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Political Sermons of the American Founding Era 1730-1805

In Two Volumes

Ellis Sandoz

Publication Year: 2012

The early political culture of the American republic was deeply influenced by the religious consciousness of the New England preachers. Indeed, it was often through the political sermon—the "pulpit of the American Revolution"—that the political rhetoric of the period was formed, refined, and transmitted. And yet the centrality of religious concerns in the lives of eighteenth-century Americans is largely neglected. This has created a blind spot regarding the fundamental acts of the American founding.

Political sermons such as the fifty-five collected in this volume are unique to America, both in kind and in significance. This volume thus fills an important need if the American founding period is to be adequately understood.

Ellis Sandoz is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Eric Voegelin Institute at Louisiana State University.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Volume One

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. xi-xxii

Inspiration for this collection of sermons came over a number of years as I did research on the American founders' political philosophy. I discovered that the "pulpit of the American Revolution"—to borrow the title of John Wingate Thornton's 1860 collection—was the source...

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

Thanks are due, for permission to reprint materials in their collections, to the Doheny Library of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, for one item (no. I7); to the Massachusetts Historical Society of Boston for one item (no. I9); to the American...

Editor's Note to the 1998 Edition

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pp. xxv

Editor's Note

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pp. xxvii-xxxii

Bibliographic Note

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pp. xxxiii-xxxviii

Chronology 1688-1773

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pp. 3-6

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1. Government the Pillar of the Earth [1730]

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pp. 7-24

The words are part of a raptrous and heavenly song, utter'd by a devout, inspir'd and transported mother in Israel, upon a great and joyful occasion. If the Divine Eternal Spirit please to inspire and speak by a gracious woman, it is the same thing to us, and requires...

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2. Nineveh's Repentance and Deliverance [1740]

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pp. 25-50

In this book we have a very memorable and instructive history. The prophet Jonah, whose name the book bears, was call'd of God to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian monarchy, and cry against it: He criminally attempted to fly from the presence of the Lord, by going to Joppa, and...

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3. The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants [1744]

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pp. 51-118

I now give you my thoughts on the questions you lately sent me. As you set me the task, you must take the performance as it is without any apology for its defects. I have wrote with the usual freedom of a friend, aiming at nothing but truth, and to express my self so...

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4. Britain's Mercies, and Britain's Duties [1746]

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pp. 119-136

Men, brethren and fathers, and all ye to whom I am about to preach the kingdom of God, I suppose you need not be informed, that being indispensably obliged to be absent on your late thanksgiving-day, I could not shew my obedience to the Governor's proclamation...

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5. Civil Magistrates Must be Just, Ruling in the Fear of God [1747]

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pp. 137-177

The last words of good men are commonly tho't worthy of particular notice; especially, if they are great as well as good, of an elevated station as well as character in life. This is a consideration that adds weight to my text. For it is enrolled among the last...

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6. The Mediatorial Kingdom and Glories of Jesus Christ

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pp. 179-206

Kings and kingdoms are the most majestic sounds in the language of mortals, and have filled the world with noise, confusions, and blood, since mankind first left the state of nature, and formed themselves into societies. The disputes of kingdoms for superiority have set...

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7. The Presence of God with His People [1760]

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pp. 207-230

The occasion of this divine message to King Asa, and his army, was the compleat victory, which, thro' help of God, and in answer to humble, believing prayer, they had very lately obtained over the huge and formidable army of Aethiopians, who had invaded their...

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8. The Snare Broken [1766]

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pp. 231-264

Did not a wide ocean intervene, the author of the ensuing discourse would not presume to prefix so great a name to a little performance of his, without first humbly requesting the indulgence, and obtaining it. Nor would he trust to the sufficiency of that apology for taking this...

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9. An Humble Enquiry [1769]

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pp. 265-299

Though few or none claim infallibility in express terms, yet it is very difficult ever to persuade some men they are mistaken. We generally have so good an opinion of our own understanding, that insensibly we take it for granted those that do not think as we do must needs...

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10. An Oration Upon the Beauties of Liberty [1773]

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pp. 301-325

When I view the original right, power and charter, confirm'd, sealed, and ratified to the province, or inhabitants of Rhode-Island, and its standing in full force, and unrepealed for more than an hundred years, which is as follows: "Be it enacted, that no freeman, shall be...

