John H 1766-1851 Stevens.

A discourse, delivered in Stoneham (Mass.) April 8, 1813. Being the day of the state fast online

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Online LibraryJohn H 1766-1851 StevensA discourse, delivered in Stoneham (Mass.) April 8, 1813. Being the day of the state fast → online text (page 1 of 2)
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DISCOURSE,



.-riJ"^'"''*



DELIVERED IN / t? /^



STONEHAM, f-^^^sj APRIL 8, 1819.



BEING



THE DAY OF THE STATE FAST.



By JOHN H. STEVENS, V. D. M.

.CASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN SAID TOWN.



PUBLISHED BY DESIRE OF THE HEARERS.



BENNINGTON, F/.

?RINT£D BY DARIUS CLARK, 3i. CO.

1813.




.$'?3



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3 7 it



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DISCOURSE.



; Judges v. 23.

Curse ye Mcroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye nit-
tcily the inhabitants ihtreof ; because they came not to the
help of the Lord, io rlie hel^ of the Lord against the mighty.

^LL scrijiture is given by ins/iiration of Goti^ and is /trfji/a-
ih for du^rine^for reproof ^ for corrtdion^ jor imtiuHion in
righteousness.

The passage I first read, we find recorded in the song com"
•posed l)y D.Darah, an inspired prophetess, and judge in Is-
•ratl. She composed and sung this song in con^equciue o\ d
signal victory gained wve-r thctrcmies of Israel, in tirfie of
v^ar; a war -A-hich God liimstK hid commanded them to en-
gage in, ior the defence o\ their righ:s, liberties and blessings.

I>rae'!, fiT whom G.^d had done great thing?., einned witii
-a high hand against hint j ai,d ^o punish thtm for their idol-
atrv and w ickcdness, iht Lord suffered Jat>in, a powerful king
ofCanraan, to oppress them, ard bring thtm into bondage,
-and atriict them t« enty vears. This humbled them, and they
cried unto the L.)rd, and he dirtacd Deborah to call upoa
Bar?k to cnlie:l an armv, and march against the army of Ja-
bm c.>mmar.d^d by Si^tra, and tie Lord promised to'deliver
them inro nis hand. When the requisition for men was
made, some of the governors offered themselves and the peo-
ple wdl-ngly ; others held back srd refused their aid : hovr-
tvtr Deborah the prophetess, and B-irr-k the general with his
little army, marchen ai^d atracktd the mighty ho-t of.i!-.fiir
enemies and overthrow them, and so delivered their nation
<rom oppression; frr the Lord was with :hem, and forght
l.)r Israel against their eneniics. This one battle was so di-
ci^ive, that it nut an end to the war, ant| the land hrd re^C
j...r-y )t?>rs. Dtb-.r^Ji ard B.irak celebrated this vS^cry in -4.
divii e s;^ng, in wjjich they call upoii king-: and all people to



4

consider what wonderful things God had done for Israel ;
they describe the sin and misery of the nation ; they render
praiiC to God; they give commendation to some ol the Is-
raelites, and pass censuies on others, especially the inhabi-
tants of Meroz, mentioned in the text. Curse ye Me r ok, said
the angel of the Lorci^ curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof^
because they came not to the helji of the Lord^ the help of the Lord
again, t the mighty.

This passage of Scripture contains the following general
truths :

1. One nation may be so oppressed by another, that it
may be the will of the Lord for them to take up arms, and
go to war with their oppressors,

2. In such a case, it is the du'y of the whole nation to
unite against the common enemy.

3. If any part of the nation, in these circumstances with-
hold their aid and help from their own nation, and side with
the enemy, it is highly displeasing to God. This was the
condud of the inhabitants of Meroz, and the angel of the
Lord ordered them to be cursed, with a bitter curte,

4. A nation engaged in a just war, a war for the defence
of their just rights, a war that God approves — such a war
God considers as his own cause, and to help in such a cause

is to come to the help of the Lord ; and if the nation in these \
circumstances humble themselves for their sins, and cry un-
to the Lord, he will be with them, and whatever difficulties
may be in the way, however powerful the enemy may be, if
they have nire hundred chariots of war, or a thousand ships
of war, yet the Lord will give vi6tory to the opprcbsed, who
humbly trust in him.

In order to illustrate and make application of this suhje(fV,
for our benefit on this occasion, I phall consider the simiiaii-
ity betu'een the chara»fler and condu<^t of Israel and that of
our nation, and the similarity between God's dealings to-
wards Israel and that of our nation.

