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to found the College at Cambridge. The schoolmaster was next in reputation to the civil magistrate and the pastor of the church. Legal provision was made for the support of schools, and public contributions were solicited in the churches for the use of the College. Each family was a little school. They were a reading people. The few books which they possessed, were much valued and carefully preserved. The periodical press was early in operation. The means of knowledge were alike accessible to all. The children of the poor were as freely admitted to the school as the children of the rich. And all persons, whatever their age or state, (infancy, sickness, and decrepitude excepted,) were required to attend on the instructive ordinances of divine worship. Thus their intellectual powers were called into exercise and subjected to discipline, and they became capable of deliberate judgment, and deep research, and active enterprise, and they are entitled to the reputation of an intelligent and educated people.
Did they possess the Bible in their own language? Did they institute the church, in their judgment, according to the simple model of the apostolic age? Did they sanctify the Sabbath with a holy vigilance? Did they uniformly sustain the public, social and domestic worship of God? Let us look more directly at their moral and religious character, and investigate the secret springs of their courage and self-denial. It is the solemn and explicit testimony of ministers, statesmen, and historians, that religion was the grand cause why these colonies were founded; it was not conquest or commerce, the acquisition of territory or wealth. From this uniform testimony, there can be no evasion or dissent. They wished to establish a pure church: they wished to enjoy freedom in their religious worship, without fear of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, and without contamination by superstitious customs: they wished to educate their children in a godly way, and to transmit the spirit and principles of a pure religion to a late posterity. To the accomplishment of these objects their prayers and labors were directed. For these purposes, they wished to settle down alone, and that others of different example or principles would stay away, or choose some other location. This was very natural. Their plans might otherwise be defeated, their dearest hopes be disappointed, and the benign results of their sacrifices and toils be lost. If, in this state of things, they betrayed to some extent a narrow prejudice, a religious bigotry, or an intolerant spirit, it can be easily explained, and may be justly ascribed to the circumstances of the case, and the ordinary imperfection of our nature. While we ought not to magnify the facts, we need not be zealous to deny them. We ought to think of their redeeming qualities, and of the moral sublimity of the enterprise in which they were engaged. Nor ought we to forget that they were much in advance of their cotemporaries in Christian Europe.
What principles of doctrine did they deduce from the Bible? These embraced the being, attributes, and moral government of God, the purity and obligation of his law,-man's native sinfulness, the true and proper deity and humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his atonement and intercession,-the efficiency of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration,—the free and full offers of mercy in the gospel,-the duty of repentance, faith, and personal holiness, and an everlasting state of rewards and punishments beyond the grave. These and similar principles are fully expressed in the 39 Articles of the Episcopal Church, to which they cordially assented, in the Westminster Assembly's Catechism, which they taught their children, and in the sermons and other volumes which they published.
And what was the moral influence of these doctrines on their social and religious character? This is a good test of orthodoxy. And there is no fear in appealing to the opposers of evangelical doctrine for an answer. Where can the community be found on the face of the earth, whose records are stained with so few crimes as the early history of New England? They were eminently conscientious, peaceful and honest: they were humane and compassionate: the persons, property and character of others were sacred they believed that God would call them to give a strict account for their words and actions. Visit their place of religious concourse on the Sabbath, and witness all the people punctually and devoutly assembled to worship God, to sing his praise, to make confession of sin, to implore mercy in the Saviour's name, to read the Scriptures, and to exhort one another to love and good works. Resort to their houses, and witness the domestic worship, the tender affection of parents and the filial duty of children, the respectful subordination, mutual love, and social virtue of all the members. Go through the villages, and no profane words are heard, and no acts of drunkenness or violence are seen, and few or no crimes are reported. There are no prisons, penitentiaries or alms-houses. The people do not lock up their barns or bolt their doors at night. Industry, order, competence and contentment prevail. "We think more," says one of their number, "of going home to heaven, than of going back to old England."
II. What are some of the advantages which flow to us from such an ancestry?
Much depends on the ancestry of a people in respect to their literary and political, their social and moral state. A community is one continuous chain in its successive generations.
It is little to say that we inherit the lands which our fathers cultivated, that we gather fruit from the trees which they planted,
that we occupy houses which they built, and travel roads which they assisted to render smooth. The sweat of their brow adds to our daily comforts, and the labor of their hands contributes to our subsistence. They commenced works, which we only extend, improve or complete. While the prominent features of our country, its capes and islands, its mountains, lakes and rivers, are those which the Creator's hand impressed upon it, the hand of man has done much to hew away the forests, to gather out the stones and enrich the soil. Nor should we fail to acknowledge a kind Providence in fixing our location at a distance from any hostile, rapacious or powerful nation. Oceans, gulfs and mountains mark our boundary.
Our republican form of government, and the impartial administration of an equitable system of laws, make one portion in the legacy bequeathed from our fathers. To their wisdom and patriotism is it to be ascribed, that our government is not an hereditary monarchy or an aristocracy, and that our land is not subject to continual disorder and misrule. An elective Republic places all power in the body of the people, who intrust the exercise of it to men of fidelity and discretion for the common good. Every office is open to any individual at the election of the majority of his fellow citizens. Trial by jury is an important feature in this system. Prejudice or bribery or injustice is guarded against as effectually as possible. Personal liberty, safety and the enjoyment of the fruits of our labors are secured. Taxation is contemplated no further than it is indispensable to provide for the poor, to sustain schools, and to defray the inevitable expenses of the government established and chosen by the people. Under a system of laws, so mild, so equal and so salutary, a people may well be content, grateful and prosperous.
