Page images
PDF
EPUB

the most tender folicitude, over his counfels, actions, and fortunes; protecting him from every weakness or contingence, which might either defeat his projects, or tarnish his glory. With refpect to him, Providence feemed to fay to misfortune and to malice, TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED, AND DO

MY SERVANT NO HARM.

ઃઃ

CORRESPONDING with this divine patronage were the tokens of human confidence and admiration. With respect to these, this favorite of Heaven was a matchlefs, though diftant Representative of HIM, who claims the unbounded confidence and admiration of the univerfe. To borrow the words of PRESIDENT ADAMS at the commencement of our federal government-" If we look over the catalogue of the first magistrates of nations, "whether they have been denominated prefidents or confuls, kings or princes; where shall we find one, who has fo completely united all hearts ❝ and all voices in his favor; and who enjoyed the esteem and admiration "of foreign nations and fellow citizens with equal unanimity ?" The fame well informed and excellent judge both of men and things, though himself the first in station, and ranking high in the public efteem, yet with equal fincerity and greatness of mind pronounces his departed brother "the most illustrious, admired, and beloved perfonage, which the country "ever produced."

THIS preeminent glory was exceedingly heightened by the temperate fenfibility, with which it was received and supported; by the disinterested and patriotic use, to which it was applied; by that unaffected piety, which conftantly transferred to the Deity the honor of all our national bleffings, and devoutly resorted to Him for their continuance; by that oppressed modefty, which a second time eagerly withdrew from the gaze of public admiration to the fhade of rural retirement; and by that enlightened paternal affection, which on retiring bequeathed to America and the world. an invaluable treasure of political and moral wisdom.

с

BUT the climax of human greatness was not yet completed. In the evening of a long, toilfome, and glorious day, he again dutifully refigns his comfort and fame to the anxieties and contingences of a military employment. He defcends from the honors and habits of our first citizen to a fubordinate station. He fupports and even enjoys the elevation of the Man, who had long occupied under him a secondary department, and lends to his great measures his own important approbation and efficiency. How magnificent the fpectacle! How ineftimable the example! How infpiring the event! On this eminence he stood, when like Mofes on the top of Pifgah, he was fuddenly translated, as we all believe, to celestial and eternal honors.

THIS event, fo mournful to our world, realizes to the utmost that dark fhade in the portrait of earthly Gods-BUT YE SHALL DIE LIKE MEN, Death fhall reduce you to a level with vulgar mortals. Ye fhall die, not as the beafts that perifh, but, like other men, as accountable and immortal beings, who muft inherit the juft and everlasting recompenfe of their prefent conduct.

THY death, O virtuous fage, has indeed linked thy fate to that of mortals. Yet thy dying, as well as living greatness, has raised thee above the ordinary level. It has proclaimed thee a Chriftian Conqueror. It has visibly exemplified and fealed thy future glory. It has confecrated thy character, instructed thy fellow men, and honored thy God.*

Do any afk, why thofe, whom God himself has thus exalted, are subjected to the same lot with the meanest and even vilest of our race? The

*No judicious reader will understand the above expreffions, as implying that mere fortitude, or even tranfport in the hour of death, is a certain evidence of vital christianity, or sure pledge of future felicity. This would be a very loose and dangerous affertion. But fuch dying compofure, as our WASHINGTON exhibited, when preceded by fuch a life, a life too exprefsly and uniformly governed by the principles of revealed religion, may well be ftyled chriftian magnanimity; and to the eye of faith and charity it appears the harbinger of celestial glory.

anfwer is, the former, as well as the latter, inherit both the moral and physical causes of death. These causes, by a just and neceffary influence, terminate in diffolution. This catastrophe cannot be prevented by the greatest combination of courage and policy, of power and fame, of virtue and usefulness. It cannot be averted by the united prayers and tears of a nation or a world. The moral good, which this allotment is fitted to produce, is beyond calculation. A ferious profpect of death and its consequences teaches thofe, who are called gods, a fober estimate, a virtuous and beneficent use of their mental and exterior dignity. It inftructs them to erect the fabric of their greatness on the broad and durable base of fuperior goodness; which alone can give them peace in death, and glory beyond it. It teaches the multitude to regard the higher powers with a veneration and confidence, tempered by fympathy and candor for their human imperfections and burdens, and by a folemn fenfe of their uncertain continuance and approaching fate. As the expected removal of the great ones of the earth is thus pregnant with useful instruction, so their actual decease fulfils the most extensive purposes of good. It arrefts and consigns to merited infamy and punishment, those baleful monsters, who, by abufing great powers, have corrupted, oppreffed, or defolated the world; and whom the arm of human juftice was unable to reach. It transplants to a happier region thofe eminent minifters of Divine Goodness, whose talents, virtues, and fervices could not be fully matured and rewarded in this inhofpitable and unthankful world. It advances them to fpheres of employment and fruition, equal to their fublime capacities and difpositions, fuited to their peculiar geniuffes and habits, and forever enlarging with their active and immortal spirits.

