be seen [See Mr. Maundrell’s Travels, page 84, 85]. Profane historians, as well as the scriptures, bear witness to the calamity which befell these cities. Tacitus says, “that where “the Dead Sea now is, there were formerly fruitful fields and large cities, which were afterwards consumed by thunder and lightning.[Tacit. Hist. Lib. v. cap. 6] Josephus says, that the things which are related of Sodom are confirmed by ocular inspection, there being still visible relics of the fire sent from Heaven, and the shadows of the five cities. [Jos. deBell. Jud. Lib. iv. cap, 8]  In the book of Wisdom (10th chapter and 7th verse) it is said of the inhabitants of Sodom, that the waste land which yet smoketh, and the plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness, bear testimony to their wickedness.

But it is most to my present purpose to give you an account of the notice which, in the verse before my text, the Deity is represented as giving to Abraham of his intention to destroy Sodom, and the intercession which Abraham is represented as making for Sodom. In the 17th verse, Jehovah is described as saying, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing whisk which I do? seeing that in him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; and I know him that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment. In the 22d verse we are told that Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous persons within the city: Wilt thou not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom, fifty righteous, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak to the Lord, who am but dust and ashes. Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: Wilt thou destroy all the city for the lack of five?And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.And Abraham spoke yet again and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there.And the Lord said, I will not destroy it for the sake of forty.And Abraham said again, O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Peradventure there shall be thirty found there.And the Lord said, I will not destroy it if I find thirty there.And Abraham said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord. Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.And Abraham said, O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. . . Peradventure ten shall be found there. And the Lord said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Such is the account in this chapter. I suppose there is no occasion for telling you, that it is not to be understood, that there was on this occasion exactly such a dialogue as this between Abraham and the Governor of the World. It is, I apprehend, a kind of parabolical representation, contrived to impress our minds, and to convey, after the manner of the oriental nations in ancient times, a more distinct and forcible instruction. Indeed, the whole account in this and the next chapter of the appearance of Jehovah to Abraham, of Abraham’s intercession, of Jehovah’s replies, of his promise to spare Sodom had there been found in it but ten righteous persons, and of the extraordinary care which was taken, by the interposition of heavenly messengers, to provide for the deliverance of righteous Lot; I say, this whole account is adapted, with the most striking propriety and energy, to convey to our minds some of the most useful and important lessons. It is, without doubt, founded on real facts, the manner only of telling these facts being to be considered as disguised and veiled by a mixture of allegory. Nor should we at all wonder at such a manner of relating facts, did we know how the ancients wrote history, or by what methods the memory of important events was preserved and transmitted from one generation to another before the invention of letters.

The remarks I have now made mould be attended to in reading many of the other accounts in this book of Genesis; and particularly those of the Creation, the Fall, and the Deluge.—But waving all observations of this kind, I would take occasion from the account I have read, to desire you to consider a circumstance in the scripture history which is very remarkable, and which distinguishes it from all other histories; I mean, the tendency which it has to display the justice and spotless holiness of the Deity, as the moral governor of the world. Other histories carry our views no higher than second causes, or the natural means by which events are produced; but this history constantly and uniformly carries our views to the first cause, and leads us to conceive of the providence of God as guiding the course of nature, and of his love of righteousness, and hatred of iniquity, as the springs of all the blessings enjoyed by nations, and of all the calamities which befall them. Thus, in the present instance, we are taught distinctly that the cause of the destruction of Sodom was the anger of the Deity against the inhabitants for their wickedness; and we are further led to form the most lively ideas of this truth, by being acquainted that had there been in it but ten righteous persons it would have been saved. The natural Causes which produced its destruction would, in” this case, either never have existed, or their operations would have been so directed as to suspend or prevent the calamity they produced. Nothing certainly can be more unreasonable, than to conclude that because an event has been brought about by natural means, therefore the hand of God has not been in it; or that, because we can trace the blessings and the sufferings of beings to certain powers, which are their immediate causes, therefore they can be under no direction from the moral government of the first and supreme cause, A little philosophy may incline a person to this conclusion; but a deep insight into philosophy, and’ an enlarged view of the laws and constitution of nature, will convince us of the contrary. Irreligion and atheism must be derived from miserable inattention and ignorance. True knowledge will necessarily make us devout, and force us to acknowledge that God is the cause of all causes, that his power is the source of all efficacy in nature, and his righteous providence the guide of all that happens.

But to return to the remark which occasioned these observations.—The Scriptures, I have said, direct us to conceive of God’s love of righteousness and aversion to wickedness, as the principles which influence him in determining the fates of kingdoms. He regards communities with particular favor, on account of the number of virtuous persons in them; and he gives them up to Calamity, only when this number is so inconsiderable as not to afford a sufficient reason for saving them. In such circumstances, or when virtuous men are very scarce among a people, they become, as this history teaches us, a devoted people, and they fall a prey to dreadful calamities and judgments.

But we are farther taught by this history, that when a people for their iniquities are visited with judgments, particular care will be taken of such righteous persons as may be left among them. This care will be different in different circumstances; but it will be always, such as will produce an infinite difference between them and the wicked part of a community. Sometimes it may extend so far as even to provide for their temporal security and happiness. When the country, to which they belong, comes to be devoted, they may perhaps be conducted by the hand of Providence to a region of peace and safety, where they shall escape the general desolation. Such was the privilege granted to Lot and his family. He was taken from Sodom, lest he should be consumed in its iniquity. Gen. 19, 15. And it is remarkable, that the messengers of Divine vengeance are represented as so anxious about his safety, that when he lingered, they laid hold of his hand and pulled him away, saying, as we read in the 5th verse, they could, do nothing till he was safe. How high an idea does this give us of God’s care of virtuous men in a time of public calamity? In merciful condescension to our low conceptions, he is described as not having power to destroy this wicked country while there remained in it one virtuous man.

But there is a circumstance in this account still more remarkable. The place to which Lot was allowed to fly was a little town in the plain of Sodom, afterward called Zoar, which was itself one of the five devoted cities, but is represented as spared on purpose to provide an asylum for Lot. His virtue could not weigh so much, or avail so far, as to save the country but, at the same time, such was the regard paid to it, that for the sake of it, a part of the country was preserved and given to Lot as a reward for his probity and piety in the midst of prevailing wickedness. As soon (we read) as he was safe lodged in this little city, the desolating tempest began, and all the country was swallowed up. Gen. 19th and 23d. When Lot entered into Zoar, Jehovah rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and overthrew all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities. So precious is righteousness in the sight of Heaven; and such favorites with the Judge of all the earth are all who practice it. In conformity to the representation on which I am insisting we are led to conceive, that should there (in a time of public calamity) be no distant country provided by Providence, to which the righteous may fly, yet there may be some part of the devoted country itself spared on their account; and, that though their virtue may not avail so far as to prevent or suspend the effects of Divine resentment, yet it may render them less extensive and destructive.

You must, however, remember, that in the common course of things it is not to be expected, that in either of these ways God will manifest his care of the righteous. There may be no distant country to which they can fly, nor may an exemption for their sakes be proper of any part of the country to be destroyed and, therefore, it may be necessary they should remain in it, and share its fate. The present world, we know, the righteous often suffer with the wicked, and indiscriminate distress is permitted. In such circumstances, however, the Deity will still manifest himself a favorer and friend of the virtuous. The loss of worldly blessings will be made up to them by infinitely nobler blessings. Instead of that treasure on earth, which may be taken from them, they shall have a treasure in Heaven, and instead of a temporal, they shall be blest with an eternal deliverance. The distress, in which they may be obliged to share, will be alleviated to them by the reflection on their having done their part to save their country; by the unspeakable satisfaction attending the consciousness of their own integrity; by communications of grace and support to their souls; by a sense of God’s love to them; and the assured hope of an interest in his favor, and of a place under a government of perfect virtue and peace in the Heavens. These are springs of relief and felicity, which no calamities can destroy. They will communicate sweetness to the bitterest draughts and render distress an occasion of joy and triumph. The worst that any calamity can do to a good man, is to take from him that which he does not value. His proper happiness is always secure; and the enemy that tears him from this life removes him to a better. There full amends will be made to him for all those sufferings in which he may be involved by his connections with wicked men in the present state. It is, indeed, in the other world only that a perfect discrimination will be made between men, according to their different moral characters. It is there only that the wicked will cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest; the righteous receive an adequate reward, and the wicked an adequate punishment. Let us, amidst the shocking scenes to which we are witnesses in this world, keep our eyes fixed on that awful state of universal retribution; and never forget the period when (according to the assurance of our Savior) the wicked shall be severed from the just, and the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.

These reflections may help to give you an idea of the importance of righteous men in a kingdom, and of the favor that will be shown them. It is to them that states owe their preservation. It is on them that the very being of a society depends; and when they cease or are reduced to a very small number, a nation necessarily sinks into ruin. But when this happens, and the Supreme Governor visits a nation with judgments, his providence watches over them, and we may consider him as saying to them in the words of Isaiah, 26th chapter and 20th verse, Come ye into your chambers, and shut your doors. Hide yourselves for a little moment, till the indignation be overpast; for behold I come out of my place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. Or we may apply to good men in such circumstances the words in the 91st Psalm, thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flieth by day. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold the reward of the wicked. Because thou haft made the Lord thy refuge, there shall no evil befall thee. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and shew him my salvation.Behold, says the prophet Malachi, the day cometh that shall burn, as an oven, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, the day cometh which shall burn them up, faith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name, shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. Mal. 4; 1, 2.

I cannot close these remarks without observing, that the striking lesson on which I am insisting, is farther taught us in a very extraordinary manner, by the account given us in this book of Genesis of the universal deluge. There are undoubted proofs that such a calamity has happened. The whole face of nature, as well as universal tradition, bear witness to it. The history in Genesis represents it as an effect of God’s justice, or a judgment inflicted by him on mankind for their wickedness. All flesh (it tells us) was become corrupt, and the whole earth was filled with violence, insomuch that only Noah and his family were found righteous. Of this small remnant the Deity is represented as taking particular care, by forewarning them of the calamity, and directing an ark to be built for their preservation. Gen. 7:1. And the Lord said unto Noah, come thou and all thy house into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Thus was a whole world destroyed for the wickedness of its inhabitants, except one virtuous family, which was preserved in an ark, and selected from the rest of mankind to be the founders of a new race.

The warning and admonitions, which such accounts give, should engage us to love and to seek righteousness above all things. When we consider what it is, we cannot wonder that it stands so high in the estimation of the Deity. It is his image in our souls. It is the foundation of all honor and dignity. It is the order by which the universe subsists. God, therefore, must delight in those who practice it, and we may with reason expect that his favor will extend itself to their connections; and that, on their account, .their families, their friends, and their country will be blest. I have been showing you that the Sacred History strongly inculcates this upon us. God will pardon a guilty nation for the sake of the righteous in it, if they are not too few. So we read in Jer. v. i. Run ye through the streets of Jerusalem, and see in the broad places thereof if you can find any one who executeth judgment, and seeketh the truth, and I will pardon Jerusalem. I can scarcely set before you a properer motive to the practice of virtue. If you are virtuous, you may save your country, by engaging God’s favor to it. Do you then love your country? Have you any desire to be the means of preserving and blessing it? If you have, do all you can to increase the number of the virtuous in it; or, should you despair of success in this, resolve at least that you will unite yourselves to that number. Thus will you be your country’s best friends; make yourselves powerful intercessors with the Deity for it, and stand in the gap between it and calamity. But should wickedness become so prevalent as to render calamity necessary, though, in this case, your country must suffer, yet care will be taken of you. Perhaps, you may be directed to some means of escaping from the common ruin; and a Zoar, or an Ark, may be provided for you, from whence you may view the storm, and find yourselves safe. Methinks, the friends of truth and virtue may now look across the Atlantic, and entertain some such hope. But should there be no resource of this kind left, the righteous will at least find resources of infinite value in their own minds; in the testimony of a good conscience; in the consolations of Divine grace; and the prospect of that country where they shall possess an undefiled and incorruptible inheritance.

My inclinations would lead me to address you some time longer in this way. But I must hasten to some observations of a different kind. My principal design on this occasion was to set before you the chief particulars in the characters of those righteous men who are a blessing to their country; and to point out to you the necessary dependence of the salvation of a country on such characters. I shall now desire your attention to what I shall say on these heads.