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11. An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty [1773]

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pp. 327-368

Inasmuch as there appears to us a real need of such an appeal, we would previously offer a few thoughts concerning the general nature of liberty and government, and then shew wherein it appears to us, that our religious rights are encroached upon in this...

Chronology, 1774-1781

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pp. 369-372

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12. Scriptural Instructions to Civil Rulers [1774]

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pp. 373-407

The ensuing discourse was delivered on a very solemn occasion, before an auditory apparently serious and devout in their attention; and is now made public at the desire of some of my public spirited friends. Such as it is, I cheerfully offer it as my poor mite, into the...

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13. A Calm Address to our American Colonies [1775]

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pp. 409-420

In order to determine this, let us consider the nature of our colonies. An English colony is, a number of persons to whom the king grants a charter, permitting them to settle in some far country as a corporation, enjoying such powers as the charter grants, to be administered...

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14. A Constitutional Answer to Wesley's Calm Address [1775]

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pp. 421-438

But the colonists were a number of persons, who fled from tyranny at home, to conquer and cultivate new countries at their own expence. From the parent state, for above a century, they received little or no assistance: their monopolized commerce was, at last, thought...

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15. America's Appeal to the Impartial World [1775]

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pp. 439-492

At a time when we are called upon to surrender our liberties, our religion, and country; or defend them at the point of the sword, against those, that were our friends, our brethren, and allies (whose swords, and ours, till lately were never drawn but for mutual...

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16. The Church's Flight into the Wilderness: An Address on the Times [1776]

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pp. 493-527

This prophetic book is entitled, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which he sent and signified to his servant John, by his angel; and which he received when in a state of banishment, in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. It...

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17. The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men [1776]

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pp. 529-558

There is not a greater evidence either of the reality or the power of religion, than a firm belief of God's universal presence, and a constant attention to the influence and operation of his providence. It is by this means that the Christian may be said, in the...

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18. The Bible and the World [1776]

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pp. 559-580

In this hour of tremendous danger, it would become us to turn our thoughts to heaven. This is what our brethren in the colonies are doing. From one end of North America to the other, they are fasting and praying. But what are we doing? Shocking thought! we are ridiculing them...

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19. God Arising and Pleading his People's Cause [1777]

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pp. 581-605

When David, the inspired penman of this psalm, was greatly distressed, unjustly blam'd on account of the Amalekites invading, spoiling, and burning Ziklag; and carrying away captive the women that were therein, and when the people talked of stoning him on that...

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20. Divine Judgments Upon Tyrants [1778]

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pp. 607-626

That there is a God, "is the prime foundation of all religion." We should therefore employ our utmost diligence to establish our minds in the stedfast belief of it. For when once we have firmly settled in our minds the belief of God's being, it will mightily influence all...

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21. A Sermon on the Day of the Commencement of the Constitution [1780]

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pp. 627-656

Nothing can be more applicable to the solemnity in which we are engaged, than this passage of sacred writ. The prophecy seems to have been made for ourselves, it is so exactly descriptive of that important, that comprehensive, that essential civil...

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22. A Sermon Preached at Lexington on the 19th of April [1781]

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pp. 657-681

Though God, (for wise reasons, best known to himself) has permitted sin to enter into the world; yet, we may be sure, he will not suffer the purposes of his goodness to be frustrated by it; but will, in some way or other, over-rule this worst of evils, for good; and...

Chronology, 1782-1788

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pp. 683-686

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23. A Dialogue Between the Devil, and George III, Tyrant of Britain [1782]

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pp. 687-710

My trusty servants Bute and Mansfield, have educated thee for my service, and taught thee the way wherein thou shouldst go, obey them and I will make thee a king indeed; make yourself absolute, or die in the attempt: a king dependent on the people...

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24. Defensive Arms Vindicated [1783]

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pp. 711-770

Much might be said, were it necessary, for the dedication of books unto persons of worth, interest, service, and honour, by reason it has been the almost constant practice of the best and wisest men, in all the ages of the world. Besides, sir, a performance of this nature could...

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25. A Sermon Preached on a Day of Thanksgiving [1784]

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pp. 771-788

An event of such magnitude and importance, as that which has occasioned our convening to day, accomplished in so short a space of time, and with so small a share of difficulty in comparison of what might have been expected, is one of those occurrences in the kingdom...

