Item of the Day: Gordon’s Thanksgiving Discourse (1775)

Full Title:

Mr. Gordon’s Thanksgiving Discourse.  A Discourse Preached December 15th 1774.  Being the Day Recommended by the Provincial Congress; and Afterwards at the Boston Lecture.  By William Gordon.  Pastor of the Third Church of Roxbury.  Boston:  Printed for, and sold by Thomas Leverett, in Corn-Hill.  1775.

From Lam. III. 22.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his companions fail not.

The pulpit is devoted, in general, to more important purposes, than the fate of kingdoms, or the civil rights of human nature; being intended, to recover men from the slavery of sin and satan–to point out their escape from future misery, through faith in a crucified Jesus–and to assist them in their preparations for eternal blessedness:  But still, there are special times and seasons when it may treat of politics.  And surely, if it is allowable for some who occupy it, by preaching up the doctrines of non-resistance and passive obedience, to vilify the principles, and to sap the foundations of that glorious revolution, that exalted the house of Hanover to the British throne; it ought to be no transgression in others, nor be construed into a want of loyalty, to speak consistently with those approved tenets, that have made George the third, the first of European sovereigns, who otherwise, with all his personal virtues, might have lived an obscure Elector. 

Having then, the past morning of this provincial thanksgiving, accommodated the text to the case of individuals, I shall now dedicate it, according to its original intention, to the service of the public, the situation of whose affairs, is, both distressing and alarming.

The capital of the colony is barbarously treated, pretendedly for a crime, but actually, for the noble stand she has made in favor of liberty, against the partisans of slavery.  She has distinguished herself by an animated opposition to arbitrary and unconstitutional proceedings; and therefore has been markt out, by ministerial vengeance, to be made an example of, whereby to terrify other American cities into a tame submission.  She is an example–and, thanks to heaven! an example of patience and fortitude, to the no small mortification of her enemies, whose own base feelings led them to imagine, that she would immediately become an abject supplicant for royal favour, tho’ at the expence of natural and charter’d rights.  May some future historian, the friend of mankind and citizen of the world, have to record in his faithful and ever-living page, that she never truckled, though British sailors and soldiers, contrary to their natural affection for the cause of liberty, were basely employed to intimidate her; but perseveringly held out, through the fiery trial, ’till a revolution of men and measures brought on her deliverance!

But it is not the capital alone that suffers.  The late venal Parliament, in compliance with the directions of administration, have, under the false colour of regulating the government of the colony, mutilated its charter, and conveyed dangerous power to individuals, for the enforcing and maintaining those encroachments, that they have ventured, in defiance of common equity, to make upon the rights of a free people.–And had not the calmness and prudence of others supplied their lack of wisdom, the country might by this time have become an Aceldama.

Upon the principles, which the British legislature have adopted in their late extraordinary proceedings, I see not, how we can be certain of any one privilege–nor what hinders our being really in a state of slavery to an aggregate of masters, whose tyranny may be worse than that of a single despot–nor that a man can with propriety say, his soul’s his own, and not the spring to move his bodily machine, in the performance of whatever drudgery his lords may appoint–nor that the public have a permanent and valuable constitution.  If the British legislature is the constitution, or superior to the constitution, Magna Charta, the bill of rights, and the protestant succession, these boasts of Britons, are the toys to please the vulgar, and not solid securities[…]

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Posted by Matthew Williams, Religion, Revolution, Sermons, United States

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