A sermon on the anniversary of the independence of america

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Revmitchell, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Samuel Miller
    NEW-YORK
    1793


    And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.

    II. Corinthians, iii. 17.
    In contemplating national advantages, and national happiness, numerous are the objects which present themselves to a wise and reflecting patriot. While he remembers the past, with thankfulness and triumph; and while he looks forward, with glowing anticipation, to future glories, he will by no means forget to enquire into the secret springs, which had an active influence in the former, and which, there is reason to believe, will be equally connected with the latter.
    These ideas naturally arise, in the mind of every American citizen, especially on this anniversary of our country’s natal hour. While we review, with gratitude and exultation, the various steps which have paved the way for our political advancement, we are obviously led to search for the happy principles, which laid at the foundation of these—and while we suffer fancy to draw aside, for a moment, the veil which covers futurity, and to disclose its bright scenes, we cannot overlook the same objects, on the extension and farther influence of which, we are to build our hopes.

    We have convened, indeed, principally to celebrate the completion of another year of freedom to our western world. We are to keep this day as a memorial of the time which gave rise to the precious privileges we enjoy, as a sovereign and independent people. It may, therefore, be imagined, that our only proper employment, on the present occasion, is, to take a retrospect of the interesting scenes, which that glorious æra presented to the mind, and to recount the noble atchievements, which, under the direction of infinite wisdom, laid the foundation of our prosperity and happiness. But why should our chief attention be directed toward these objects? They are objects, indeed, upon which to gaze, delight and elevate the patriotic mind. They are objects, which, to lose sight of, is to forfeit the character of a faithful citizen. But, at the same time, they are objects too familiar to all present to need the formality of repetition. I address many of those who were near witnesses of these stupendous transactions; and not a few who were agents in the important work. Whose hearts burn [1154] within them, at the recollection of events, which the world beheld with amazement: and who view with transport, the political greatness which these events were the means of ushering in, and establishing in our country.
    In an audience of this description, then, where is the necessity of my trespassing on your patience, by a bare recital of what is so well known, and so feelingly remembered? Where is the need of my attempting, with minute care, to call up to your view, the patriotic and wise management of our counsels, in those trying times—the fortitude and enthusiastic ardor of our heroes—the splendor of our conquests—or the dignity and glory to which we are exalted by the supreme Arbiter of nations? Rather let us turn our attention to the grand Source, from which we are to expect the long continuance, and the happy increase of these invaluable gifts of heaven.

    And to this choice of a subject I am also led by the recollection, that the respectable society to which this discourse is, in a particular manner, addressed, hold up, as the great object of their attention, every thing that may tend to promote the progress of civil liberty, and to transmit it, pure and undefiled, to the latest posterity. They profess to stand as guardians over those inestimable rights and privileges, which have been so dearly purchased, and, in general, to seek, in every form, the advantage of their country. To an association established upon such laudable principles, nothing that is included in these great outlines of their system, can be considered either as foreign to their plan, or beneath their attention. Nothing can be considered entirely inapplicable to their designs, in celebrating this auspicious day, that is, in any degree, connected with the promotion of public dignity and happiness.

    It is under this impression, my fellow citizens, that I propose, on the present occasion, to offer you a few general remarks on the important influence of the Christian religion in promoting political freedom. And, as the foundation of these remarks, I have chosen the words which have just been read in your hearing.

    I am well aware, that these words, taken in their proper sense, have a principal reference to liberty of a different kind from that to which I would accommodate and apply them. They refer to that glorious deliverance from the power, and the ignoble chains of sin and satan, which is effected by the Spirit of the Lord, in every soul, in [1155] which his special and saving influences are found. They point out, also, that release from the bondage of the legal administration, which the gospel affords to all who receive it in sincerity and truth. But, as I am persuaded the proposition contained in our text is equally true, whether we understand it as speaking of spiritual or political liberty, we may safely apply it to the latter, without incurring the charge of unnatural perversion.
    The sentiment, then, which I shall deduce from the text, and to illustrate and urge which, shall be the principal object of the present discourse, is, That the general prevalence of real Christianity, in any government, has a direct and immediate tendency to promote, and to confirm therein, political liberty.
    This important truth may be established, both by attending to the nature of this religion, in an abstract view; and by adverting to fact, and the experimental testimony with which we are furnished by history.

    That the corrupt passions and the vices of men, have, in all ages of the world, been the grand source and support of tyranny, and of every species of political and domestic oppression, is a truth too well known, and too generally admitted, to require formal proof, on the present occasion. A moment’s reflection on the nature of tyranny, and of those dispositions in the constituent members of society, which lead to its origin and advancement, is sufficient to convince every unprejudiced mind, that human depravity is the life and the soul of slavery. What was it that first raised this monster from the infernal regions, and gave him a dwelling among men, but ignorance, on the one hand, and on the other, ambition and pride? These his complotters and associates, proceeding in a state of indissoluble connection, have always held up his deformed head, and wielded his iron rod. Together they have invariably come into being—together they have lived and flourished—and into one common grave have they sunk at last.

    The truth is, that political liberty does not rest, solely, on the form of government, under which a nation may happen to live. It does not consist, altogether, in the arrangement or in the balance of power; nor even in the rights and privileges which the constitution offers to every citizen. These indeed, must be acknowledged to have a considerable effect in its promotion or decline. But we shall find, on a close [1156] inspection, that something else is of equal, if not of greater importance. Cases may easily be conceived, where, without a single material or glaring deficiency in any of these, true and desirable liberty may be almost unknown: and, on the other hand, where, under the most wretched organization of government, the substance of freedom may exist and flourish. Human laws are too imperfect, in themselves, to secure completely this inestimable blessing. It must have its seat in the hearts and dispositions of those individuals which compose the body politic; and it is with the hearts and dispositions of men that Christianity is conversant. When, therefore, that perfect law of liberty, which this holy religion includes, prevails and governs in the minds of all, their freedom rests upon a basis more solid and immoveable, than human wisdom can devise. For the obvious tendency of this divine system, in all its parts, is, in the language of its great Author, to bring deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to undo the heavy burthens; to let the oppressed go free; and to break every yoke. But to be more particular—
    The prevalence of real Christianity, tends to promote the principles and the love of political freedom, by the doctrines which it teaches, concerning the human character, and the unalienable rights of mankind; and by the virtues which it inculcates, and leads its votaries to practice. Let us take a hasty view of each of these—

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/817
     

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