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26. A Sermon on Occasion of the Commencement of the New-Hampshire Constitution [1784]

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pp. 789-813

It is with diffidence I appear in this place, on the present great occasion, before such an assembly. Nothing, besides the respect I owe to the supreme legislative of this state, could so far have overcome the sense of my own insufficiency, as to induce me to comply...

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27. A Sermon Preached Before a Convention of the Episcopal Church [1784]

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pp. 815-834

In this very adventurous and inquisitive day, when men spuming their kindred-earth, on which they were born to tread, will dare, on airy (or baloon) wing to soar into the regions of the sky; were it the pleasure of our Almighty Creator to purge any of us mortals of...

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28. The Dangers of our National Prosperity; and the Way to Avoid Them [1785]

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pp. 835-863

These words contain a divine instruction to the people of Israel, respecting their state of prosperity in the promised land. The instruction is not typical or merely local, but of a moral and universal nature. It may therefore with propriety, be applied to all people in...

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29. A Sermon on a Day Appointed for Publick Thanksgiving [1787]

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pp. 865-881

Our relation to God, as a people redeemed by his hand and preserved by his care, as a people enjoying his oracles and professing obedience to his laws, is so similar to theirs, that we may justly apply to ourselves what was here spoken to them. I shall therefore consider my text in accommodation to our own case...

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30. The Dignity of Man [1787]

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pp. 883-907

David closed the scene of life, with that propriety of conduct, and that composure of mind, which at once displayed the beauty of religion, and the dignity of human nature. When the time of his departure drew nigh, he had nothing to do to prepare for death, but...

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31. The Principles of Civil Union and Happiness Considered and Recommended [1787]

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pp. 909-940

Jerusalem was a city, defended with strong walls, the metropolis of the kingdom of Israel, and the capital seat of the Hebrew empire. It's inhabitants were not a loose, disconnected people, but most strictly united, not only among themselves, but with all the tribes of...

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32. The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States [1788]

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pp. 941-967

I think myself happy that, after reiterated invitations from this honourable court, I am at length permitted by divine providence, though under peculiar difficulties, and in the decline of life, to appear in this place, and speak on this public occasion, when the principal...

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33. A Century Sermon on the Glorious Revolution [1788]

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pp. 969-1000

This grand and noble song (the first we find in the sacred writings), celebrates a most astonishing event. The children of Israel went down into Egypt, and had there increased from about seventy persons, to near three millions, in two hundred and fifteen years; and...

Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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Chronology, 1789-1794

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pp. 1001-1004

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34. A Discourse on the Love of our Country [1790]

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pp. 1005-1028

In these words the Psalmist expresses, in strong and beautiful language, his love of his country, and the reasons on which he founded it; and my present design is, to take occasion from them to explain the duty we owe to our country, and the nature, foundation...

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35. The African Slave Trade [1791]

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pp. 1029-1055

The churches of Galatia consisted principally of Jewish converts, who were engaged to incorporate the Mosaic ritual with the Christian profession. They boasted, at the same time, "We be Abraham's children, and were never in bondage." With great address and pertinency...

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36. A Sermon Delivered at the Annual Election [1791]

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pp. 1057-1078

We have numbered more than twenty-seven years since your opposition to a foreign system of heavy oppression began. The year I764 has been rendered memorable, on the one side by the folly and injustice of a hated stamp-act, and, on the other...

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37. The Rights of Conscience Inalienable [1791]

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pp. 1079-1099

There are four principles contended for, as the foundation of civil government, viz. birth, property, grace, and compact. The first of these is practised upon in all hereditary monarchies, where it is believed that the son of a monarch is entitled to dominion upon the...

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38. A Sermon for the Day of General Election [1792]

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pp. 1101-1127

How vanous and transcendent are the excellencies of the sacred writings! They combine all the different species of literary composition in their highest perfection, and consecrate them to the moral improvement, the present and future happiness of man. They...

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39. A Sermon Preached Before the Artillery Company [1793]

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pp. 1129-1147

All scripture is written for our instruction. It is intended not only to reveal to us the purposes of God's mercy and the requisitions of his will, but to furnish our minds with the wisdom which is profitable to direct us in the various situations to which by Providence...

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40. A Sermon on the Anniversary of the Independence of America [1793]

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pp. 1149-1167

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...