With respect to the character of those righteous men, who are likely to save a country, I would observe, First, that they love their country and are zealous for its rights. They obey the laws of the legislature that protects them, contribute cheerfully to its support, and are solicitous, while they give to God the things that are God’s, to give also to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s,. They are, therefore, loyal subjects. That is, they do all they can to promote the good order of the state by complying with its laws, and bearing a constant and inviolable allegiance to it. This alone is genuine loyalty; and not any attachment to the persons of princes, arising from a notion of their sacredness. There cannot be any notion more stupid or debasing. The people are the fountain of all civil jurisdiction, and theirs is the true majesty in a state. There is no individual, who, as a member of any community, is more sacred than another, except as far as he is invested with the authority of the community, and employed in executing its will. Civil governors are, in the intention of nature and reason, the servants (2) of the public; and whenever, forgetting this, they imagine they possess inherent rights of dominion, and attempt to establish their own authority, and to govern by their own will, they become dangerous enemies; and all that is valuable to a state requires they should be opposed. The righteous citizen, therefore, whose character I am describing, at the same time that he is loyal, can have no notion of passive obedience and non-resistance. His duty obliges him to enquire into his rights, and to be jealous of them; to attend to the manner in which the trust of government is discharged; and to do his part towards keeping the springs of legislation pure, and checking the progress of oppression. Thus only can he prove himself a worthy and useful citizen (3). It is a sad mistake to think that private men have nothing to do with the administration of public affairs; that there are mysteries in civil government of which they are not judges; and that, instead of ever complaining, it is their duty always to yield and follow. This is the same with saying that in every community the body of the people are only a herd of cattle, made to be led and disposed of as their owners please. Had such a vile principle been always acted upon, there would now have been no such thing as a free government upon earth, and every human right would have been overwhelmed under an universal and savage despotism.—It is thus, that in Religion, a set of holy usurpers have pretended that there are mysteries in religion of which the people are not judges, and into which they mould not enquire and that, for this reason, they ought to resign to them the direction of their faith and consciences. It would be a disgrace to virtue to suppose that it requires an acquiescence in such insolent claims; or that it is a part of the character of a righteous man that he is always ready to crouch to every tyrant, and never exercises his own judgment, or shows any sense of his own dignity as a rational creature and a freeman. Away with all such degrading and miserable sentiments. Let us remember that we are men and not cattle; that the sovereignty in every country belongs to the people; and that a righteous man is the best member of every community, and the best friend to his species, by being the most irreconcilable to slavery, the most sensible to every encroachment on the rights of mankind, the most zealous for equal and universal liberty, and the most active in endeavoring to propagate just sentiments of religion and government. In short, a virtuous man must be a firm and determined patriot. Power cannot awe him. Money cannot bribe him. He scruples no labor or expense in supporting any necessary measures of government; but at the same time he will resist any oppressive measures. If he is an elector, he is sure to give an uninfluenced and honest vote. If he is a magistrate, he is strictly just and impartial, a terror to evil doers, and a praise to all who do well. If he is a senator, he is uncorrupt and faithful. In every station he studies to promote the peace and prosperity of his country. He possesses integrity to assist in directing its councils, and courage to defend its honor and to fight its battles against all enemies.

Such is a righteous man in his public capacity, or as a member of a state. I must go on to observe that in his private capacity he practices every private and social virtue. He is industrious in his calling, upright in his dealings, and true to his engagements. He is a good husband, a good parent, a good neighbor, and a good friend, as well as a good citizen. Within the circle of his family and acquaintance, he maintains the same regard to equity and liberty, that he does in the more extended circle of his fellow subjects and fellow men. He renders to all their dues, honor to whom honor, custom to whom custom, and always acts to others as he desires that others would act to him. He is charitable and generous, as far as his abilities reach; but he avoids all parade and ostentation; and fixes his expenses below his income, that he may enjoy that happy independence which will place him above temptation. In every transaction of commerce, his fairness may be depended on. In the execution of every trust he is exact and faithful. He shuns all the excesses of pleasure and voluptuousness, never suffers his passions to carry him beyond the bounds of chastity and temperance, and within the enclosure of his own breast, where only one eye observes him, he is as just, and fair, and candid, as he appears to be on the open stage of the world.

Once more, He is conscientious and diligent in the discharge of all the duties of religion. This is the crowning part of his character. It is religion that gives dignity and efficacy to all our moral and public principles; nor is it possible there should be a consistent character of virtue without it. A virtuous man, therefore, must be a religious man. He worships God in private, in his family, and in public. He is governed in his whole conduct by a regard to the Deity; looks to him in all that happens; and joins constantly with his fellow-creatures in those social exercises of piety, which are the proper expressions of the homage and fealty which he owes to him as the Supreme Governor and Judge.

I will on this subject only add that the three particulars I have named are inseparable in a righteous character. Public virtue cannot subsist without private; nor can public and private virtue subsist without religion. As a truly virtuous and religious man must be a patriot, so a true patriot must be a virtuous and religious man. The obligations of righteousness are the same in all their branches, and a righteous man cannot violate them habitually in any instance Is it likely, that a man who is false to private engagements, will not be also false to public ones; or that a man, who, in his family is a tyrant, will not be likewise a tyrant as a magistrate? Is it likely that a man, who has given up to his passions his internal liberty, should be a true friend to liberty; or that a man, who will cheat his tradesmen or betray his friends, will not give a wicked vote, and betray his country? Can you imagine that a spendthrift in his own concerns will make an economist in managing the concerns of others; that a wild gamester will take due care of the stake of a kingdom; or that an unprincipled debauchee will make an upright judge or a sound statesman? Can a man who shows no regard to God his Maker, or to Christ his Savior; who is such an enemy to society as to neglect countenancing, by his example, those forms of worship on which the order of society depends; and so void of the fundamental principles of goodness, as to be capable of being habitually atheistical in his conduct: Can, I say, such a person possess any great regard for the interests of society?—Let us reject all such absurd imaginations. Treachery, venality and villainy must be the effects of dissipation, voluptuousness and impiety. These vices sap the foundations of virtue (4). They render men necessitous and supple, and ready at any time to sacrifice their consciences, or to fly to a court, in order to repair a mattered fortune, and procure supplies for prodigality. Let us remember these truths in judging of men. Let us consider that true goodness is uniform and consistent; and learn never to place any great confidence in those pretenders to public spirit, who are not men of virtuous characters. They may boast of their attachment to a public cause, but they want the living root of persevering virtue, and should not be depended on.

Having given you this account of righteous men, I am next to take notice of the causes which produce that dependence, intimated in my text, of the fate of a country on such men. This dependence is derived, first, from the natures of things. Such men are the health and vigor of a state. They are the order that preserve it from anarchy, and the vital springs which give it life and motion. When they are withdrawn, a nation as necessarily falls into ruin as a building falls when its pillars are destroyed, or as an animal body putrefies when the fluids stagnate, and the animal functions cease to be performed.—There is a distant country, once united to us, where every inhabitant has in his house (as a part of his furniture) a book on law and government [the Bible], to enable him to understand his civil rights; a musket to enable him to defend these rights; and a Bible to enable him to understand and practice his religion.—What can hurt such a country?—We have invaded, and for some time have been endeavoring to subdue this country. Is it any wonder that we have not succeeded? How secure must it be, while it preserves its virtue, against all attacks?

But Secondly; the dependence of states on the virtuous men in it is not only thus derived from the necessary course and operations of causes and effects, but from the positive will of the Deity. There is an invisible and almighty power which over-rules the operations of natural causes, and presides over all events. This power is a righteous power, and it must be friendly to the righteous; and therefore, will direct events for the advantage of the country where they reside. In consequence of the particular favor of God to them, and his delight in them, they stay his hand when lifted up to scourge a nation and we may consider him as saying, in the words already quoted, Gen. 19: 22, I cannot do anything till you are gone.

I am in danger of being too tedious on this subject. Nothing now remains but that I conclude with briefly applying the whole to the present state of this country.

On this occasion, I feel myself much at a loss how to address you, not knowing whether I should do it in the way of encouragement or despair. When I think of this congregation; when I recollect the many worthy persons among my acquaintance and friends; and consider what multitudes more there must be that I can never know, and in situations where perhaps I should not expect to find them—when I make only such reflections, I feel comfort, and am disposed to conclude, that all may be well, and that the number of the virtuous among us is still considerable enough to save us.

But when I extend my views, and look abroad into the world; when I consider the accounts I am often hearing of the court, the camp, and the senate, and the profligacy [shamelessly immoral or debauched] that prevails almost everywhere; I fall back into diffidence [meekness, humility], and am ready to believe there is no room for hope. . There are, it is true, among all our parties, political and religious, many excellent characters still left; but the comfort they give me is damped by the following considerations.

First; They are a smaller number than they were. Public and private virtue has been for some time declining. Never, perhaps, was there a time when men showed so little regard to decency in their vices, or were so shameless in their venality and debaucheries. When men are wanted for the business of any department of the state, do you ever find that only honest men are sought for; or that it is, on such an occasion, any objecting to a man that he scoffs at religion, or that he is known to be a drunkard, a gamester, an adulterer, or an atheist? What vacancies would be made in public offices, were all but men of pure manners and independent integrity taken from them?

As to Religion, nothing is plainer than that it was never at so low an ebb, Even among Protestant Non-conformists, the places of worship are almost deserted. In this great metropolis, several of our best congregations have sunk to nothing. Many are sinking, and few flourish. Our religious zeal is dying; and the most valuable part of the dissenting interest is likely soon to be ground to death between enthusiasm on the one hand, and luxury and fashion on the other.

But Secondly; Another discouraging circumstance in our present state is, that a considerable part of the righteous themselves, or of that description of men to whom we must look for the salvation of the kingdom, are only nominally righteous. They are a smaller number than they were; and of this number many are false and hollow. Nothing, indeed, is more discouraging, than to find that a man has been secretly wicked, who, for many years, has carried with him every appearance of the strictest probity and piety. We are all of us often making discoveries of this kind; and they have a tendency to destroy in us all confidence in our fellow-creatures. Take away from the honest men all that are dishonest, and from the religious men all the hypocrites, and what a melancholy reduction will be made of a party, which, without such a reduction, would be too small?—Among the persons to whom it is natural for us to look for the defense of our country, are those in high life, and among our senators, who have taken up the cry of public liberty and virtue, and oppose the oppressions of power. They seem, indeed,, a glorious band; and it is impossible not to admire their zeal. But alas! How often have we been duped by their professions? How often has their zeal proved to be nothing but a cover for ambition, and a struggle for places? How many instances have there been of their forgetting all their declarations, as soon as they have got into power? How often do you hear of their extravagance and immoralities? I have more than once, in the preceding discourse, spoken of Patriotism. I have mentioned it as one of the first and best qualities of a righteous man. But I have done this with pain, on account of the disgrace into which, what is so called has fallen. Patriotism, like Religion, is an excellent thing. But true Patriotism, like true Religion, is a scarce thing. In the State, as well as in the Church, there are , abominable impostors, who have blasted the credit of these divine excellencies to such a degree, that they cannot be mentioned as parts of a good character without an apology. Is it possible there should be a worse symptom in the state of a kingdom?—How mortifying is it to find the nation’s best friends falling so short as they do of our wishes? What measures for restoring a dying constitution? What reformation of abuses, what public points do they hold forth to us, and pledge themselves to accomplish? How little does it signify who are in, or who are out of power, if the constitution continues to bleed, and that system of corruption is not destroyed, which has been for some time destroying the kingdom? In short, where will you find the disinterested patriots, who are ready, in this time of distress, to serve their country for nothing?(5) Where will you find the honest statesmen, who are above making use of undue influence, and will trust for support to the rectitude of their measures; the virtuous electors or representatives, who fear an oath and have no price; or the professors of religion, who cannot be induced to do anything mean or base?—I wish not to be mistaken. I am far from meaning that none such can be found. I have acknowledged (and it is all my encouragement) that such may, be found among (6) all our parties. I only mean to intimate a doubt whether they are not blended with so many hypocrites, and decreased so much in number, as now no longer to make a body of men very discernible, and of sufficient consequence to save us. Would to God there was no reason for entertaining this doubt.

Perhaps we are, in general, too much disposed always to think the present times the worst. I am, probably, myself under the influence of this disposition; but, after studying to be upon my guard against it, I find myself incapable of believing that miserable declensions have not taken place among us.