I. What great things the Lord did for I^^rael in bringing
them out of bondage in Egyp^ conducting them to Cannaan,
CcTsting out the heathen, and planting ti.tm in that goad land.
Israel, the seed of Abraham, God's friend, were eoolavrd in
Egypt ; Phiroah, a cruel tyrant, oppressed them, and set task-
masters over them, and made them "^erve with rigcrj and pre^



vented their worshipping God agreeably to the dltf^ates of
their own consciences. They cried unto the Lord in their
distress, and he heard them, and j^ent Moses to deliver them'.
God wrought wonders in £gypt by the hand of Moses ; anil
at length he brc ught his people out, and led them on to me
IRed Sea, which the Lord divided, and led through on dry-
ground ; their enemies attempting to follow, were swept a-
way by the returning billows. He led them in the wilder-
ness forty years, with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar
of fire by night; he wrought mary wonderful miracles on
their behalf, and at last divided Jordan, and led them over
into Canaan. And when the heathen combmed against
them, the Lord fought for them, and gave them the vidory,
and settled them quietly in that good land, flowing as wiili
milk and honey, and they spread abroad, and became a great
nation.
I What a piflure this exhibits of the great and marvellous
things God has done for our nation. Our fathers were ia
bondage in England, afflidtd with the hard hand of tvranny
ar.d oppression ; they were persecuted, oppressed and pro-
i scribed ; and not suffered the free enjoyment of their holy re-
ligion. They were oppressed with enormous taxes, were
prosecuted, imprisoned, and fined, for worshipping God
agreeably to the di6lates of their own conscience. They cri-
ed unto the Lord in their distress, and he heard them, atid
put it into their hearts to emigrate from their native country,
to this then howling wilderness. The Lord took our fath-
ers under his protedion, and brought them across the wide
ocean, and planted tiiem in this American land; and when
the heathen, who were numerous, combined against them,
the Lord was on their side : he weakened and destroyed the
enemy by pestilence, and in various ways, and gave our fath-
ers vidory ; he caused thein to take root, increase, and spread
abroad in this land ; he bleibcd th'^m in ti.eir basket and store,
ai d raided them up to a great peop!e. And when the mtnh-
er coHntry saw their pr()s[)eri:y, she envied them, and sou,^;ht
to oppress them here as she had done at home ; she sent over
her fleets and armies to enforce her unjust mandates. Our
F;H hers, trusting in the Lord, took up arms, determined to
tieiend their rights; and the Goi\ of armies was with them,
^«d delcatcd the enemy. ar:d led them on to viitorv, indc



6

^^endence, and a rank among the nations of the earth. The
Xord has, since that period, greatly blessed and prospered
this nation, and favored us with every temporal and spiritual,
civil and religious privilege ; he has caused us to become a
great, rich, and powerful naiioH. God has done great and
marvellous things for us as a people.

s. After God had done such great things for Israel, and
bad settled them in the good land of Canaan in peace, where
they enjoyed his word and ordinances, and every blessing,
we should have supposed they would have forsaken all other
"Gods, and feared, worshipped, and served the Lord Jeho-
vah with all the heart. But instead of this, they sinned a-
gainst him, they forsook the rock of their salvation, and
"went after strange god?, and worshipi^ed them, as it is said
in our context, They chose them nevj gods^ and did evil in the
sight of the Lord, '

And has not our nation, in this particular, done as Israel
did, forsaken God, and done great evil in his sight ? When
we coHsider what great things God has done for our nation,
in planting of it in this good land, increasing, and prosper-
ii)g ihem ; and when their entmies rose up, & came in like a i;
fi'jod, the Lord lifted up a standard, and arrested iheir pro- j
gress, and gave us vii^ory, gave us peace, and established us '
as a hat.-on ; and blessed us on every hand, and gave us his
word, his sabbaih, his gospel, and ordinances ; when we
consider how much God has done for us, might it not have
b.een expelled that we should have b^en an obedient people,
that we should havr chosen God for our portion, and feared,
lovtd 5iid ser^'ed irf>^ wi'h all the hf.-rr ; that (ur inquiry
uodld have been, What shall ive render unto the Lord^ for all
his benefits unto »i, as a pei'pie ? But instead or tr-is hun«ble,
pit)U^, obcdienr. holy condi:6t, vve have, Jesi^urun like,
waxed fat, and k eked against the Lord ; ue ha^ e as a pe'^ple
fiT-aken t.-e Lord G. d of our lifcla her% and li^litly es-
tttmtd the rock of aur saiva.ion. Ltke I raei. we h^^ve
dot.e great evil in the sighr ol the L'^ni. cind provMktd the
Hv'iy One to ai ger All U-ds <f iniq.iuy has ab^uir.d-
t-(i in tliis nalio;;. aTul been crvipg to lie^vcn for vcpgesrce.
We have been ungraieful ro G k1, the g vtr of all oJ^r iner-
c\s.< ; we ^a'e been ungratelul ri>r our hc.ilth and srrerg^h ; j
U.-^-<irt!ul lor cu; f.)od ar.d raiiiitn: ; U(>gra'e!ul for tur civiL]



and religious liberty ; ungrattful for peace, tHat wc have en-
joyed so long ; ungrateful for ihc sabbaih, the gosprl, and iis
ordinances; iingrarefui lor Jesus Christ, and his great salva-
tion; ungrateful for the Holy Spirit, and his gracious inHu-
cncci in the conversion of sinners.

