Imágenes de páginas

ministry shall continue to enforce their claims by viołence, a lafting and bloody contest must be expected : Surely then it becomes those who have taken up arms, and profess a willingnefs to hazard their lives in the cause of liberty, to be prepared for death, which to many muft be the certain, and to every one is a possible or probable event.

We have long feen with concern, the circumstances which, occafioned, and the gradual increase of this un. happy difference. As ministers of the gospel of peace, we have ardently wished that it could, and often hoped that it would have been more early accommodated. It is well known to you (otherwise it would be imprudent indeed thus publicly to profefs) that we have not been instrumental in inflaming the minds of the people, or urging them to acts of violence and disorder :-Perhaps no instance can be given on so interesting a subject, in which political sentiments have been so long and fo fully kept from the pulpit, and even malice itself has not charged us with laboring from the press; but things are now come to such a state, that as we do not wish to conceal our opinions as men and citizens, so the relation we stand in to you seemed to make the present improvement of it to your fpiritual benefit an indifpenfible duty. Suffer us then to lay hold of your present temper of mind, and to exhort, especially the young and vigorous, by assuring them, that there is no foldier so undaunted as the pious man, no army fo formidable as those who are fuperior to the fear of death. There is nothing more awful to think of, than that those whose trade is war fhould be despisers of the name of the Lord of hoits, and that they should ex. pose themselves to the imminent danger, of being immediately sent from curfing and cruelty on earth, to the blafpheming rage and despairing horror of the infernal pit. Let therefore every one, who from generosity of spirit, or benevolence of heart, offers himself as a champion in his country's caufe, be perfuaded to reverence the name, and walk in the fear of the Prince of the kings of the earth, and then he may, with the most unfhaken firmness, ex: pect the issue either in victory or death,

Let it not be forgotten, that though for the wise ends of his Providence, it may please God, for a season, to suffer his people to lie under unmerited oppression, yet in general we may expect, that those who fear and serve him in fincerity and truth, will be favoured with his countenance and strength. It is both the character and the privilege of the children of God, that they call upon him in the day of trouble, and he, who keepeth covenant and truth forever, has said, that his ears are always open to their cry. We need not mention to you in how many instances the event in battles, and success in war, have turned upon circumstances which were inconsiderable in themselves, as well as out of the power of human prudence to foresee or direct, becaụse we suppose you firmly believe, that after all the counsels of men, and the most probable and promising means, the Lord will do that which seemeth him good; nor hath his promise ever failed of its full accomplishment; “ the Lord is with you while ye be with him, and if ye “ seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, ? he will forsake you,” 2 Chron. xy. 2.

After this exhortation, which we thought ourselves called upon to give you at this time, on your great interest, the one thing needful, we shall take the liberty to offer a few advices to the societies under our charge, as to their public and general conduct; and

First, In carrying on this important struggle, let every opportunity be taken to express your attachment and refpect to our sovereign king George, and to the revolution principles, by which his august family was feated on the British throne. We recommend, indeed, not only allegiance to him from duty and principle, as the first magif. trate of the empire, but esteem and reverence for the per- . son of the prince, who has merited well of his subjects on many accounts, and who has probably been misled into the late and present measures by those about him ; neither have we any doubt, that they themselves have been in a great degree deceived by false information from interested persons residing in America. It gives us the greatest pleasure to say, from our own certain knowledge of all belonging to our communion, and from the best means of infor. mation, of the far greatest part of all denominations in this country, that the present opposition to the measures of administration does not in the least arise from difaffec. tion to the king, or a desire of separation from the parent state. We are happy in being able with truth to affirm, that no part of America would either have approved or permitted such insults as have been offered to the fove. reign in Great Britain. . We exhort you, therefore, to continue in the same disposition, and not to suffer oppreffon or injury itself easily to provoke you to any thing which may seem to betray contrary sentiments : let it ever appear, that you only desire the preservation and se. curity of those rights which belong to you as freemen and Britons, and that reconciliation upon these terms is your most ardent desire.

Secondly, Be careful to maintain the union which at presents subfifts through all the colonies ; nothing can be more manifest than that the success of every measure de. pends on its being inviolably preserved, and therefore, we bope, that you will leave nothing undone which can promote that end. In particular as the Continental Congress, now fitting at Philadelphia, consist of delegates chofen in the most free and unbiassed manner, by the body of the people, let them not only be treated with respect, and encouraged in their difficult service-not only let your prayers be offered up to God for his direction in their proceedings--but adhere firmly to their resolutions; and let it be feen that they are able to bring out the whole ftrength of this vast country to carry them into execution. We would also advise for the fame purpose, that a spirit of candor, charity and mutual esteem be preserved, and promoted towards those of different religious denominations. Persons of probity and principle of every profession, should be united together as fervants of the same master, and the experience of our happy concord hitherto in a Itate of liber. ty should engage all to unite in support of the common in. terelt ; for there is no example in hisory, in which civil liljerty was destroyed, and the rights of conscience prefer. ved entire.

Thirdly, We do earnestly exhort and beseech the focieties under our care to be strict and vigilant in their private government, and to watch over the morals of their feveral members. It is with the utmost pleasure we remind


that the last Continental Congress determined to discourage luxury in living, public diversions, and gaming of all kinds, which have fo fatal an influence on the morals of the people. If it is undeniable, that universal profligacy makes a nation tipe for divine judgments, and is the natural mean of bringing them to ruin, reformation of manners is of the utmost neceffity in our present distress. At the same time, as it has been observed by many eminent writers, that the censorial power, which had for its object the manners of the public in the ancient free states, was absolutely necessary to their continuance, we cannot help being of opinion, that the only thing which we have now to supply the place of this is the religious discipline of the several sects with respect to their own members ; so that the denomination or profession which shall take the most effectual care of the instruction of its members, and maintain its discipline in the fullest vigor, will do the most essential service to the whole body. For the very fame reason the greatest service which magistrates or perfon in authority can do with respect to the religion or morals of the people, is to defend and secure the rights of conscience in the most equal and impartial manner.

Fourthly, We cannot but recommend, and urge in the warmest manner, a regard to order and the public peace ; and as in many places, during the confusions that prevail, legal proceedings have become difficult, it is hoped, that all persons will conscientiously pay their just debts, and to the utmost of their power ferve one another, fo that the evils inseparable from a civil war may not be augmented by wantonness and irregularity.

Fifthly, We think it of importance, at this time, to recommend to all of every rank, but especially to those who may be called to action, a spirit of humanity and mercy, Lvery battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood. It is impossible to appeal to the sword without being exposed to many sceses of cruelly

and slaughter ; but it is often observed that civil wars are carried on with a rancor and spirit of revenge much great. er than those between independent states. The injuries received or fuppofed in civil wars wound more deeply than those of foreign enemies; it is therefore the more necessary to guard against this abuse, and recommend that meekness and gentleness of spirit, which is the noblest attendant on true valor. That man will fight most bravely, who never fights till it is necessary, and who ceafes to fight as soon as the necessity is over.

Lastly, We would recommend to all the societies un. der our care, not to content themselves with attending de voutly on general fast, but to continue habitually in the exercise of prayer, and to have frequent occasional voluntary meetings for solemn interceflion with God on the important trial. Those who are immediately exposed to danger need your sympathy; and we learn from the scrip tures, that fervency and importunity are the very characters of that prayer of the righteouss man which availeth much.

We conclude with our earnest prayer, that the God of heaven may bless you in your temporal and spiritual concerns, and that the present unnatural dispute may be fpeedily terminated by an equitable and lasting fettlement on conftitutional principles.

« AnteriorContinuar »