As an evidence of this, and a farther alarming circumstance in the state of the nation, I would mention to you that levity and dissipation, and rage for pernicious diversions, which prevail among us. Not long ago play-houses were confined to London. But now there is scarcely a considerable town in the kingdom without them. In manufacturing towns they produce very bad effects; and yet there are not many of these towns where they are not established. Think here, particularly, of those scenes of lewdness and intemperance, our masquerades. These are late improvements in our public pleasures; but I question whether in Sodom itself anything much worse could have been found. We answer, indeed, too nearly to the account given by our Savior of this city before its destruction. They eat and drank. ‘They married and were given in marriage. They bought and sold, and planted and builded. That is, they enjoyed themselves in ease and mirth. They gave themselves up to sensuality and criminal indulgences, without thinking of any danger. But the same day that Lot went out, it rained fire and brimstone from Heaven and destroyed them all. Luke 17: 28. “With similar gaiety and security do we now give ourselves up to intrigue and dissipation in the midst of danger. Heaven is angry with us, and our existence is threatened; but it seems to give us no concern. In the course of a few years we have been reduced from the highest pinnacle of glory to the brink of ruin. A third of the empire is lost; and at the same time we see powerful enemies combining against us, our commerce languishing, and our debts and taxes, already insupportable, increasing fast, and likely soon to crush us. Not long ago, this would have produced an alarm which nothing could have quieted. In the last war, particularly, I remember that only the loss of Minorca threw the kingdom into a commotion, which cost an admiral his life, and produced a change of measures. But now, though in a condition unspeakably worse, the kingdom is insensible. We fly to feasts and amusements, and dance the round, of pleasure. The same measures go on. The same ministers direct these measures and sometimes we hear of new emoluments conferred upon them, just as if, instead of having brought us into imminent danger, they had saved us. One would have thought it impossible, that the stupefaction of luxury and vice could have proceeded so far in so short a period. But such torpors, like mortifications before death, have been the common forerunners of calamity. Seldom has it happened, when debauchery and extravagance and a pompous manner of living have come to their height, that they have not been followed by a sudden transition to slavery and misery.

I shall mention to you but one circumstance more that checks my hopes. I mean the fact just alluded to, or the uniform effect of all our public measures for the last four or five years. This is so remarkable, as naturally to dispose us to conclude that we are indeed forsaken by Heaven. Nothing has prospered. Several opportunities for getting back to security and peace have been neglected. Offers of reconciliation, which once would have been joyfully accepted, have been made too late. Every step has plunged us deeper into difficulties; so that now we see a quarrel about tea, which lenity and wisdom might have accommodated immediately, increased into a war more destructive than any in which this country has been ever engaged. Must we not in this see the hand of Providence? Does it not give us reason to fear that God, having no intentions of mercy towards us, ‘has infatuated our councils?—Will you give me leave to mention one particular, proof of this observation?

At the time the alliance with France was notified, it seems to me that an opening was left, by which we might have got back to safety and peace. The alliance was commercial and not exclusive;(7)  We might have consented to it, and determined to withdraw our forces from the colonies. Our situation was such as rendered this necessary; and, in consequence of it, we might in time have recovered their confidence, and secured, by a family compact, every advantage that could be derived from a connection with them. But we had not fortitude enough to consider properly our situation; nor wisdom and magnanimity enough to conform to it. National safety was forced to give way to national dignity. Hostilities against France were begun immediately. And now, with our strength spent, and public credit tottering, we seem to be just entering into a war with the combined powers of France, Spain, and America.

This is, indeed, a prospect so frightful, that I must turn my attention from it. Never did so dark a cloud hang over this nation. May Heaven avert the storm; or, if it must break, may its fury be mitigated, and the issue directed to the general advantage of the interest of truth, liberty and virtue. But, whatever happens, may you and I be found of the number of those righteous persons who have acted the part of faithful citizens, and with whom all shall go well for ever.

FINIS.

 

Footnotes:

(1)  That is, the lake of brimstone. The name of the Dead Sea has been given it from the immoveable stillness of its waters, produced by the bituminous and unctuous matter mixed with it, and floating upon it. Diodorus Siculus, (Lib. 10th, chap. 6.) in describing this lake, says, that though several rivers of sweet water empty themselves into it, the water of it is so bitter and stinking, that no fish can live in it; that great pieces of brimstone frequently rise from the bottom of it, and rest upon its surface like islands; and that the air on its coasts is so hot and infected by sulphureous steams, that the inhabitants are very unhealthy and short-lived. Tacitus calls it, lacus immense ambit u, specie marts, sapore corruptior, gravitate odoris accolis pestifer, Nejue venta mpellitur, neque piscet patitur,

(2) King James the First, in his first speech to his parliament, declared, that he “should never be ashamed to confess it his principal honor to be the Great Servant of the commonwealth.” But in the very same speech, he calls his people his Natural Vassals. It is, therefore, plain, he made this declaration from the same affected humility, or rather insolence, which has led the Pope to give himself the title of Servant of Servants.

(3) It is common to assert that resistance can be justified only in cases of extreme oppression. Mankind, in consequence of indolence and want of union, have generally acted agreeably to this principle; but it has lost the world its liberty. It implies, that resistance ought to be avoided, while oppression is growing, and till it becomes too late to resist successfully without setting every thing afloat, and producing dreadful convulsions. The truth is, that oppression cannot be resisted too soon; and that all the tendencies to it ought to be watched. Had this been always done, tyranny would have been crushed in its birth; and mankind would have been always happy. If an equal and virtuous representation of the people of a state makes an essential part of its legislature, this may be done easily, and every grievance may be redressed, as soon as it appears, without disturbance or tumult; and this forms one of the distinguishing excellencies of such a constitution of government as ours. But if through a general degeneracy, the representation becomes partial and corrupt, a despotism may arise from such a form of government, which will be the very worst possible, and under which no hope may be left, except from a calamity that shall destroy the means of corruption, and awaken to repentance.

Mr. Linguet, in a letter to Voltaire, says of the people, that they are condemned to have only hands, and that mischief arises, and all is lost, the moment they are put upon thinking, Voltaire observes in reply, that, on the contrary, all is lost when they are treated like a herd of bulls; for, in this case, they will use their horns, and sooner or later gore their owners to death. See Letter 8th and 9th in the collection of Mr, de Voltaire’s original letters.—Certain it is, indeed, that much greater evils are to be dreaded from the fury of a people, ignorant and blind, than from the resistance and jealousy of a people inquisitive and enlightened,

(4) Some of the expressions in this passage, and a few others in the latter part of this discourse, may perhaps be too strong. But I am not at liberty to suppress them. Every candid person must see that my views are general; and, should any one imagine the contrary, he will greatly injure me.

(5) One such the nation has lately heard of with admiration. I believe I am happy enough to know some more; and though their services may not be called for, God will recompense them

(6) In this I differ extremely from the learned and worthy and very liberal Bishop of Exeter, who (in a sermon preached on the 30th of January last, before the Lords spiritual and temporal) calls the great men who for some time have been opposing measures which have brought the kingdom near its last struggles, a desperate and daring faction. It is probable, therefore, that he thinks no good men can be found among them. This, at least, must be the opinion of the Archbishop of York, who, in a noted sermon, has called them a body of men, who are held together by the same bond that keeps together the “lowest and wickedest combinations” that is, “rogues and thieves,” as this censure was expressed in the pulpit. I have in this discourse been a little free in delivering censures; but had I delivered any such censures as these, I should have thought myself inexcusable.

(7) It was to become what it now is (offensive and defensive) Only in the event of its being resisted by this country.

What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country

Thomas Paine quote Politicians

NOTE: My comments in brackets […] and italics.

Cato Letters No. 17: Saturday, February 18, 1721; What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country. by John Trenchard

Sir,

As under the best princes, and the best servants to princes alone, it is safe to speak what is true of the worst; so, according to my former promise to the public, I shall take the advantage of our excellent King’s most gentle government, and the virtuous administration of an uncorrupt ministry, to warn mankind against the mischiefs which may hereafter be dreaded from corrupt ones. It is too true, that every country in the world has sometimes groaned under that heavy misfortune, and our own as much as any; though I cannot allow it to be true, what Monsieur de Witt has long since observed, that the English court has always been the most thievish court in Europe.

Few men have been desperate enough to attack openly, and barefaced, the liberties of a free people. Such avowed conspirators can rarely succeed: The attempt would destroy itself. Even when the enterprise is begun and visible, the end must be hid, or denied. It is the business and policy of traitors, so to disguise their treason with plausible names, and so to recommend it with popular and bewitching colors, that they themselves shall be adored, while their work is detested, and yet carried on by those that detest it.

Thus one nation has been surrendered to another under the fair name of mutual alliance: The fortresses of a nation have been given up, or attempted to be given up, under the frugal notion of saving charges to a nation; and commonwealths have been trepanned into slavery, by troops raised or increased to defend them from slavery.

It may therefore be of service to the world, to shew what measures have been taken by corrupt ministers, in some of our neighboring countries, to ruin and enslave the people over whom they presided; to shew by what steps and gradations of mischief nations have been undone, and consequently what methods may be hereafter taken to undo others: And this subject I rather choose, because my countrymen may be the more sensible of, and know how to value the inestimable blessing of living under the best prince, and the best established government in the universe, where we have none of these things to fear.

Such traitors will probably endeavor first to get their prince [the majority of the people] into their possession, and, like Sejanus, shut him up in a little island, or perhaps make him a prisoner in his court; whilst, with full range, they devour his dominions, and plunder his subjects. When he is thus secluded from the access of his friends, and the knowledge of his affairs, he must be content with such misrepresentations as they shall find expedient to give him. False cases will be stated, to justify wicked counsel; wicked counsel will be given, to procure unjust orders. He [The people] will be made to mistake his foes for his friends, his friends for his foes; and to believe that his their affairs are in the highest prosperity, when they are in the greatest distress; and that public matters go on in the greatest harmony, when they are in the utmost confusion.

They will be ever contriving and forming wicked and dangerous projects, to make the people poor, and themselves rich; well knowing that dominion follows property; that where there are wealth and power, there will be always crowds of servile dependents; and that, on the contrary, poverty dejects the mind, fashions it to slavery, and renders it unequal to any generous undertaking, and incapable of opposing any bold usurpation. They will squander away the public money in wanton presents to minions, and their creatures of pleasure or of burden, or in pensions to mercenary and worthless men and women, for vile ends and traitorous purposes. [They are doing this today with the National Debt]

They will engage their country in ridiculous, expensive, fantastical wars, to keep the minds of men in continual hurry and agitation, and under constant fears and alarms; and, by such means, deprive them both of leisure and inclination to look into public miscarriages. Men, on the contrary, will, instead of such inspection, be disposed to fall into all measures offered, seemingly, for their defence, and will agree to every wild demand made by those who are betraying them. [They do not only do this with wars these days; they use all manner of manufactured crisis also]

When they have served their ends by such wars, or have other motives to make peace, they will have no view to the public interest; but will often, to procure such peace, deliver up the strong-holds of their country, or its colonies for trade, to open enemies, suspected friends, or dangerous neighbors, that they may not be interrupted in their domestic designs. [We see all this also happening today]

They will create parties in the commonwealth, or keep them up where they already are; and, by playing them by turns upon each other, will rule both. By making the Guelfs afraid of the Ghibelines, and these afraid of the Guelfs, they will make themselves the mediums and balance between the two factions; and both factions, in their turns, the props of their authority, and the instruments of their designs. [This is talking about class warfare, racial divisions, i.e. strife among the people against each other]

They will not suffer any men, who have once tasted of authority, though personally their enemies, and whose posts they enjoy, to be called to an account for past crimes, though ever so enormous. They will make no such precedents for their own punishment; nor censure treason, which they intend to commit. On the contrary, they will form new conspiracies, and invent new fences for their own impunity and protection; and endeavor to engage such numbers in their guilt, as to set themselves above all fear of punishment. [Benghazi, DOJ, NSA, IRS, AP, James Rosen; Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, IRS Commissioners, Lois Lerner. This is all happening today]

They will prefer worthless and wicked men, and not suffer a man of knowledge or honesty to come near them, or enjoy a post under them. They will disgrace men of virtue, and ridicule virtue itself, and laugh at public spirit. They will put men into employments, without any regard to the qualifications for those employments, or indeed to any qualifications at all, but as they contribute to their designs, and shew a stupid alacrity to do what they are bid. They must be either fools or beggars; either void of capacity to discover their intrigues, or of credit and inclination to disappoint them. [We see this happening with the political leadership against the members of the Tea Party]

They will promote luxury, idleness, and expense, and a general deprivation of manners, by their own example, as well as by connivance [immoral or illegal act] and public encouragement. This will not only divert men’s thoughts from examining their behavior and politics, but likewise let them loose from all the restraints of private and public virtue. From immorality and excesses they will fall into necessity; and from thence into a servile dependence upon power.

