« PreviousContinue »
BIBLE AND THE SWORD:
APPOINTMENT OF THE GENERAL FAST
IN AN ADDRESS TO
THE COMMON PEOPLE.
The Royal Proclamation, which has been lately issued out, shews that the hopes expressed in a late pub. lication & were well-grounded. The heart of every good, unprejudiced man, must rejoice at reading this truly Christian decree:-“ We, &c., command that a Publie Fast and Humiliation be observed throughout England, upon Friday, December 13, so that both we and our people may humble ourselves before Almighty God, in order to obtain pardon of our sins; and may in the most devout and solemn manner send up our prayers and sup. plications to the Divine Majesty, for averting those heavy judgments, which our manifold sins and provoca. tions have justly deserved ; and for imploring his intervention and blessing speedily to deliver our loyal sub. jects,” &c.—The sovereign acts herein the part of a Christian prince, and of a wise politician. As a Chris.
American Patriotism confronted, &c. p. 167.
tian Prince he enforces the capital duty of National Repentance; and as a wise politician he averts the most formidable stroke which Dr. Price has aimed at his government. May we second his laudable designs by acting the part of penitent sinners and loyal subjects ; though mistaken patriots should pour floods of contempt upon us on the occasion.
It would be strange, if an appointment, which has a direct tendency to promote piety, to increase loyalty, and to baffle the endeavours of a disappointed party, met with no opposition. If we solemnly keep the fast, we must expect to be ridiculed by the men, who imagine that liberty consists in the neglect of God's law, and the contempt of the king's authority. The warm men who have publicly asserted, that his last speech from the throne is full of insincerity, daily insinuate that his proelamation is full of hypocrisy, and that it will be as wrong in you to ask a blessing upon his arms, as to de. sire the Almighty to bless the arms of robbers and murderers. Nor are there few good men among us, who think that it is absolutely inconsistent with Christianity to draw the sword and proclaim a fast.
Lest the insinuations of such patriots and professors should cast a damp upon your devotion, and make you leave the field of national prayer to our revolted Colonies, I beg leave to remind you of a similar case, in which God testified his approbation of a fast connected with a fight; yea, with a bloody civil war.
We read in the book of Judges, that certain sons of Belial,' belonging to the city of Gibeah,' in the land of Benjamin, "beset a house ;' obliged a Levite who lodged there, “to bring forth a concubine to them; and they knew her, and abused her all night' in such a manner, that, 'she died' in the morning. The Levite complained of this cruel usage to the eleven tribes.
6 All the men of Israel were gathered,' on this occasion, against the inhospitable city of Gibeah, and sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you ? Now, therefore, deliver us, the sons of Belial, who are in Gibeah, that we may put
light-headed, would ye not treat them with an indul. gence suitable to their deplorable case? And would pot natural affection concur with reason, to make you overlook the petulance and wildness of their beha. viour? Ye will extend your mercy to your American subjects with double readiness, if ye consider, that they are not all guilty. A few warm men among them open the flood-gates of patriotic licentiousness; and whilst the fierce and roaring torrent frightened myriads into a temporary compliance to revolt; it carried away myri. ads more before they knew what they were about. Nor have they perhaps had it yet in their power to recollect themselves. Vouchsafe, then, to shew yourselves their tender physicians, as well as their indulgent parents ; nor heal their moral fever by burning corrosives, so long as there is the least prospect of doing it by cooling applications. If Christianity commands us to restore, in the spirit of meekness, those that are fallen, to become weak to the weak, yea, to become all things to all men, that by all means we may gain and save some;' be abundantly condescending to your American people, that you may save thousands of precious lives, prevent the devastation of your own dominions, and disappoint your enemies, who flatter themselves, that, when Great Britain and her Colonies shall have exhausted their strength in a destructive war, the British empire, or some part of it, will become an easy prey to their greedy and watchful ambition.
But I peculiarly address thee, Thou majestic Head, and executive Hand, of the legislative power. By thy steadiness, thou hast shewn thyself a king worthy of commanding a people, who display lions in their standards. And now, like : Messiahı, the Prince,' like the generous · Lion of ihe tribe of Judah,' vouchsafe to shew thyself “ the Prince of peace.' Let all the earth know, that thou art a representative of the God of all grace, and of the Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world.' Is not the right of shewing mercy to the con. demned, the noblest of all thy royal prerogatives, and the brightest jewel of thy imperial crown? Oh! let
that jewel shine in this cloudy day, and it will reflect the light of the “ Sun of righteousness' across the Atlan. tic, and cheer the western world. The proclamation of a general pardon, accompanied by the grant of a direct representation, and of a security for the equitable pro. portion, which their taxes shall always bear to ours ; -such a proclamation, I say, enforced by the sound of thy trumpets, the roar of thy cannons, the sight of thy feets, and the terror of thy armies, will shew, that thou art eminently qualified to reign over a brave and free people. Thou mayest thus be merciful without weak. ness. A Lee and a Washington are resolute enough to stand for a time the shock of thy forces : An Adams and an Hancock are obstinate enough to bury themselves in the ruins of their country. But, resolute and obsti. nate as they are, thy mercy confounds—thine indulgence disarms them. The paroxysm is over.—Candour and loyalty return together.—The fiery heroes come back to sober heroism ; and the rash patriots, to true patriotism. -Thy royal mercy has melted them into tears.-With shame they fix their weeping eyes on the ground ; with admiration they lift them up to heaven.—They claim the honour of bringing in person the restitution-money thou insistest upon for thy injured subjects. They haste to throw themselves at the feet of a sovereign, who knows how to protect, conquer, and pardon.--My ima. gination sees them cross the Atlantic:-They enter your gates :—They throw American swords at your feet :
They ask pardon for themselves, and the guilty people I they represent:- They kiss the royal hand, which has
averted their impending ruin, and pour out their grateful souls in such words as these :
“ Merciful and great king, and ye, his legislative assessors, permit us to distinguish ourselves by our peni. tential return, as we once did by our rash revolt. With feelings proportionable to the sense we have of our guilt, of the king's mercy, and the parliament's condescension, we lament our misapprehensions; and deploring the bloodshed which they have caused, we acknowledge that we owe you the reasonable taxes due to the supreme, protecting power, by the consent of all civilized nations, and by the express command of God; and since you condescend to grant us the privilege of a share in your legislature, we will not only religiously, but cheerfully pay them for the time to come. In the mean while, we refund at your feet sums equivalent to the goods, which our rash citizens buried in the sea; and we own it is just, that we should, in due proportion, help to discharge the national debt, which has been in part contracted for our protection, and which our unhappy revolt has of late so greatly increased. Made wiser by our misfortunes, and taught both to revere and love our mother country, we shall, at every proper opportunity, express our grateful sense of her parental regard. We are indeed separated by the Atlantic ocean, which we lately looked upon as a boundary to your dominions, a vast moat to keep us asunder, and a rampart to defend our Continent against your incursions : But now our views are changed, and we consider that wide sea as a magnificent channel, which Divine Providence seems to have prepared, to facilitate our friendly and commercial intercourse ;-to enrich our respective countries with the treasures of the old and new world ;-to make us live in a constant exercise of the art of navigation,--and enable us, by these means, powerfully to support the British claims to the empire of the sea.-Such are the pleasing thoughts we have of our happy re-union. May they appear delightful to all, who wish well to the British empire ! And may the poisonous breath of discord, more dan. gerous than all the storms of the Atlantic, never break the sweet calm, which royal mercy and parliamentary condescension have restored to