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41. An Oration in Commemoration of the Independence of the United States of America [1793]

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pp. 1169-1183

The return of this anniversary hath reminded us, my respected fellow-citizens, of an event full of wonders, and pregnant with consequences important, not to this country only, but to mankind. Called again to felicitate you on this memorable day, I feel myself...

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42. The Necessity of the Belief of Christianity [1794]

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pp. 1185-1216

In this passage of sacred scripture, that people is pronounced happy, whose God is the Lord. But what is the meaning of the expression, "whose God is the Lord?" or when may it be truly said, that the God of any people is the Lord? The answer is, when they...

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43. The Wonderful Works of God are to be Remembered [1794]

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pp. 1217-1234

The works of God are usually distinguished into those of creation, and those of providence. By the former, we understand the stretching forth and garnishing of the heavens, the forming and replenishing of the earth, and the originating of the present order...

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44. The Revolution in France [1794]

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pp. 1235-1299

In the progress of the French Revolution, candid men find much to praise, and much to censure. It is a novel event in the history of nations, and furnishes new subjects of reflection. The end in view is noble; but whether the spirit of party and faction, which...

Chronology, 1795-1805

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pp. 1301-1304

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45. Manifestations of the Beneficence of Divine Providence Towards America [1795]

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pp. 1305-1320

There are few situations more interesting to the human race, than that which the people of America this day presents. The temples of the living God are every where, throughout this rising empire, this day, crowded, I trust, with...

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46. Sermon Before the General Court of New Hampshire at the Annual Election [1797]

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pp. 1321-1338

In the great scale of beings, mankind hold a dignified station. The human mind, capable of improvement, under advantageous cultivation, progresses in knowledge and refinements, honourary in their nature, and ornamental in their consequences. Individuals...

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47. A Discourse, Delivered at the Roman Catholic Church in Boston [1798]

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pp. 1339-1361

In the words just read, the inspired apostle inculcates on us the two important duties of prayer and thanksgiving, which the President of the United States invites us all to perform on this day. We have need to pray for the pardon of our sins, as a nation...

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48. The Duty of Americans, At the Present Crisis [1798]

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pp. 1363-1394

This passage is inserted as a parenthesis in the account of the sixth vial. To feel its whole force it will be necessary to recur to that account, and to examine it with some attention. It is given in these words...

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49. A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of Washington [1809]

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pp. 1395-1414

In these words David refers to Abner, a distinguished officer of his day, who fell an unsuspecting victim to the well-known traitorous scheme, and by the bloody hand of Joab, whose brother Asahel, to save his own life, Abner had reluctantly slain in a battle at...

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50. On the Evils of a Weak Government [1800]

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pp. 1415-1446

When we read and hear such threatening predictions as this; and see our judges as at the first, and our counsellors and governors as at the beginning-equally wise and good; we are ready to bless ourselves, and to say in our hearts, These things shall not come...

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51. The Voice of Warning to Christians [1800]

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pp. 1447-1476

If a manly attempt to avert national ruin, by exposing a favorite error, should excite no resentment, nor draw any obloquy upon its author, there would certainly be a new thing under the sun. Men can seldom bear contradiction. They bear it least when they...

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52. A Solemn Address to Christians and Patriots [1800]

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pp. 1477-1528

I am not an admirer of dedications, nor will you, sir, be flattered by the following. Your present situation, and the nature of the subject upon which I am about to remark, have rendered it proper that the ensuing observations should be particularly inscribed to yourself...

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53. Overcoming Evil With Good [1801]

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pp. 1529-1554

You will at once recognize these precepts as being peculiar to our holy religion. However different they may be from the suggestions of flesh and blood, however contrary to the habits of unholy men or to the temper and practice of the world, on candid examination...

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54. An Oration in Commemoration of the Anniversary of American Independence [1802]

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pp. 1555-1569

It is the glory of nations, as it is of individuals, to increase in wisdom, as they advance in age, and to guide their concerns, not so much by the result of abstract reasonings, as by the dictates of experience. But this glory is no more the uniform felicity...

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55. A Sermon, on the Second Coming of Christ [1805]

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pp. 1571-1596

Vanous and voluminous are the treatises, with which the christian world has been burdened for ages past, respecting the two grand and interesting doctrines evidently involved in the text before us: I say burdened, because it is an acknowledged fact that after all...


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pp. 1597-1734

Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9781614878599
E-ISBN-10: 1614878595
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865971813

Page Count: 1779
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None