In order to this, they will bring into fashion gaming, drunkenness, gluttony, and profuse and costly dress. They will debauch their country with foreign vices, and foreign instruments of vicious pleasures; and will contrive and encourage public revels, nightly disguises, and debauched mummeries [mummeries i.e. A pretentious or hypocritical show or ceremony.]

They will, by all practicable means of oppression, provoke the people to disaffection [hate, anger]; and then make that disaffection an argument for new oppression, for not trusting them any further, and for keeping up troops; and, in fine, for depriving them of liberties and privileges, to which they are entitled by their birth, and the laws of their country.

If such measures should ever be taken in any free country, where the people choose deputies to represent them, then they will endeavor to bribe the electors in the choice of their representatives, and so to get a council of their own creatures; and where they cannot succeed with the electors, they will endeavor to corrupt the deputies after they are chosen, with the money given for the public defence; and to draw into the perpetration of their crimes those very men, from whom the betrayed people expect the redress of their grievances, and the punishment of those crimes. And when they have thus made the representatives of the people afraid of the people, and the people afraid of their representatives; then they will endeavor to persuade those deputies to seize the government to themselves, and not to trust their principals any longer with the power of resenting their treachery and ill-usage, and of sending honester and wiser men in their room.

But if the constitution should be so stubbornly framed, that it will still preserve itself and the people’s liberties, in spite of all villainous contrivances [a thing that is created skillfully and inventively to serve a particular purpose] to destroy both; then must the constitution itself be attacked and broken, because it will not bend. There must be an endeavor, under some pretense of public good, to alter a balance of the government, and to get it into the sole power of their creatures, and of such who will have constantly an interest distinct from that of the body of the people. [We see Obama and the Democrat party doing this, in trying to get the majority back in the House of Representatives like they had in the first two years of his presidency, when they forced Obamacare on US]

But if all these schemes for the ruin of the public, and their own impunity, should fail them; and the worthy patriots of a free country should prove obstinate in defence of their country, and resolve to call its betrayers to a strict account; there is then but one thing left for such traitors to do; namely, to veer about, and, by joining with the [United Nations] enemy of their prince [the people] and country, complete their treason.

I have somewhere read of a favorite and first minister to a neighboring prince, long since dead, who played his part so well, that, though he had, by his evil counsels, raised a rebellion, and a contest for the crown; yet he preserved himself a resource, whoever got the better: If his old master succeeded, then this Achitophel, by the help of a baffled rebellion, ever favorable to princes, had the glory of fixing his master in absolute power: But, as his brave rival got the day, Achitophel had the merit of betraying his old master to plead; and was accordingly taken into favor.

Happy therefore, thrice happy, are we, who can be unconcerned spectators of the miseries which the greatest part of Europe is reduced to suffer, having lost their liberties by the intrigues and wickedness of those whom they trusted; whilst we continue in full enjoyment of ours, and can be in no danger of losing them, while we have so excellent a King, assisted and obeyed by so wise a Parliament.

T. I am, &c.

Freedom of Speech the Same is Inseparable From Public Liberty: Cato Letter No. 15

ChristianPatriotConscience

Cato Letter No. 15, Saturday, February 4, 1721: Freedom of Speech: That the same is inseparable from public Liberty; by Thomas Gordon

Sir,

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech: Which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free government, that the security of property; and the freedom of speech, always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to public traitors.

This secret was so well known to the court of King Charles I that his wicked ministry procured a proclamation to forbid the people to talk of Parliaments, which those traitors had laid aside. To assert the undoubted right of the subject, and defend his Majesty’s legal prerogative, was called disaffection, and punished as sedition. Nay, people were forbid to talk of religion in their families: For the priests had combined with the ministers to cook up tyranny, and suppress truth and the law. While the late King James, when Duke of York, went avowedly to mass; men were fined, imprisoned, and undone, for saying that he was a papist: And, that King Charles II might live more securely a papist, there was an act of Parliament made, declaring it treason to say that he was one.

That men ought to speak well of their governors, is true, while their governors deserve to be well spoken of; but to do public mischief, without hearing of it, is only the prerogative and felicity of tyranny: A free people will be shewing that they are so, by their freedom of speech.

The administration of government is nothing else, but the attendance of the trustees of the people upon the interest and affairs of the people. And as it is the part and business of the people, for whose sake alone all public matters are, or ought to be, transacted, to see whether they be well or ill transacted; so it is the interest, and ought to be the ambition, of all honest magistrates, to have their deeds openly examined, and publicly scanned: Only the wicked governors of men dread what is said of them; Audivit Tiberius probra queis lacerabitur, atque perculsus est. [Tiberius heard the reproaches of those of you whom are to be rent in pieces, and is struck by them] The public censure was true, else he had not felt it bitter.

Freedom of speech is ever the symptom, as well as the effect, of good government. In old Rome, all was left to the judgment and pleasure of the people; who examined the public proceedings with such discretion, and censured those who administered them with such equity and mildness, that in the space of three hundred years, not five public ministers suffered unjustly. Indeed, whenever the commons proceeded to violence, the great ones had been the aggressors.

Guilt only dreads liberty of speech, which drags it out of its lurking holes, and exposes its deformity and horror to day-light. Horatius, Valerius, Cincinnatus, and other virtuous and undesigning magistrates of the Roman commonwealth, had nothing to fear from liberty of speech. Their virtuous administration, the more it was examined, the more it brightened and gained by enquiry. When Valerius, in particular, was accused, upon some slight grounds, of affecting the diadem; he, who was the first minister of Rome, did not accuse the people for examining his conduct, but approved his innocence in a speech to them; he gave such satisfaction to them, and gained such popularity to himself, that they gave him a new name; inde cognomen factum Publicolae est; to denote that he was their favorite and their friend. Latae deinde leges. Ante omnes de provocatione, adversus magistratus ad populum, Livii lib. ii. cap. 8.

The best princes have ever encouraged and promoted freedom of speech; they knew that upright measures would defend themselves, and that all upright men would defend them. Tacitus, speaking of the reigns of some of the princes above-mentioned, says with ecstasy, Rara temporum felicitate, ubi sentire quae velis, & quae sentias dicere liceat: A blessed time, when you might think what you would, and speak what you thought!

The same was the opinion and practice of the wise and virtuous Timoleon, the deliverer of the great city of Syracuse from slavery. He being accused by Demoenetus, a popular orator, in a full assembly of the people, of several misdemeanors committed by him while he was general, gave no other answer, than that he was highly obliged to the gods for granting him a request that he had often made to them; namely, that he might live to see the Syracusians enjoy that liberty of speech which they now seemed to be masters of.

And that great commander, M. Marcellus, who won more battles than any Roman captain of his age, being accused by the Syracusians, while he was now a fourth time consul, of having done them indignities and hostile wrongs, contrary to the League, rose from his seat in the Senate, as soon as the charge against him was opened, and passing (as a private man) into the place where the accused were wont to make their defence, gave free liberty to the Syracusians to impeach him: Which, when they had done, he and they went out of the court together to attend the issue of the cause: Nor did he express the least ill-will or resentment towards these his accusers; but being acquitted, received their city into his protection. Had he been guilty, he would neither have shewn such temper nor courage.

I doubt not but old Spencer and his son, all honest men in England. They dreaded to be called traitors, because they were traitors. And I dare say, Queen Elizabeth’s Walsingham, who deserved no reproaches, feared none. Misrepresentation of public measures is easily overthrown, by representing public measures truly: When they are honest, they ought to be publicly known, that they may be publicly commended; but if they be knavish or pernicious, they ought to be publicly exposed, in order to be publicly detested.

To assert, that King James was a papist and a tyrant, was only so far hurtful to him, as it was true of him; and if the Earl of Strafford had not deserved to be impeached, he need not have feared a bill of attainder. If our directors and their confederates be not such knaves as the world thinks them, let them prove to all the world, that the world thinks wrong, and that they are guilty of none of those villainies which all the world lays to their charge. Others too, who would be thought to have no part of their guilt, must, before they are thought innocent, shew that they did all that was in their power to prevent that guilt, and to check their proceedings.

Freedom of speech is the great bulwark of liberty; they prosper and die together: And it is the terror of traitors and oppressors, and a barrier against them. It produces excellent writers, and encourages men of fine genius. Tacitus tells us, that the Roman commonwealth bred great and numerous authors, who writ with equal boldness and eloquence: But when it was enslaved, those great wits were no more. Postquam bellatum apud Actium; atque omnem potestatem ad unum conferri pacis interfuit, magna illa ingenia cessere. Tyranny had usurped the place of equality, which is the soul of liberty, and destroyed public courage. The minds of men, terrified by unjust power, degenerated into all the vileness and methods of servitude: Abject sycophancy and blind submission grew the only means of preferment, and indeed of safety; men durst not open their mouths, but to flatter.

Pliny the Younger observes, that this dread of tyranny had such effect, that the Senate, the great Roman Senate, became at last stupid and dumb: Mutam ac sedentariam assentiendi necessitatem. Hence, says he, our spirit and genius are stupefied, broken, and sunk for ever. And in one of his epistles, speaking of the works of his uncle, he makes an apology for eight of them, as not written with the same vigor which was to be found in the rest; for that these eight were written in the reign of Nero, when the spirit of writing was cramped by fear; Dubii sermonis octo scripset sub Nerone—cum omne studiorum genus paulo liberius & erectius periculosum servitus fecisset.

All ministers, therefore, who were oppressors, or intended to be oppressors, have been loud in their complaints against freedom of speech, and the licence of the press; and always restrained, or endeavored to restrain, both. In consequence of this, they have brow-beaten writers, punished them violently, and against law, and burnt their works. By all which they shewed how much truth alarmed them, and how much they were at enmity with truth.

There is a famous instance of this in Tacitus: He tells us, that Cremutius Cordus, having in his Annals praised Brutus and Cassius, gave offence to Sejanus, first minister, and to some inferior sycophants in the court of Tiberius; who, conscious of their own characters, took the praise bestowed on every worthy Roman, to be so many reproaches pointed at themselves: They therefore complained of the book to the Senate; which, being now only the machine of tyranny, condemned it to be burnt. But this did not prevent its spreading. Libros cremandos censuere patres; sed manserunt occultati & editi: [The books were burned the senate decreed; but they remained hidden and published] Being censured, it was the more sought after. “From hence,” says Tacitus, “we may wonder at the stupidity of those statesmen, who hope to extinguish, by the terror of their power, the memory of their actions; for quite otherwise, the punishment of good writers gains credit to their writings:” Nam contra, punitis ingeniis, gliscit auctoritas. [For on the contrary, the persecution of genius, fosters its influence] Nor did ever any government, who practiced impolitic severity, get any thing by it, but infamy to themselves, and renown to those who suffered under it. This also is an observation of Tacitus: Neque aliud [externi] reges, [aut] qui ea[dem] saevitiae usi sunt, nisi dedecus sibi, atque gloriam illis peperere. [No other of the external kings, or as He who gave them made ​​use of the same brutality, unless he procured infamy for themselves and the glory they won.]

Freedom of speech, therefore, being of such infinite importance to the preservation of liberty, every one who loves liberty ought to encourage freedom of speech. Hence it is that I, living in a country of liberty, and under the best prince upon earth, shall take this very favorable opportunity of serving mankind, by warning them of the hideous mischiefs that they will suffer, if ever corrupt and wicked men shall hereafter get possession of any state, and the power of betraying their master: And, in order to do this, I will shew them by what steps they will probably proceed to accomplish their traitorous ends. This may be the subject of my next.

Valerius Maximus tells us, that Lentulus Marcellinus, the Roman consul, having complained, in a popular assembly, of the overgrown power of Pompey; the whole people answered him with a shout of approbation: Upon which the consul told them, “Shout on, gentlemen, shout on, and use those bold signs of liberty while you may; for I do not know how long they will be allowed you.”