Free schools, which bring the elements of a good education within the reach of all the children, is another portion of our fair inheritance. This system is simple in its structure, but uniform, universal and efficient in its operation. Its parallel is hardly to be found in the legislation of the world. The outline of it needs no amendment, but the practical application is doubtless capable of many improvements. It is to the common school that the body of the people owe their intelligence, taste for reading, and talent for business. No one can estimate the power of this simple machinery. It was early instituted, and it appears to be destined to move forward with increasing efficiency. In connection with the schools, there are many other facilities for acquiring knowledge, as the circulating library, the periodical press, the popular lecture, and the great multiplication of books, scientific, instructive and religious.
The church of Christ, with its ordinances, is another portion
of our inheritance. The fathers established churches with their first settlement on these shores. They took their households to the place of worship on each returning Sabbath. They provided for the support of an able, devout and intelligent ministry. They expected that the priest's lips would teach knowledge. They waited at the gates of wisdom with reverence and prayerfulness. The word of God was read and expounded, hymns of praise were sung, prayers offered, and the sacraments administered. These services were renewed every Sabbath, and from year to year. No one, in the present state of being, can tell how salutary and how widely extensive and how deeply operative, is this system of divine ordinances. The conscience becomes enlightened, the understanding enlarged, the heart subdued, and the passions restrained. Saints are confirmed and sinners are converted. Thousands of minds are strongly affected from Sabbath to Sabbath. These means of knowledge and salvation, divinely ordained and approved, do much to mould and stamp the character of a people. And to the pure and salutary influence of this divine system were we subjected in our early years. Much of our talent and moral virtue may be traced to this source. Nor should we think this item overrated, if we could look into the actual condition of pagan lands. Truth is pure, but error is contaminating: idolatry renders base and abject, but Christianity elevates.
In this connection, the Bible is entitled to a distinct notice, as a part of our inheritance. How many parents, who could do little more, have given it to their children, as they assembled around the dying bed, or as they went forth into the world from under parental care! Like Timothy, we have from our childhood been taught to read "the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." This volume contains the law of God, as revealed to men. It opens the invisible world. Philosophers, statesmen and kings, have made it the subject of profound research. It is a prudent counsellor, a safe guide. Who, that knows its value, would resign his Bible? It guides the believer in the pilgrimage of life, and comforts him in the prospect of death.
The example of our fathers is another portion of our inheritance. Being dead, they yet speak." Why did they live such a life? Why did they cross the ocean, and enter this wilderness? Why did they sacrifice the conveniences of home, take leave of dear friends, and often renounce worldly possessions? Why did they endure privation, danger, and hardship? Why did they found schools and institute churches, and defend their civil and religious rights? Let us analyze their principles and motives of action. We shall find that their example of self-denial, philanthropy, patriotism, and courage, is highly instructive. And on the princi
ple of assimilation, if we look at it with steady and admiring gaze, we shall gradually imbibe the same spirit, and be disposed to pursue the same course. The example of those whom we love and venerate, is contagious; and if we cultivate a due respect to our ancestors, it will be easy to acquire some resemblance to their image.
To these, we may add their prayers for their children to many generations. At an early period, prayer to God, morning and evening, was nearly universal in every family. Those who neglected it, had little reputation for intelligence or character. This service is a bond of union, a means of order, a source of knowledge it conduces to domestic harmony, strengthens mutual attachment, and renders parental government easy. To bow together before God, to read his laws, to implore his mercy, with a frequent meditation on the event of death and the retributions of eternity, cannot fail to give to this service a restraining and subduing power. Besides this daily prayer in the family with and for their children, they often assembled for mutual exhortation and counsel. They occasionally observed whole days with fasting and special prayer for the revival of piety among the young. They believed that God had established a covenant with his true people, and made rich promises to their posterity, if obedient and faithful. They professed to enter into solemn covenant with God, to dedicate their children in the ordinance of baptism to his service, engaging to instruct and govern them in his fear, and pleading his promises of grace and mercy towards them. In the baptism of every child, parental sympathy was enlisted, and covenant obligations renewed. And if we believe that God hears and remembers the prayers of his people, how rich a portion is this in our inheritance. Thousands of prayers may stand on record against our names. Who, that is not an infidel or an apostate, will not value such a birth-right above any earthly treasure?
A good land, a republican government and free institutions,the school, the Bible, the ministry and the church,-a pure example, wise instructions and devout prayers,-baptismal consecration and covenant-relationship,-are portions of our inheritance. A miracle alone can dissolve the connection between parents and their children, by which without our virtue or voluntary agency these benefits are entailed upon us. "Whose are the fathers."
III. Why is such an ancestry entitled to our remembrance? Filial affection imposes the duty: They are worthy: A remembrance of them will be useful to ourselves and to our successors, and be honorable to God.
Filial affection imposes the duty. They labored and suffered