WHILE the death of the great and good thus enhances their dignity, happiness, and usefulness in the empire of JEHOVAH; it impresses many excellent lessons on the surviving inhabitants of the earth. Let me briefly apply this remark to the present occafion.

By fuddenly removing from us fuch a man, as WASHINGTON, at a crifis like the prefent, how forcibly does the Supreme Ruler teach us hist OWN SOVEREIGNTY and INDEPENDENCE, and inculcate the duty of implicit and entire submission to his disposals! How pathetically does he admonish us of the vanity of human glory and dependence! How earnestly does he call us to feek and confide in a FRIEND, who can never forfake us! How folemnly does he exhort us to show both our piety and patriotism by fecuring to our beloved country and posterity his own almighty and unfailing protection!

WHEN perfons uncommonly eftimable and greatly beloved afcend from earth to Heaven, how strongly are our affections carried upward with them! How powerfully are we incited to prepare for a speedy and everlasting junction with fuch great and virtuous fpirits! With what rapture do we anticipate the day, which will unite us to their fociety! What fublime ideas do we form of that world, which is their native element, their eternal home! Thefe impreffions are greatly heightened if fuch characters rife to that invisible abode in the vigor of their endowments and services, while their glory is fresh and complete. As their removal amid fuch circumftances forbids the fuppofition, that virtue and ability so strong, progreffive, and useful are fuddenly extinguished; fo it impreffes a peculiar conviction both of the reality and excellence of their future destination. In this view we perceive a special beauty and utility in the sudden translation of ENOCH in the midst of vigorous piety and goodness; in the departure of MOSES, while the force and patriotic exertion of his bodily and mental energies were as yet unabated; and in the exit of WASHINGTON in the full splendor of his talents, virtues, and fame.

WHAT then remains, but that we celebrate the ILLUSTRIOUS DEAD With that grief and joy, humility and thanksgiving, emulation and improvement, which fuch a life and death are fitted to produce?

LET our forrow and mutual condolence bear fome due proportion to the greatness of our lofs. Let us mourn the heavy bereavement, which liberty and order, science and religion, America and the world, have sustained by the death of their common Friend and Protector. Let us respectfully fympathize with our Prefident, who has loft his early brother and firmest support; with our federal government, which fo greatly owed its existence, preservation, and fuccefs, to the name and efficiency of Washington; with the American Union, which, in critical periods, found him its chief and effectual cement; with the military forces of our country, of which he was the directing and animating spirit, while his fingle prefence and reputation furrounded us with walls and bulwarks.

AMID numberless objects of sympathy we see ONE, which rivets and almost appropriates our respectful, our tendereft grief. THE WIFE OF WASHINGTON! What a charm does that found convey! Difconfolate, yet dignified woman! We love and revere thee, both for thy own fake, and for the fake of thy departed Husband. His foul, while he lived, was divided between thee and us. He was equally amiable, as thy Partner and our Benefactor. We thank thee for thy foothing attentions to Him, while wearing out his life for us. We thank thee for thy tenderness and greatness at his death. Thou haft indeed profited by his example. In thee America still fees and embraces her WASHINGTON. May the sublime idea of his past virtues and present reward; may the tears and eulogies of grateful millions; may the peculiar presence of his and thy God; may the dear hope of fhortly rejoining him in his glorified state, descend into thy afflicted heart, as the refreshing dew on the mountain of Zion!

WHILE We thus lament our deceased Patriot; let us notice, with pious humiliation, the rebuke of Providence in fuddenly withdrawing fo great a bleffing; and acknowledge, with penitence, that national ingratitude and guilt, which had forfeited its continuance. Let us view, with awful concern, the gap, which this event has opened for the entrance of public

« PreviousContinue »