God be thanked, we Englishmen have neither lost our liberties, nor are in danger of losing them. Let us always cherish this matchless blessing, almost peculiar to ourselves; that our posterity may, many ages hence, ascribe their freedom to our zeal. The defence of liberty is a noble, a heavenly office; which can only be performed where liberty is: For, as the same Valerius Maximus observes, Quid ergo libertas sine Catone? non magis quam Cato sine libertate. [So what is liberty without Cato? no more than Cato, without freedom.]

G. I am, &c.

 

 

CATO Letters Vol 1 No 12 Of Treason: All Treasons not to be found in Statutes

Sir John TrenchardNo. 12, Saturday, January 14, 1721: Of Treason: All Treasons not to be found in Statutes. The Right of the Legislature to declare Treasons. By John Trenchard

Sir,

Treason, properly so called, in Latin, Crimen laesae majestatis [The crime of treason], is in all countries the same: It is an endeavour to subvert, or to do some notable mischief to the publick; of which every man is a part, and with which he has joined himself for mutual defence, under what form soever the administration is exercised. I own, that lesser crimes aresometimes called by the same name, and subjected to the same punishment.

An attempt to destroy the chief magistrate of a commonwealth, or the general of an army in the field, or the governor of a town during a siege, are certainly treasons everywhere; because in such attempts, when they succeed, are often involved the ruin of states. They also are doubtless guilty of high treason, who, being entrusted with the wealth, security, and happiness of kingdoms, do yet knowingly pervert that trust, to the undoing of that people whom they are obliged, by undeserved rewards, as well as by all the ties of religion, justice, honour, and gratitude, to defend and protect.

’Tis the same, if any number of men, though in a lesser trust, or in no trust at all, should deliberately and knowingly destroy thousands of their fellow-subjects, and overturn the trade and publick credit of the nation, to enrich themselves and their accomplices.

These, and crimes of the like nature, are treasons from the nature of things themselves, antecedent to all laws that call them so; and will be treasons, though laws gained by subordination should call them otherwise: And every state has a right to treat those who commit them, as traitors and parricides. In truth, there are as many of these kinds of treasons, as there are different methods of conspiring against kingdoms; and the criminals, though ever so great, deserve death and confiscation; that is, they ought to be destroyed by the people whom they would destroy.

The great principal of self-preservation, which is the first and fundamental law of nature, calls for this procedure; the security of commonwealths depends upon it; the very being of government makes it necessary; and whatever is necessary to the publick safety, is just.

The fate of millions, and the being of states, must not stand and fall by the distinctions of monks, coined in colleges, or by the chicane of petty-foggers; who would bring everything within the narrow verge of their own knowledge, under their own jurisdiction and cognizance; and would determine all things by the rules of inferior judicatures, the gibberish of private practisers, and the sayings of old women, or of those who are like old women; whose brains are addled by being long jumbled and always turned round within the scanty circle of private courts, not daring to venture at a bold and free thought out of them, however self-evident; like some carriers’ horses, that are used to a track, and know not how to travel in an open road.

But questions of this kind belong ad aliud examen [the other test], and ought to be brought before an higher tribunal: The legislature are the only proper and safe judges: What is done against all, should be judged by all. Nor are their resolutions to be confined by any other rule than Quid est utile, quid honestum [What is useful and what is morally right], general justice, and the general good. Religion, virtue, common sense, and the publick peace and felicity, are the only counsel to be admitted either for the publick or the prisoners.

The conspirators against mankind ought to know, that no subterfuges, or tergiversations; no knavish subtilties, or pedantic quirks of lawyers; no evasions, skulkings behind known statutes; no combinations, or pretended commissions, shall be able to screen or protect them from publick justice. They ought to know, that there is a power in being that can follow them through all the dark labyrinths and doubling meanders; a power that can crush them to pieces, though they change into all the shapes of Proteus, to avoid the fury of Hercules: a power, confined by no limitation, but that of publick justice and the publick good; a power, that does not follow precedents, but makes them; a power, which has this for its principle, that extraordinary crimes ought not to be tried by ordinary rules, and that unprecedented villanies ought to have unprecedented punishments.

But though in all governments, this great power must exist somewhere, yet it can rarely be delegated with prudence to inferior magistrates; who, out of ambition, revenge, or faction, or for bribes and preferments, or out of fear and flattery, or in concert with the ill measures or selfish intrigues of statesmen, may pervert so dangerous a trust to the destruction of those whom it was intended to preserve.

This particularly has been the case of England: We know by what means judges were often made, and from what conduct they expected farther preferment, and from whom they looked for protection: For this reason they were, and ought to be, confined in their jurisdiction relating to treason, and the manner of trying it.

Undoubtedly every intention manifested by act to destroy the constitution and government, was treason by the common law of England. But why do I say of England, since it is, and ever was, treason in every country throughout the world? This treason equally extends to those, who would subvert either house of Parliament, or the rights and privileges of the people, as to those who attempt to destroy the person of the King, or dethrone him. And indeed, what can be more absurd, than to suppose it to be the highest crime to attempt to destroy one man, for no other reason but that he is King; and yet not to suppose it the highest crime to destroy that people for whose benefit alone he was made King, and for whose sake indeed there ever was such a thing in the world?

But though this proposition was self-evident, and must ever be assented to as soon as mentioned, yet, by the flattery of priests and servile lawyers, the salus populi [public safety], or security of the state, soon came to signify only the unbounded power and sovereignty of the prince; and it became treason to hinder one, constituted, and grandly maintained out of the people’s labour and wealth, for the publick safety, from destroying the publick safety. Our ancestors found, by lamentable experience, that unworthy men, preferred by corrupt ministers for unworthy ends, made treasons free only of the court; that the least attempt to oppose unlimited and unlawful authority, was often called treason; and that the highest treasons of all, which were those against the commonwealth, might be committed with impunity, applause, and rewards.

It was therefore high time to apply an adequate remedy to an enormous mischief, which struck at the whole state, and at the fortunes and lives of every subject in England. The statute therefore of the 25th of Edward III was enacted, which enumerates the several species or kinds of treasons, which shall continue to be esteemed treasons, and be adjudged so by the King’s justices; and are chiefly those which relate to the King’s person, his family, and dignity: These the Parliament thought they might safely trust to the examination of the King’s judges, under such limitations and regulations as the act presents.

But it is plain, from the same act, that they did not intend to confine all treasons to those recited there, because it is declared in the following words, viz.

If any other case supposed treason, not before specified, shall happen before any justices, they shall stay judgment, till the cause be shewed before the Parliament, whether it ought to be judged treason or not.

So that here is a plain declaration of the legislature (if any man can possibly think such a declaration wanting) that other crimes were treason, and ought to be punished as treason (though not by the King’s judges), besides those recited in the act; which were, as has been said, designed only to extend to treasons which were committed against our Lord the King, and his Royal Majesty, as the act expressly says. And ’tis evident, from the whole tenor of it, that it was intended purely to restrain the unlimited and exorbitant jurisdiction assumed by the King’s courts, in declaring treasons, and sacrificing by that means, whom they pleased to unlawful power.

But as to the highest and most heinous treasons of all, such as were treasons against the legislature, and against the whole body of the people, for whose safety alone there were any treasons against the King at all, seeing that their safety was, in a great measure, included in his; the Parliament reserved the judgment of every such treason to themselves: They did not alter what was treason, but the judges of it. They knew that treasons against the constitution could seldom be committed but by ministers and favourites of princes, protected by power, and sheltered by authority; and that therefore it would be absurd to trust the punishment of such potent knaves, and criminal favourites, to judges made by themselves; judges, who would neither have inclination, figure, or character, to reach crimes countenanced, and perhaps authorized, by a Richard II or Edward II.

Such crimes, therefore, were the proper objects of the awful power of a legislature; who will always be supported by the people whom they represent, when they exert themselves for the interest of that people. A power, so supported, can make the loftiest traitor quake. It can fetch corrupt ministers out of their dark recesses, and make their heads a victim to publick vengeance. Every wise and good king will lend a willing ear to their dutiful remonstrances; he will hearken to the importunate cries of his people, and readily deliver up the authors of their misery.

One great part of their care, therefore, has ever been, to call those to an account, who have abused the favour of their royal master, and endeavoured to make him little and contemptible to his people; weakening, by such means, his authority, and hazarding his person. This the people, whom they represented, thought they had a right to expect and demand from them; and this justice they have often done to their King and country.

An excellent Discourse concerning Treasons and Bills of Attainder was published soon after his Majesty’s accession to the throne, and shewed unanswerably, that our Parliaments, in almost every reign since the Conquest, claimed and exercised this right, upon extraordinary occasions; and none ever, till lately, opposed it, but the criminals who were to suffer by it, and their party: Some gentlemen now living can give the best account, why that book, and the cries of every honest man, had not their desired effect. I hope that no man will be deluded again by any practising the same arts, and for the same reasons too.

The length of this letter will not allow me to draw from all these reasonings upon treason such applications as I promised in my last, and intended in this. I shall therefore defer these applications to another, and perhaps more proper, occasion. In the mean while, I observe with pleasure the noble spirit shewn by our legislature, to punish, with an exemplary severity, the murderers of our credit, and the publick enemies of our liberty and prosperity. This revives every drooping heart, and kindles joy in every face, in spite of all our miseries. And this brings terror, trembling, and paleness upon the guilty; to see death and destruction pursuing them close, and besetting them hard on every side. They are in the circumstances and the agonies of the guilty Cain, who justly feared that every man whom he met would kill him, though there was no law then in being against murder.

T. I am, &c.

 

THE LIBERTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL by John Stuart Mill

JohnStuartMill

THE subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. A question seldom stated, and hardly ever discussed, in general terms, but which profoundly influences the practical controversies of the age by its latent presence, and is likely soon to make itself recognised as the vital question of the future. It is so far from being new, that, in a certain sense, it has divided mankind, almost from the remotest ages; but in the stage of progress into which the more civilized portions of the species have now entered, it presents itself under new conditions, and requires a different and more fundamental treatment.

The struggle between Liberty and Authority is the most conspicuous feature in the portions of history with which we are earliest familiar, particularly in that of Greece, Rome, and England. But in old times this contest was between subjects, or some classes of subjects, and the Government. By liberty, was meant protection against the tyranny of the political rulers. The rulers were conceived (except in some of the popular governments of Greece) as in a necessarily antagonistic position to the people whom they ruled. They consisted of a governing One, or a governing tribe or caste, who derived their authority from inheritance or conquest, who, at all events, did not hold it at the pleasure of the governed, and whose supremacy men did not venture, perhaps did not desire, to contest, whatever precautions might be taken against its oppressive exercise. Their power was regarded as necessary, but also as highly dangerous; as a weapon which they would attempt to use against their subjects, no less than against external enemies. To prevent the weaker members of the community from being preyed upon by innumerable vultures, it was needful that there should be an animal of prey stronger than the rest, commissioned to keep them down. But as the king of the vultures would be no less bent upon preying on the flock than any of the minor harpies, it was indispensable to be in a perpetual attitude of defence against his beak and claws. The aim, therefore, of patriots was to set limits to the power which the ruler should be suffered to exercise over the community; and this limitation was what they meant by liberty. It was attempted in two ways. First, by obtaining a recognition of certain immunities, called political liberties or rights, which it was to be regarded as a breach of duty in the ruler to infringe, and which, if he did infringe, specific resistance, or general rebellion, was held to be justifiable. A second, and generally a later expedient, was the establishment of constitutional checks, by which the consent of the community, or of a body of some sort, supposed to represent its interests, was made a necessary condition to some of the more important acts of the governing power. To the first of these modes of limitation, the ruling power, in most European countries, was compelled, more or less, to submit. It was not so with the second; and, to attain this, or when already in some degree possessed, to attain it more completely, became everywhere the principal object of the lovers of liberty. And so long as mankind were content to combat one enemy by another, and to be ruled by a master, on condition of being guaranteed more or less efficaciously against his tyranny, they did not carry their aspirations beyond this point.

