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peal to experience and fact, those great detectors of human errors, for an answer. They declare with great folemnity, that " in those times there was no peace to him that went out nor to him that came in ; but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries ; and nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city; for God did vex them with all adversity."
This is no more than what might be reasonably expected : For when a people give up their religion, and renounce the authority of God, they will not hesitate to overleap all bounds of law and morality, and destroy one another.
From this brief specimen it appears, that the social order and happiness of a community depend essentially on the influence of moral principle ; and we may venture to say, should this be destroyed, exterior force can never supply its place. Without it, we shall never practice that “righteousness which exalteth a nation ;'. but shall inevitably fall into those 6 fins which are the reproach of any people.”
There never has been a people, since the tribes ranfomed from Egyptian bondage, under greater obligations to their God than we are; and should we bafely apostatize from our holy religion, and use our liberty only for a cloke of maliciousness, we must expect some chosen curse will pursue us to final ruin.
But in a world like this, neither innocency nor uprightness will always preserve a people from the defigns of avarice and ambition.
We, therefore, add 3d, Another mean of preserving our liberty and of promoting our prosperity is the power we poffefs of defending ourselves.
Without the means of self-defence, the liberties of a people can never be safe. A state of weakness always invites aggression. Ambitious men feldom want a pretext to plunder and destroy such as have not the power of resistance. Popular governments have been supposed less capable of self-defence, than those of a monarchical form; because it is thought to be more difficult to collect their energies, and direct them to any certain point. Hence the destiny of our Republic has often been predicted by the fate of others. It has been supposed that the seeds of mortality are fown in the constitution of all Republics, that they grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength, and that their early dissolution follows of course. But this is not true as applied to them in particular. No human government is exempt from disaster and change. Should it be afked, where are those republics of Greece and Rome, which make such a figure in ancient history ? In reply, I would ask, where are those mighty monarchies which were raised on their ruins ? The Grecian republics, retained their freedou for seven centuries; whereas the monarchy, which by the arms of Alexander was extended over great part of the known world, scarcely outlived its founder. The republic of Rome, after the expulsion of Tarquin, maintained its liberties for five hundred years. Nor did the empire, though one of the most powerful and despotic that ever existed, continue longer. It commenced nearly with the christian era, was divided in the beginning of the 4th century, by Constantine, and in the fifth, wholly fubverted, and a barbarous Chieftain feated on the
throne of the Cæfars. The causes which brought on the ruin of Sparta, Carthage, and Rome itself, are too well known to require a recital on this oca casion.
It must here be remembered, however, that our republic differs essentially, in its constitution and genius, from all others, both ancient and modern. Had the Grecian states, instead of their Amphictyon Council, formed a permanent government like ours, they could not have been practised upon separately, and ruined by the insidious arts of Philip, of Macedon. But, my brethren, we are blessed with a government which combines energy with freedom. God hath also put in our power ample means of defence; and we may hope, under the auspices of an indulgent Providence, long to enjoy our prea cious privileges.
When we look back to that perilous moment when we first assumed the attitude of felf-defence, and compare our present situation and resources with what they then were, gratitude and joy rush in upon our souls, and constrain us to say, “ the Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
We are by the providence of God, at this time, in the honorable and quiet possession of a country of vast extent and fertility. Our soil, luxuriant as the land of Nile ; and our atmosphere, pure as that which surrounded the famed Helicon. The wide Atlantic laves our eastern board, and forms one barrier to the progress of invasion ; and at the same time wafts to our shores the fruits and treafures of every clime. On its bays and inlets our ancient towns and cities are planted. Here, the
busy multitude throng; and trade, and commerce collect their immense stores of wealth. Here, ele. gance and refinement unite their powers, to please the imagination and improve the heart.
On the west, the Missippi rolls in majestic grandeur ; and by receiving the waters of the Ohio into its bosom, opens à communication of vast extent into those fertile regions. Here, the wilderness is turned into a fruitful field, and golden harvests smile in the rays of a setting fun.
of a setting fun. Where the Savage lately pursued his nimble chase, we now behold large towns and flourishing villages, adorned with temples sacred to religion, and crowded with devout and adoring worshippers of the LAMB.
No considerable part of our extensive territory, but what is capable under the hand of cultivation, of yielding subsistence for man.
Were we to rise with the morning sun, and trav. el on its rays round the globe, we should not find a nation more distinguished by its blessings than our own. Every uneafy thought therefore must be deemed ingratitude, and every murmur rebellion against heaven.
Should a foreign enemy attempt to invade our
untry, he would meet a phalanx of veterans more impenetrable than walls of granate. Our dependance is not on foreign auxiliaries or mercenary aid; but under God, we rely on the skill and bra. very of our own citizens. Do we need fhips of war ? Our own immense forests, our forges and work-shops furnish the materials; and our skilful artizans construct them in a manner, equal, if not superior to any which float on the bosom of the
deep. Indeed, every article neceffary in the whole apparatus of war, is, or may be furnished by our. selves. It is not then to be believed, that five mill.
ions of people, breathing the air of freedom and tasting her joys, inured to hardy enterprize, and lords of the soil they cultivate, can ever be conquer. ed by any foreign foe, unless the stars in their cour. ses fight against them.
With such immense and increasing resources, our only danger arises from the abuse of our liberty, which was the last thing in the method to be at: tended to. Permit me briefly to observe on two or three
particulars. The right of private judgment, or what is commonly called libercy of conscience, is one of our dearest privileges. This right is unalienable ini its nature. For the enjoyment of this, our forefathers left their friends and country, and fought an asylum in this then howling wilderness. But precious as this privilege is, it is liable to abuse. A very malicious design may be concealed under the cloke of religious liberty. It is to be feared that many, under this pretence, are in reality opposing and endeavouring to destroy all religion. Some by denying, others by corrupting its important doctrines and institutions. This is an abuse too for which there is no legal remedy. It seems to be beyond the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. According to our context, his power extends only to the punishment of evil doers, and not erroneous or heretical opinions. He that undertakes to decide on another's fincerity, ought certainly to know his heart; otherways, in attempting to root out these tares, he will be in danger of destroying the wheat. D