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obedience to the due exercise of the authority of the British parliament, is lost. People indeed generally apprehend some of their most important civil rights and privileges to be in great danger; and that several of them cannot be enjoyed under the execution of certain acts, lately passed in the parliament of Great Britain. How far these apprehensions are just, is not my province to determine. Nor shall I pretend fully to point out the political causes of our unhappiness; or the steps which are necessary to be taken, for the redress of our grievances.
This matter more immediately belongeth to you, our honored fathers. If we suffer by being misrepresented to our most gracious sovereign, or to his ministry, it is your part to remove the burtful influence hereof, in such ways, as you shall think most proper and decent. It is yours, to set the temper and conduct of this people in a just light before the throne. It is yours, to carry their cries, and tears, and humble petitions thither. It is yours, to plead their cause, with "right words," which are forcible," and "words of truth," which must, which will prevail.
The ministers of religion will unite their endeavors, to investigate and declare, the moral cause of our troubles. We should endeavor, my reverend fathers and brethren, and I trust we have been endeavoring, to direct the eye of our people to the hand of God, in the evils which are come upon us, and which threaten us. "Is there any evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Amos iii. 6. Are not these calamities to be viewed, as tokens of the divine displeasure against us, on account of our sins? Is it not a day, in which we ought to "cry aloud and not spare, to show our people their transgressions and their sins?" Isa. lviii. 1. Should we not most importunately call them to repentance and reformation, as the only way, in which we can expect the removal of our difficulties? It hath probably been the fault of this people, in these days of darkness and doubtful expectation, that they have fixed their thoughts too much on second causes, without duly regarding the first-that they have been too ready to censure the conduct of others, without making proper reflections on their own. Hath not God reason to complain of us, as he did of Israel, in a day of calamity; "I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright. No man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?" Jer. viii. 6.
The prospect at this day is indeed dark: The darkest part of it arises from the decay of religion, and the prevalence of wickedness among us. Is it not too evident to be denied, that "iniquity greatly abounds," and that "the love of many" to God and religion, "is waxen cold?" Must we not own that by our sins, we have forfeited all our privileges, into the hands of God; though I trust not, into the hands of men? And are not many
of the evils we suffer, the natural and necessary, as well as moral effects of our vices? Is it possible a people should be happy, when pride, and extravagance, luxury, and intemperance abound among them? Will not poverty and disease, uneasiness and contention, naturally spring from these vices? Doth not the providence of God loudly call on all orders of men, to unite their most vigorous endeavors, to check the growth of the sins which I have mentioned, and of others which might be named; such as the profanation of God's name,* and day; uncleanness; and acts of violence, injustice, and oppression. We confide in the wisdom and fidelity of our rulers, to make and execute good and wholesome laws for the suppression of these vices; and for the encouragement of industry, frugality, and temperance, and all those virtues which constitute and adorn the Christian character; and to add life and energy to law, by their own good example. And I hope we shall all, in our several stations, most heartily abet the important design. Our temporal salvation, under God, depends upon it. A virtuous people will always be free and happy.
"Righteousness exalteth a nation." Could we see people in general, humbling themselves under the mighty hand of God, in the evils that are come upon us-could we see a general disposition in them to break off from their sins by righteousness, and from their iniquities by turning to the Lord-could we see practical piety and religion prevailing among all ranks of men-how much would the prospect brighten up? God would appear for us, "who is the hope of his people, and the saviour thereof in the day of trouble." Jer. xiv. 8. And "if God be for us, who can be against us?" Rom. viii. 31. He can work deliverance for us in a thousand ways to us unknown. Then our peace shall be as a river, when our righteousness is as the waves of the sea. Mutual harmony and affection shall be restored between Great Britain and her colonies, and between all orders of men in them. The burdens under which we groan shall be removed. We shall no longer be so unhappy, as to be suspected of wanting loyalty to our king, or of having the least disposition to refuse a constitutional subjection to our parent country. The great evils which we now suffer, in consequence of such groundless suspicions, shall be removed. We shall sit quietly under our vines and figtrees, enjoying the fruit of our fathers' unremitting labors, and of our own, and have none to make us afraid. We shall behold our settlements extending themselves into the yet uncultivated lands. "The wilderness shall become a fruitful field, and the desert shall
* If God's holy name is, at this day, too frequently and sometimes irreverently invoked, even in a judicial manner, every sincere friend to virtue and religion, must wish to have this practice, so affrontive to the Deity, and so destructive to the morals of the people, discontinued.
blossom as the rose." Our navigation shall be freed from its present embarrassment; and trade recover a flourishing state. Our rights and privileges shall be established on a firmer basis than ever. Every revolving year shall add something to the glory and happiness of America. And those that behold it shall see occasion to say, "Happy art thou, O people! Who is like unto thee, saved of the Lord! The shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thine excellency !" Deut. xxxiii. 29.
Whose breast doth not burn with desires to see his dear native land in such state, the happy reverse of its present one! Who would not be ambitious of contributing something towards it! This we have all power to do. Let us up, and be doing, and the Lord shall be with us.
But Christianity, my respectable hearers, which we profess, carries our thoughts beyond this present state of things. This life is but the preface of our existence. Affairs will never be in so happy a situation in it, as we could wish for. It is not agreeable to God's universal plan of government, that we should here be free from every pricking brier and grieving thorn. We are too apt to lay our account for refined happiness in this life. Frequent disappointments are necessary to teach us our error, and to wean us from the vanities of time and sense. This is the salutary effect of our troubles; and when we find it in ourselves, we should acknowledge the kindness of Heaven in permitting them.
A few days will close the present scene with us all. We must quit our stations, be they higher or lower. We must bid adieu to this world, and enter into the eternal one. There an endless circle of happiness, infinitely greater than can be derived from the most prosperous state of things here, is provided-provided by the mercy of God, through the mediation of Christ-provided for all, who repent and believe the gospel-for all, who act their part well on the stage of the present life-who serve God and their generation faithfully, according to his will.
Be this the object of our principal hopes, and desires! Let us continue patient in the ways of well doing; seeking for glory, honor and immortality; till, through the riches of God's grace in Christ, we be crowned with eternal life.
OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF
MRS. HANNAH RICHARDS,
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 8TH OF FEBRUARY, 1770,
IN THE 83D YEAR OF HER AGE.
DELIVERED THE LORD'S DAY AFTER HER INTERMENT.
BY JASON HAVEN, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN SAID TOWN.
"Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."-Heb. xiii 7.
PRINTED BY RICHARD DRAPER, IN NEWBURY STREET.