A time, however, came, in the progress of human affairs, when men ceased to think it a necessity of nature that their governors should be an independent power, opposed in interest to themselves. It appeared to them much better that the various magistrates of the State should be their tenants or delegates, revocable at their pleasure. In that way alone, it seemed, could they have complete security that the powers of government would never be abused to their disadvantage. By degrees this new demand for elective and temporary rulers became the prominent object of the exertions of the popular party, wherever any such party existed; and superseded, to a considerable extent, the previous efforts to limit the power of rulers. As the struggle proceeded for making the ruling power emanate from the periodical choice of the ruled, some persons began to think that too much importance had been attached to the limitation of the power itself. That (it might seem) was a resource against rulers whose interests were habitually opposed to those of the people. What was now wanted was, that the rulers should be identified with the people; that their interest and will should be the interest and will of the nation. The nation did not need to be protected against its own will. There was no fear of its tyrannizing over itself. Let the rulers be effectually responsible to it, promptly removable by it, and it could afford to trust them with power of which it could itself dictate the use to be made. Their power was but the nation’s own power, concentrated, and in a form convenient for exercise. This mode of thought, or rather perhaps of feeling, was common among the last generation of European liberalism, in the Continental section of which it still apparently predominates. Those who admit any limit to what a government may do, except in the case of such governments as they think ought not to exist, stand out as brilliant exceptions among the political thinkers of the Continent. A similar tone of sentiment might by this time have been prevalent in our own country, if the circumstances which for a time encouraged it, had continued unaltered.

But, in political and philosophical theories, as well as in persons, success discloses faults and infirmities which failure might have concealed from observation. The notion, that the people have no need to limit their power over themselves, might seem axiomatic, when popular government was a thing only dreamed about, or read of as having existed at some distant period of the past. Neither was that notion necessarily disturbed by such temporary aberrations as those of the French Revolution, the worst of which were the work of an usurping few, and which, in any case, belonged, not to the permanent working of popular institutions, but to a sudden and convulsive outbreak against monarchical and aristocratic despotism. In time, however, a democratic republic came to occupy a large portion of the earth’s surface, and made itself felt as one of the most powerful members of the community of nations; and elective and responsible government became subject to the observations and criticisms which wait upon a great existing fact. It was now perceived that such phrases as ‘ self-government/ and ‘ the power of the people over themselves,’ do not express the true state of the case. The ‘people’ who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised; and the ‘self-government’ spoken of is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest. The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power. The limitation, therefore, of the power of government over individuals loses none of its importance when the holders of power are regularly accountable to the community, that is, to the strongest party therein. This view of things, recommending itself equally to the intelligence of thinkers and to the inclination of those important classes in European society to whose real or supposed interests democracy is adverse, has had no difficulty in establishing itself; and in political speculations the tyranny of the majority’ is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard.

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

But though this proposition is not likely to be contested in general terms, the practical question, where to place the limit—how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control—is a subject on which nearly everything remains to be done. All that makes existence valuable to any one, depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people. Some rules of conduct, therefore, must be imposed, by law in the first place, and by opinion on many things which are not fit subjects for the operation of law. What these rules should be, is the principal question in human affairs; but if we except a few of the most obvious cases, it is one of those which least progress has been made in resolving. No two ages, and scarcely any two countries, have decided it alike; and the decision of one age or country is a wonder to another. Yet the people of any given age and country no more suspect any difficulty in it, than if it were a subject on which mankind had always been agreed. The rules which obtain among themselves appear to them self-evident and self-justifying. This all but universal illusion is one of the examples of the magical influence of custom, which is not only, as the proverb says, a second nature, but is continually mistaken for the first. The effect of custom, in preventing any misgiving respecting the rules of conduct which mankind impose on one another, is all the more complete because the subject is one on which it is not generally considered necessary that reasons should be given, either by one person to others, or by each to himself. People are accustomed to believe, and have been encouraged in the belief by some who aspire to the character of philosophers, that their feelings, on subjects of this nature, are better than reasons, and render reasons unnecessary. The practical principle which guides them to their opinions on the regulation of human conduct, is the feeling in each person’s mind that everybody should be required to act as he, and those with whom he sympathizes, would like them to act. No one, indeed, acknowledges to himself that his standard of judgment is his own liking; but an opinion on a point of conduct, not supported by reasons, can only count as one person’s preference; and if the reasons, when given, are a mere appeal to a similar preference felt by other people, it is still only many people’s liking instead of one. To an ordinary man, however, his own preference, thus supported, is not only a perfectly satisfactory reason, but the only one he generally has for any of his notions of morality, taste, or propriety, which are not expressly written in his religious creed; and his chief guide in the interpretation even of that. Men’s opinions, accordingly, on what is laudable or blameable, are affected by all the multifarious causes which influence their wishes in regard to the conduct of others, and which are as numerous as those which determine their wishes on any other subject. Sometimes their reason—at other times their prejudices or superstitions: often their social affections, not seldom their antisocial ones, their envy or jealousy, their arrogance or contemptuousness: but most commonly, their desires or fears for themselves— their legitimate or illegitimate self-interest. Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emanates from its class interests, and its feelings of class superiority. The morality between Spartans and Helots, between planters and negroes, between princes and subjects, between nobles and roturiers, between men and women, has been for the most part the creation of these class interests and feelings: and the sentiments thus generated, react in turn upon the moral feelings of the members of the ascendant class, in their relations among themselves. Where, on the other hand, a class, formerly ascendant, has lost its ascendancy, or where its ascendancy is unpopular, the prevailing moral sentiments frequently bear the impress of an impatient dislike of superiority. Another grand determining principle of the rules of conduct, both in act and forbearance, which have been enforced by law or opinion, has been the servility of mankind towards the supposed preferences or aversions of their temporal masters, or of their gods. This servility, though essentially selfish, is not hypocrisy; it gives rise to perfectly genuine sentiments of abhorrence; it made men burn magicians and heretics. Among so many baser influences, the general and obvious interests of society have of course had a share, and a large one, in the direction of the moral sentiments: less, however, as a matter of reason, and on their own account, than as a consequence of the sympathies and antipathies which grew out of them: and sympathies and antipathies which had little or nothing to do with the interests of society, have made themselves felt in the establishment of moralities with quite as great force.

The likings and dislikings of society, or of some powerful portion of it, are thus the main thing which has practically determined the rules laid down for general observance, under the penalties of law or opinion. And in general, those who have been in advance of society in thought and feeling, have left this condition of things unassailed in principle, however they may have come into conflict with it in some of its details. They have occupied themselves rather in inquiring what things society ought to like or dislike, than in questioning whether its likings or dislikings should be a law to individuals. They preferred endeavouring to alter the feelings of mankind on the particular points on which they were themselves heretical, rather than make common cause in defence of freedom, with heretics generally. The only case in which the higher ground has been taken on principle and maintained with consistency, by any but an individual here and there, is that of religious belief: a case instructive in many ways, and not least so as forming a most striking instance of the fallibility of what is called the moral sense: for the odium theologicum, in a sincere bigot, is one of the most unequivocal cases of moral feeling. Those who first broke the yoke of what called itself the Universal Church, were in general as little willing to permit difference of religious opinion as that church itself. But when the heat of the conflict was over, without giving a complete victory to any party, and each church or sect was reduced to limit its hopes to retaining possession of the ground it already occupied; minorities, seeing that they had no chance of becoming majorities, were under the necessity of pleading to those whom they could not convert, for permission to differ. It is accordingly on this battle field, almost solely, that the rights of the individual against society have been asserted on broad grounds of principle, and the claim of society to exercise authority over dissentients, openly controverted. The great writers to whom the world owes what religious liberty it possesses, have mostly asserted freedom of conscience as an indefeasible right, and denied absolutely that a human being is accountable to others for his religious belief. Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care about, that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized, except where religious indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale. In the minds of almost all religious persons, even in the most tolerant countries, the duty of toleration is admitted with tacit reserves. One person will bear with dissent in matters of church government, but not of dogma; another can tolerate everybody, short of a Papist or an Unitarian; another, everyone who believes in revealed religion; a few extend their charity a little further, but stop at the belief in a God and in a future state. Wherever the sentiment of the majority is still genuine and intense, it is found to have abated little of its claim to be obeyed.

In England, from the peculiar circumstances of our political history, though the yoke of opinion is perhaps heavier, that of law is lighter, than in most other countries of Europe; and there is considerable jealousy of direct interference, by the legislative or the executive power, with private conduct; not so much from any just regard for the independence of the individual, as from the still subsisting habit of looking on the government as representing an opposite interest to the public. The majority have not yet learnt to feel the power of the government their power, or its opinions their opinions. When they do so, individual liberty will probably be as much exposed to invasion from the government, as it already is from public opinion. But, as yet, there is a considerable amount of feeling ready to be called forth against any attempt of the law to control individuals in things in which they have not hitherto been accustomed to be controlled by it; and this with very little discrimination as to whether the matter is, or is not, within the legitimate sphere of legal control; insomuch that the feeling, highly salutary on the whole, is perhaps quite as often misplaced as well grounded in the particular instances of its application. There is, in fact, no recognised principle by which the propriety or impropriety of government interference is customarily tested. People decide according to their personal preferences. Some, whenever they see any good to be done, or evil to be remedied, would willingly instigate the government to undertake the business; while others prefer to bear almost any amount of social evil, rather than add one to the departments of human interests amenable to governmental control. And men range themselves on one or the other side in any particular case, according to this general direction of their sentiments; or according to the degree of interest which they feel in the particular thing which it is proposed that the government should do, or according to the belief they entertain that the government would, or would not, do it in the manner they prefer; but very rarely on account of any opinion to which they consistently adhere, as to what things are fit to be done by a government. And it seems to me that in consequence of this absence of rule or principle, one side is at present as often wrong as the other; the interference of government is, with about equal frequency, improperly invoked and improperly condemned.

The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him, must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood. Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury. For the same reason, we may leave out of consideration those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage. The early difficulties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, perhaps otherwise unattainable. Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one. But as soon as mankind have attained the capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion (a period long since reached in all nations with whom we need here concern ourselves), compulsion, either in the direct form or in that of pains and penalties for non-compliance, is no longer admissible as a means to their own good, and justifiable only for the security of others. It is proper to state that I forego any advantage which could be derived to my argument from the idea of abstract right, as a thing independent of utility. I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being. Those interests, I contend, authorize the subjection of individual spontaneity to external control, only in respect to those actions of each, which concern the interest of other people. If any one does an act hurtful to others, there is a primd facie case for punishing him, by law, or, where legal penalties are not safely applicable, by general disapprobation. There are also many positive acts for the benefit of others, which he may rightfully be compelled to perform; such as, to give evidence in a court of justice; to bear his fair share in the common defence, or in any other joint work necessary to the interest of the society of which he enjoys the protection; and to perform certain acts of individual beneficence, such as saving a fellowcreature’s life, or interposing to protect the defenceless against ill-usage, things which whenever it is obviously a man’s duty to do, he may rightfully be made responsible to society for not doing. A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury. The latter case, it is true, requires a much more cautious exercise of compulsion than the former. To make any one answerable for doing evil to others, is the rule; to make him answerable for not preventing evil, is, comparatively speaking, the exception. Yet there are many cases clear enough and grave enough to justify that exception. In all things which regard the external relations of the individual, he is dejure amenable to those whose interests are concerned, and if need be, to society as their protector. There are often good reasons for not holding him to the responsibility; but these reasons must arise from the special expediencies of the case: either because it is a kind of case in which he is on the whole likely to act better, when left to his own discretion, than when controlled in any way in which society have it in their power to control him; or because the attempt to exercise control would produce other evils, greater than those which it would prevent. When such reasons as these preclude the enforcement of responsibility, the conscience of the agent himself should step into the vacant judgment seat, and protect those interests of others which have no external protection; judging himself all the more rigidly, because the case does not admit of his being made accountable to the judgment of his fellow-creatures.

But there is a sphere of action in which society, as distinguished from the individual, has, if any, only an indirect interest; comprehending all that portion of a person’s life and conduct which affects only himself, or if it also affects others, only with their free, voluntary, and undeceived consent and participation. When I say only himself, I mean directly, and in the first instance: for whatever affects himself, may affect others through himself; and the objection which may be grounded on this contingency, will receive consideration in the sequel. This, then, is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological. The liberty of expressing and publishing opinions may seem to fall under a different principle, since it belongs to that part of the conduct of an individual which concerns other people; but, being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, and resting in great part on the same reasons, is practically inseparable from it. Secondly, the principle requires liberty of tastes and pursuits; of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow: without impediment from our fellow-creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong. Thirdly, from this liberty of each individual, follows the liberty, within the same limits, of combination among individuals; freedom to unite, for any purpose not involving harm to others: the persons combining being supposed to be of full age, and not forced or deceived.

