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striving to embrace the opportunities offered us of becoming instruments in the hands of Providence for spreading Religion and Virtue through this immense country. With what reproach would our names be transmitted to posterity, should we act as if we had come into this land flowing with Milk and Honey, only to eat and enjoy the fruits thereof; to wrest from the former Lords of the soil the possessions which they have held from age to age; without striving, in return, to better their condition, by Example, by Precept, by every means in our power; diffusing among them all the blessings which a pure Religion, and a temperate System of Laws, can give. In this view of things, and on this solemn occasion, let me therefore sum up all I have to say by entreating you, in the name of God and by the love you profess for your country, to regulate all your conduct by the principles of Truth, Justice and Righteousness... Keep in view the divine Work in which you are called to be Instruments, so far as we seem capable to comprehend the Promises and Revelations of the Almighty. Strive in the first place to preserve your spiritual Liberty, and to resist the Dominion of Sin, adorning your profession by the Purity of your Lives; and then you may hope for a blessing in every effort for the support of your civil Liberty—Let no Acts of Violence, Rashness, Intemperance, or Undutifulness to the country from whence we spring, evern disgrace our cause. And be assured, as I said before, that he is truly the greatest Patriot, and the best man, who, in all his ways, supports the majesty of Religion, reverences the laws of his country, and keeps a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. While you act within this line; while you can carry with you a true conviction that Religion, Justice, Laws divine and human, are on your side, in this great contest; the worst events will not apall you too much; nor the most prosperous elate you into forgetfulness of God. Your zeal will be enlightened, but temperate. The pulse of glory will beat high, but not with a Feverish heat. May the almighty God, therefore, in this day, of his visitation, direct you in all your ways, and speedily give you, “Beauty instead of Sackcloth and Ashes, “ the Oil of Joy instead of Mourning, and the Garment of Praise instead of heaviness of Heart.” Amen.
A FAST SERMON,
PREACHED IN CHESTER CHAPEL,
MAY 3, 1781.
ISAIAH, Iviii. 3
WHEREFORE have we Fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge!
WE are this day assembled, agreeably to the recommendation of the Congress of these United States, as expressed in the following Proclamation, viz. “At all times it is our duty, to acknowledge the over-ruling Providence of the great Governor of the universe, and devoutly to implore His divine favour and protection. But in the hour of calamity and impending danger, when by fire and the sword, by the savages of the wilderness, and by our own domestics, a vindictive enemy pursues a war of rapine and devastation, with unrelenting fury, we are peculiarly excited, with true penitence of heart, to prostrate ourselves before our great Creator, and fervently to supplicate his gracious interposition for our deliverance. The United States in Congress assembled, therefore, do earnestly recommend, That Thursday the third of May next, may be observed as a day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and through the merits of our blessed Saviour, obtain pardon and forgiveness: That it may please Him, to inspire our rulers with incorruptible integrity, and to direct and prosper their councils: To inspire all our citizens with a fervent and disinterested love of their country, and to preserve and strengthen their union: To turn the hearts of the disaffected, or to frustrate their devices: To regard with divine compassion our friends in captivity, affliction and distress, to comfort and relieve them under their sufferings, and to change their mourning into grateful songs of triumph: That it may please him to bless our Ally, and to render the connection formed between these United States and his kingdoms a mutual and lasting benefit to both nations: To animate our officers and forces by sea and land with invincible fortitude, and to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown our joint endeavours for terminating the calamities of war with victory and success: That the blessings of Peace and Liberty may be established on an honourable and permanent basis, and transmitted inviolate to the latest posterity: That it may please Him to prosper our husbandry and commerce, and to bless us with health and plenty: That it may please Him to bless all schools and seminaries of learning, and to grant that truth, justice and benevolence, and pure and undefiled religion may universally prevail.
Frequent have been the days of humiliation, and the fasts which our Rulers, in their Piety, have recommended during a few past years. And once at least every year hath, (if not oftener) beheld the inhabitants, of these states, (in consequence of such recommendation) assembled, and prostrated, before the Lord, in Prayer and Fasting; and now at length, through the impatience of our tempers, the deceitfulness of our hearts, and the weakness of our faith, we are ready, perhaps, to take up the complaint of the Jews, and in the language of despair, instead of the voice of Godly sorrow and repentance, to argue the matter with our great Creator, and to question his goodness and justice in the words of my text— “Wherefore have we fasted and Thou seest not? “Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou “takest no knowledge?” These are awful questions, and which He only to whom they are addressed, can answer; for “known unto Him, (and unto Him only) are all His works and ways from the beginning of the world.” And therefore, since, by his holy prophet, he has vouchsafed an answer to these and such like questions, to the desponding Jews, in circumstances not unlike to our own; we cannot better employ our time, on this solemn occasion, than by considering— First—The answer given by the prophet to these questions of the Jews, and the reasons of the Almighty for the frequent rejecting of their fasts;– Secondly—How far our fasts may be chargeable with the like defects in the sight of a just and all
seeing God? And how, through His grace, our PrayW. Q. L., II, s