No society in which these liberties are not, on the whole, respected, is free, whatever may be its form of government; and none is completely free in which they do not exist absolute and unqualified. The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

Though this doctrine is anything but new, and, to some persons, may have the air of a truism, there is no doctrine which stands more directly opposed to the general tendency of existing opinion and practice. Society has expended fully as much effort in the attempt (according to its lights) to compel people to conform to its notions of personal, as of social excellence. The ancient commonwealths thought themselves entitled to practise, and the ancient philosophers countenanced, the regulation of every part of private conduct by public authority, on the ground that the State had a deep interest in the whole bodily and mental discipline of every one of its citizens; a mode of thinking which may have been admissible in small republics surrounded by powerful enemies, in constant peril of being subverted by foreign attack or internal commotion, and to which even a short interval of relaxed energy and self-command might so easily be fatal, that they could not afford to wait for the salutary permanent effects of freedom. In the modern world, the greater size of political communities, and above all, the separation between spiritual and temporal authority (which placed the direction of men’s consciences in other hands than those which controlled their worldly affairs), prevented so great an interference by law in the details of private life; but the engines of moral repression have been wielded more strenuously against divergence from the reigning opinion in self-regarding, than even in social matters; religion, the most powerful of the elements which have entered into the formation of moral feeling, having almost always been governed either by the ambition of a hierarchy, seeking control over every department of human conduct, or by the spirit of Puritanism. And some of those modern reformers who have placed themselves in strongest opposition to the religions of the past, have been no way behind either churches or sects in their assertion of the right of spiritual domination: M. Comte, in particular, whose social system, as unfolded in his Systeme de Politique Positive, aims at establishing (though by moral more than by legal appliances) a despotism of society over the individual, surpassing anything contemplated in the political ideal of the most rigid disciplinarian among the ancient philosophers.

Apart from the peculiar tenets of individual thinkers, there is also in the world at large an increasing inclination to stretch unduly the powers of society over the individual, both by the force of opinion and even by that of legislation: and as the tendency of all the changes taking place in the world is to strengthen society, and diminish the power of the individual, this encroachment is not one of the evils which tend spontaneously to disappear, but, on the contrary, to grow more and more formidable. The disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellowcitizens, to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on others, is so energetically supported by some of the best and by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature, that it is hardly ever kept under restraint by anything but want of power; and as the power is not declining, but growing, unless a strong barrier of moral conviction can be raised against the mischief, we must expect, in the present circumstances of the world, to see it increase.

It will be convenient for the argument, if, instead of at once entering upon the general thesis, we confine ourselves in the first instance to a single branch of it, on which the principle here stated is, if not fully, yet to a certain point, recognised by the current opinions. This one branch is the Liberty of Thought: from which it is impossible to separate the cognate liberty of speaking and of writing. Although these liberties, to some considerable amount, form part of the political morality of all countries which profess religious toleration and free institutions, the grounds, both philosophical and practical, on which they rest, are perhaps not so familiar to the general mind, nor so thoroughly appreciated by many even of the leaders of opinion, as might have been expected. Those grounds, when rightly understood, are of much wider application than to only one division of the subject, and a thorough consideration of this part of the question will be found the best introduction to the remainder. Those to whom nothing which I am about to say will be new, may therefore, I hope, excuse me, if on a subject which for now three centuries has been so often discussed, I venture on one discussion more.

Hungarian President Louis Kossuth Concerning the Centralization of Power

LouisKossuthLajos Kossuth, [aka Louis] the Hungarian political reformer and leader of the 1848-1849 revolution for Hungarian independence, was one of the greatest statesmen and orators of the mid 19th century. He was a prominent figure, well known in the United States and Europe for his leadership of the democratic forces who sought Hungarian independence from Austrian domination. During his exile, [See the rest of his bio below speech] he toured the United States in 1851-1852, American journalist Horace Greeley said of Kossuth: “Among the orators, patriots, statesmen, exiles, he has, living or dead, no superior.”

Speech at a Washington Banquet, Jan. 6th, 1852, The Banquet given by a large number of the Members of the two Houses of Congress to Kossuth took place at the National Hotel, in Washington City. The number present was about two hundred and fifty. The Hon. Wm. R. King, of Alabama, president of the Senate, presided. On his right sat Louis Kossuth, and on his left the Hon. Daniel Webster, Secretary of State. On the right of Kossuth1 at the same table, sat the Hon. Linn Boyd, speaker” of the House of Representatives. Besides other distinguished guests who responded to toasts, are named Hon. Thomas Corwin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior. Also in attendance were Judge Wayne, of the Supreme Court of the United States; Mr. Stanton, of Tennessee; General Shields, Senator for Illinois, Chairman of the Committee of Military Affairs in the Senate; and many other dignitaries of the United States.

NOVELTIES IN AMERICAN REPUBLICANISM

Sir, though I have a noble pride in my principles, and the inspiration of a just cause, still I have also the consciousness of my personal insignificance. Never will I forget what is due from me to the Sovereign Source [referring to the Hungarian people] of my public capacity. This I owe to my nation’s dignity; and therefore, respectfully thanking this highly distinguished assembly in my country’s name, I have the boldness to say that Hungary well deserves your sympathy; that Hungary has a claim to protection, because it has a claim to justice. But as to myself, I am well aware that in all these honours I have no personal share. Nay, I know that even that which might seem to be personal in your toast, is only an acknowledgment of a historical fact, very instructively connected with a principle valuable and dear to every republican heart in the United States of America. As to ambition, I indeed never was able to understand how anybody can love ambition more than liberty. But I am glad to state a historical fact, as a principal demonstration of that influence which institutions exercise upon the character of nations.

We Hungarians are very fond of the principle of municipal self-government, and we have a natural horror against centralization. That fond attachment to municipal self-government, without which there is no provincial freedom possible, is a fundamental feature of our national character. We brought it with us from far Asia a “thousand years ago, and we preserved it throughout the vicissitudes of ten centuries. No nation has perhaps so much struggled and suffered for the civilized Christian world as we. We do not complain of this lot. It may be heavy, but it is not inglorious. Where the cradle of our Saviour stood, and where His divine doctrine was founded, there now another faith rules: the whole of Europe’s armed pilgrimage could not avert this fate from that sacred spot, nor stop the rushing waves of Islamism from absorbing the Christian empire of Constantine. We stopped those rushing waves. The breast of my nation proved a breakwater to them. We guarded Christendom, that Luthers and Calvins might reform it. It was a dangerous time, and its dangers often placed the confidence of all my nation into one man’s hand. But there was not a single instance in our history where a man honoured by his people’s confidence deceived them for his own ambition. The man out of whom Russian diplomacy succeeded in making a murderer of his nation’s hopes, gained some victories when victories were the chief necessity of the moment, and at the head of an army, circumstances gave him the ability to ruin his country; but he never had the people’s confidence. So even he is no contradiction to the historical truth, that no Hungarian whom his nation honoured with its confidence was ever seduced by ambition to become dangerous to his country’s liberty. That is a remarkable fact, and yet it is not accidental; it springs from the proper influence of institutions upon the national character. Our nation, through all its history, was educated in the school of local self-government; and in such a country, grasping ambition having no field, has no place in man’s character.

The truth of this doctrine becomes yet more illustrated by a quite contrary historical fact in France. Whatever have been the changes of government in that great country—and many they have been, to be sure—we have seen a Convention, a Directorate, Consuls, and one Consul, and an Emperor, and the Restoration, and the Citizen King, and the Republic; through all these different experiments centralization was the keynote of the institutions of France—power always centralized; omnipotence always vested somewhere. And, remarkable indeed, France has never yet raised one single man to the seat of power, who has not sacrificed his country’s freedom to his personal ambition!

It is sorrowful indeed, but it is natural. It is in the garden of centralization that the venomous plant of ambition thrives. I dare confidently affirm, that in your great country there exists not a single man through whose brains has ever passed the thought, that he would wish to raise the seat of his ambition upon the ruins of your country’s liberty, if he could. Such a wish is impossible in the United States. Institutions react upon the character of nations. He who sows wind will reap storm. History is the revelation of Providence. The Almighty rules by eternal laws not only the material but also the moral world; and as every law is a principle, so every principle is a law. Men as well as nations are endowed with free-will to choose a principle, but, that once chosen, the consequences must be accepted. , With self-government is freedom, and with freedom is justice and patriotism. With centralization is ambition, and with ambition dwells despotism. Happy your great country, sir, for being so warmly attached to that great principle of self-government. Upon this foundation your fathers raised a home to freedom more glorious than the world has ever seen. Upon this foundation you have developed it to a living wonder of the world. Happy your great country, sir! that it was selected by the blessing of the Lord to prove the glorious practicability of a federative union of many sovereign States, all preserving their State-rights and their self-government, and yet united in one—every star beaming with its own lustre, but altogether one constellation on mankind’s canopy.

Upon this foundation your free country has grown to a prodigious power in a surprisingly brief period, a power which attracts by its fundamental principle. You have conquered by it more in seventy-five years than Rome by arms in centuries. Your principles will conquer the world. By the glorious example of your freedom, welfare, and security, mankind is about to become conscious of its aim. The lesson you give to humanity will not be lost. The respect for State-rights in the Federal Government of America, and in its several States, will become an instructive example for universal toleration, forbearance, and justice to the future States, and Republics of Europe. Upon this basis those mischievous questions of language-nationalities will be got rid of, which cunning despotism has raised in Europe to murder liberty. Smaller States will find security in the principle of federative union, while they will preserve their national freedom by the principle of sovereign self-government; and while larger States, abdicating the principle of centralization, will cease to be a blood-field to unscrupulous usurpation and a tool to the ambition of wicked men, municipal institutions will ensure the development of local elements; freedom, formerly an abstract political theory, will be brought to every municipal hearth; and out of the welfare and contentment of all parts will flow happiness, peace, and security for the whole.

That is my confident hope. Then will the fluctuations of Germany’s fate at once subside. It will become the heart of Europe, not by melting North Germany into a Southern frame, or the South into a Northern; not by absorbing historical peculiarities into a centralized omnipotence; not by mixing all in one State, but by federating several sovereign States into a Union like yours.

Upon a similar basis will take place, the national regeneration of Slavonic States, and not upon the sacrilegious idea of Panslavism [a political and cultural movement originally emphasizing the cultural ties between the Slavic peoples but later associated with Russian expansionism], which means the omnipotence of the Czar. Upon a similar basis shall we see fair Italy independent and free. Not unity, but union will and must become the watchword of national members, hitherto torn rudely asunder by provincial rivalries, out of which a crowd of despots and common servitude arose. In truth it will be a noble joy to your great Republic to feel that the moral influence of your glorious example has worked this happy development in mankind’s destiny; nor have I the slightest doubt of the efficacy of that example.

But there is one thing indispensable to it, without which there is no hope for this happy issue. It is, that the oppressed nations of Europe become the masters of their future, free to regulate their own domestic concerns. And to this nothing is wanted but to have that “fair play” to all, for all, which you, sir, in your toast, were pleased to pronounce as a right of my nation, alike sanctioned by the law of nations as by the dictates of eternal justice. Without this “fair play” there is no hope for Europe—no hope of seeing your principles spread.

Yours is a happy country, gentlemen. You had more than fair play. You had active and effectual aid from Europe in your struggle for independence, which, once achieved, you used so wisely as to become a prodigy of freedom and welfare, and a lesson of life to nations.

But we in Europe—we, unhappily, have no such fair play. With us, against every pulsation of liberty all despots are united in a common league; and you may be sure that despots will never yield to the moral influence of your great example. They hate the very existence of this example. It is the sorrow of their thoughts, and the incubus of their dreams. To stop its moral influence abroad, and to check its spread at home, is what they wish, instead of yielding to its influence.

We shall have no fair play. The Cossack already rules, by Louis Napoleon’s usurpation, to the very borders of the Atlantic Ocean. One of your great statesmen—now, to my deep sorrow, bound to the sick bed of far advanced age [Henry Clay]— (alas! that I am deprived of the advice which his wisdom could have imparted to me)—your great statesman told the world thirty years ago that Paris was transferred to St. Petersburg. What would he now say, when St. Petersburg is transferred to Paris, and Europe is but an appendage to Russia?

Alas! Europe can no longer secure to Europe fair play. England only remains; but even England casts a sorrowful glance over the waves. Still, we will stand our ground, “sink or swim, live or die.” You know the word; it is your own. We will follow it; it will be a bloody path to tread. Despots have conspired against the world. Terror spreads over Europe, and persecutes by way of anticipation. From Paris to Pesth [Pesth; Budapest The capital and largest city of Hungary] there is a gloomy silence, like the silence of nature before the terrors of a hurricane. It is a sensible silence, disturbed only by the thousandfold rattling of muskets by which Napoleon prepares to crush the people who gave him a home when he was an exile, and by the groans of new martyrs in Sicily, Milan, Vienna, and Pesth. The very sympathy which I met in England, and was expected to meet here, throws my sisters into the dungeons of Austria. Well, God’s will be done! The heart may break, but duty will be done. We will stand our place, though to us in Europe there be no “fair play.” But so much I hope, that no just man on earth can charge me with unbecoming arrogance, when here, on this soil of freedom, I kneel down and raise my prayer to God: “Almighty Father of Humanity, will thy merciful arm not raise up a power on earth to protect the law of nations when there are so many to violate it?” It is a prayer and nothing else. What would remain to the oppressed if they were not even permitted to pray? The rest is in the hand of God.

Sir, I most fervently thank you for the acknowledgment that my country has proved worthy to be free. Yes, gentlemen, I feel proud at my nation’s character, heroism, love of freedom and vitality; and I bow with reverential awe before the decree of Providence which has placed my country into a position such that, without its restoration to independence, there is no possibility for freedom and independence of nations on the European continent. Even what now in France is coming to pass proves the truth of this. Every disappointed hope with which Europe looked towards France is a decree more added to the importance of Hungary to the world. Upon our plains were fought the decisive battles for Christendom; there will be fought the decisive battle for the independence of nations, for State rights, for international law, and for democratic liberty. We will live free, or die like men; but should my people be doomed to die, it will be the first whose death will not be recorded as suicide, but as a martyrdom for the world, and future ages will mourn over the sad fate of the Magyar race, doomed to perish, not because we deserved it, but because in the nineteenth century there was nobody to protect ” the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”

But I look to the future with confidence and with hope. Manifold adversities could not fail to impress some mark of sorrow upon my heart, which is at least a guard against sanguine illusions. But I have a steady faith in principles. Once in my life indeed I was deplorably deceived in my anticipations, from supposing principle to exist in quarters where it did not. I did not count on generosity or chivalrous goodness from the governments of England and France, but I gave them credit for selfish and instinctive prudence. I supposed them to value Parliamentary Government, and to have foresight enough to know the alarming dangers to which they would be exposed, if they allowed the armed interference of Russia to overturn historical, limited, representative institutions. But France and England both proved to be blind, and deceived me. It was a horrible mistake, and has issued in a horrible result. The present condition of Europe, which ought to have been foreseen by those governments, exculpates me for having erred through expecting them to see their own interests. Well, there is a providence in every fact. Without this mistake the principles of American republicanism would for a long time yet not have found a fertile soil on that continent, where it was considered wisdom to belong to the French school. Now matters stand thus: that either the continent of Europe has no future at all, or this future is American republicanism. And who can believe that two hundred millions of that continent, which is the mother of such a civilization, are not to have any future at all? Such a doubt would be almost blasphemy against Providence. But there is a Providence indeed—a just, a bountiful Providence, and in it I trust, with all the piety of my religion. I dare to say my very self was an instrument of it. Even my being here, when four months ago I was yet a prisoner of the league of European despots in far Asia, and the sympathy which your glorious people honours me with, and the high benefit of the welcome of your Congress, and the honour to be your guest, to be the guest of your great Republic — I, a poor exile — is there not a very intelligible manifestation of Providence in it ? — the more, when I remember that the name of your guest is by the furious rage of the Austrian tyrant, nailed to the gallows.

I confidently trust that the nations of Europe have a future. I am aware that this future is vehemently resisted by the bayonets of absolutism; but I know that though bayonets may give a defence, they afford no seat to a prince. I trust in the future of my native land, because I know that it is worthy to have one, and that it is necessary to the destinies of humanity. I trust to the principles of republicanism; and, whatever may be my personal fate, so much I know, that my country will preserve to you and your glorious land an everlasting gratitude.

Continuation of Kossuth biography:

In 1832 he was designated a substitute to represent a local noble in the Hungarian Diet (national parliament). Kossuth, a prolific writer and editor, produced a record of the Diet’s proceeding as well as other newspapers and journals. In 1837, his advocacy of political reform and national independence led to his imprisonment for three years by the Austrian government. During his confinement, he taught himself English by studying the Bible and Shakespeare.

After his release from prison in 1840, Kossuth became the editor of the “Pesti Hirlap,” or Pest Journal. The Pest Journal advocated political reform and an independent legislature for Hungary. In 1847 Kossuth was elected to the Diet as a representative of the county of Pest. Kossuth continued to spread his ideas of independence, and individual liberty and made brilliant speeches demanding a constitution for Hungary. In 1848, Kossuth’s campaigns and demands earned Hungary its own separate constitution from Austria. After the new government was formed, Kossuth was named the Minister of Finance. Shortly thereafter, revolution broke out across Europe. On September 28, 1848, after five months of serving as the minister of Finance, he assumed full control of the revolution in Hungary. He gathered, strengthened, and armed his “revolutionary army.” Not satisfied with their autonomous constitution, he demanded his county’s independence from Austrian rule. In the spring of 1849, Kossuth rallied against the Habsburg monarchy. On April 14, 1849, the Hungarian Diet, inspired by Kossuth, proclaimed the complete independence of Hungary from Austria and deposed the Habsburg Dynasty. The Hungarian declaration of independence was influenced by the American document. At the same time the Diet elected Kossuth “governor-president” and charged him to render an account of his actions to the parliament. Hungary was the last bastion of the democratic revolutions of 1848 to remain standing against the forces of absolutism, and Hungarian developments were carefully followed with considerable sympathy by the governments and people of Europe and the United States.

The inability of the Austrian government to reestablish its authority was a great concern to the autocratic government of Russia. Czar Nicholas I offered to aid the Austrians in suppressing the Hungarian revolution and that offer was accepted by the Austrians. As a result the Russian imperial forces, allies to the Austrians, declared war on the Hungarian Republic. The Russian armies brought the revolution to a quick and bloody end.

After his defeat, Kossuth fled to Turkey where he spent two years in exile. The governments of Great Britain, The United States, and other West European nations successfully pressured the Turkish Sultan to refuse Austrian and Russian demands for Kossuth’s extradition. They were able to arrange for his departure from Turkey, and on September 10, 1851, he steamed from the Turkish port of Smyrna (now Izmir) aboard the U. S. Navy’s frigate Mississippi. After brief stops in France and Britain, he arrived in New York City on December 5, 1851, to great public acclaim. His triumphant six-month tour throughout the United States was an unprecedented popular success.

Although Kossuth did not achieve his goal of winning official United States government support and recognition for continuing his struggle for Hungarian independence, his visit did leave a permanent legacy in America. He gave several hundred speeches in all parts of the United States, including separate addresses to both Houses of Congress. During this tour 250 poems, dozens of books, hundreds of pamphlets, and thousands of editorials were written about him and his democratic ideals.

He left the United States after six months, returning to Europe in July 1852 to rally support for the Hungarian cause. He lived for a period of time in London, and eventually settled in Turin, Italy. In exile he continued his efforts for Hungarian independence, but he did not return to Hungary.

Following his death in Turin on March 20, 1894, his body was returned to Hungary, where he was buried amid nationwide mourning. After his death, Kossuth continued as the popular symbol of the aspiration of the Hungarian people for independence.

Today there are many reminders of Kossuth’s impact on the Unites States of America. There are towns with his name in Indiana, Ohio and Mississippi, and a settlement with a Post office in Pennsylvania. Previous to today there were two other full figure Kossuth statues in the United States, in New York City, New York and Cleveland, Ohio.

And, of course, there is Kossuth County, Iowa where the impact of Kossuth is noted throughout the county with the name Kossuth appearing on buildings and streets in all parts of the county. Kossuth County now has the third full figure statue of Lajos Kossuth in the United States. The statue of Lajos Kossuth, being dedicated today, is not only a reminder of the Hungarian struggle for independence but it is also a reminder of our own United States democracy that Lajos Kossuth idealized so much.

Biography source: Kossuth County Iowa; http://www.kossuth-edc.com/community/kossuthbio.htm
Speech Source: Select Speeches of Kossuth; by Lajos Kossuth, Francis William Newman: published 1855

Founder Samuel Adams: The Duty of Citizens in Electing Their Representatives

SamuelAdamsQuotesAmericanDuty

Powerful, stirring, inspirational wisdom from the Founders.

The Duty of Citizens in Electing Their Representatives by Samuel Adams published in in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781

Extract of a Letter from the Southward.

“As we have a Constitution which is admired for its genuine Principles, I have been sollicitous to know, whether our Countrymen at large partook of the Spirit of those who formed it. I have conceived strong Hopes, that in organizing their Government and electing Persons to fill the important Places of Trust, no Consideration would avail, to govern their Suffrages [i.e. Votes] in Favour of any Candidate, unless he was possessed of those Qualities which are necessary, to enable him to perform the Duties of the Office to be filled, to the Advantage of the Publick. I have flattered myself, that both the Governors and the Governed would have lain aside the gawdy Trappings of Monarchy,[gawdy Trappings of Monarchy; i.e. Riches, beauty, extravagance, flowery speeches] and put on that Simplicity which is the Ornament and Strength of a free Republick. How far it has been done, I am not able to judge at this Distance. It is a great Satisfaction to me to be informed, that some of the best Men in the Commonwealth have been elected into the Principal Departments of Government. Men, who will dignify the Character of our Country—who will revive and disseminate those Principles, moral and political, to propagate which, our Ancestors transplanted themselves into this new World—Men who by the Wisdom of their Councils and their exemplary Manners, will establish the public Liberty on the Foundation of a Rock.—These Men will secure to themselves more of the Esteem of their virtuous, and even of their vicious Fellow-Citizens, than they could by a thousand courtly Addresses [i.e. speeches] which are commonly the Breath of Vanity and Adulation.—There is a charm in Virtue to force Esteem.—If Men of a different Character have by any Means been advanced to those hallow’d Seats, who have even sollicited public Employments to give a Scope to Views of Ambition and Avarice, [avarice; i.e. greed, desire for wealth, power] Passions which have in all Ages been the Bane [bane; i.e. ruin, downfall] of human Society; or, to gratify the raging Thirst for popular Applause, a Disease with which little minds are usually tormented, it is our Happiness that the Constitution requires annual Elections, and such Mistakes may be corrected at the next.

“I was sorry to hear, that the Number of Votes returned, the last Time, did not amount to a Quarter of the Number of qualified Electors in the Commonwealth. The Choice of Legislators, Magistrates and Governors, is surely a Business of the greatest Moment, and claims the Attention of every Citizen. The Framers of our Constitution, while they gave due Attention to Political were not forgetful of Civil Liberty—that personal Freedom and those Rights of Property, which the meanest Citizen is intitled to, and the Security of which is the great End of political Society. It was not indeed their Province to make particular Laws for these Purposes. To do this, and to provide for the equal and impartial Execution of such Laws, agreeable to the Constitution, is the Duty of the Legislature. Hence every Citizen will see, and I hope will be deeply impressed with a Sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his Children is connected with it, that those who are to have a Share in making as well as in judging and executing the Laws should be Men of singular Wisdom and Integrity. Such as are conscious that they are deficient in either of these Qualities, should even tremble at being named as Candidates! I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption—the Tool of a Junto [Junto; i.e political group]—Heaven forbid! that our Countrymen should ever be byass’d in their Choice, by unreasonable Predilections [i.e. bias, favoritism] for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution, as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to Persons. [Devotion to persons; i.e. devotion because of who the person is] The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. Let each Citizen remember, at the Moment he is offering his Vote, that he is not making a Present or a Compliment to please an Individual, or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn Trusts in human Society, for which he is accountable to God and his Country.

“When the great Body of the People are determined not to be imposed upon by a false Glare of Virtues held before their Eyes,[i.e. soundbites, speeches, false fronts] but, making up their own Minds, shall impartially give in their Suffrages, after their best Enquiries into the Characters of Candidates, for those whom they judge to be the fittest Persons, there will be no Danger that the generous Enthusiasm of Freedom, so characteristic of the People of Massachusetts, will ever sink into the Violence and Rage of Party, which has often proved fatal to free Republicks.’

TO CALEB DAVIS.
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Philadephia, April 3 1781