Pride is a sin which has greatly prevailed in this nation. —
We have been liited up with pride ; we have been proud of
our independence ; proud of our liberty ; proud of our cou-
siitutions of government; proud of our lulcrs, our num-
bers, and wealth. Some have been proud of their religion ;
and others of their wickedness, glorying in their shame. —
Pride is a haiefol, dangerous sin. Pride gses before destyuc-
lion, and a haughty spirit before a fall. God is said to knoiu
the jiroud afar If. to hate pride ; and he has said he ivill stain
the pride of all fie sh.

l^rolanencss is another awful sin in our land. We have
become a profane nation ; thousands, and thousands, every
day, blaspheming the holy name of God, uttering horrid
caths and imprecations upon themselves and others. AH
ages and sexes are uttering this profane language ; even little
children, cursing and sw taring, and taking ihe holy and
reverend names of God and Christ in vain. Thou shall not
take the name of the Lo'd thy God, in vain, is the divine com-
mand ; by reason of siveaung t'le land tnourncth^ and thepUaS'
ant places of the ivilderness are dried up.

Jn;empirance is another prevalent sin in this nation ; the
intemperate use of spiritnus liquors has become awhilly a-
Jarming. It is thought by some, that ardent spirits, con-
sumed in this nation, cost more than to maintain gfjvern-
ment; many are given up to intoxication, spt ndlng their
property, destroying thtir heahh, biir-ging shame and pov-
erty upon their families, and firtmg thtir souls for perdition.
This vice leads on to many others, such asidlentss, garni; g,
lewdness, and the like crirninal vices. This sin has become
so prevalent and alarming, that seriour penple through the:
.^tate nnd nation, are uniting tot;e;her and forming societies
icr the txp'css purpose of sup[;ressinjr it

\ Falsehood is another great sin, u iiich increase? the guth
of this natir.n. A lying spiri: has tckcn (H.sse^sion of the
liearts of many. What fal^elcod^ arc urtertd by rnany to
cover ihtir own wicktdnessj to deceive and cheat their lei-



8

low men in their dealings, and to injure the charafters of mcn-
both in and out of office ? How are our public prints, which
ought to be vehicles of truth, turned into channels of false-
hood and misrepresentation r

Gaming and vain amusements are prevailing sins which
many live in, and many professed Christians too, to the dis-
honor of God and disgrace of religion. Sabbath breaking
is a great sin ia our land : how is the Lord's day violated,
and turned by many into a holiday for feasting, and drink-
ing, and visiting, and riding abroad, and doing worldly bu-
siness ? God said to Israel, If ye vmU not hearken unto me ti
halloio the Sailath day^ and not to bear a burden^ even entering
in at the gates of Jerusalem^ on the Sabbath day ; then will ^
kindle afire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the Jialace,
•f JerusaCem^ and it shall not be quenched*

Lewdness, perjury, and oppression, are great sins in thi:
land. Division, strife, and contention, are abounding sins
which threaten the ruin of our nation ; for the Lord has said
A kingdom divided against itself cannct stand. An inordinat<
thirst for property and love of money is to be found amon{
the prevailing sins in this nation. We are told in the wor(
of God, The love of money is the root of all evil. Perhaps then
never was a nation that manifested greater love for money
and zeal to acquire wealth, than this nation has for many
years. It has been spoken of by other nations what lovers of
money Americans were; many have made a god o\ wealth,
and worshipped mammon. It is owing to this cupidity in
many, that the noble flame of patriotism, that burnt in the
hearts of their fathers, is quenched in them, and they are
.disposed to supply the enemy, for the bake of gain. Idola-
try has been no smail sin in this land : we have set up idols
in our hcarr, and worshipped them. Theft, and robbery,
ard murder, art great sins which not a few in this nation
have been concerned in perpetrating. The Lord saio to Is-
rael, IVlII a man rob God ? Het ye have robbed me^ even this
-whole nation. I'his has bten our criminal conduct ; we have
robbed God of that love, homrige, prai'-c and adoration,
V. hich was his dnt , and our duty to render. Manv great
and awful errors hnve been embiaced by many in tills nation,
suth as Arniinianism, Antinomianism, Sociniani^m, Uni
vertalisni, D-.ismj a:yJ A'.heism. Jesas Christ, the eterni;



"9

• Son of God, has been called an imposter ; the B'.ble has bec:t
rjdicultd as priestcraft and delusion ; experinienral religion
has been denounced as enthusiasm, and the work of ihc spir-
it of God ascribed to Safan by many. A preached gospel
and holy ordinances have been dtspieet! and negle<^cti, and
opposition to God, to Christ and his holy kingdom, has
greatly abounded in this naticn. O 1 what a binlul people
we have been; whet evil we have done in the si^ht of the
Lord, to provoke him to anger, and pull do'.vn judgmentii
upon us, as it is at this time ! Our sins have been the pri-
Riary cause ot all our sufferings, and our calamity at thft

• present day ; I fear and deprecate them more ihan aU th?^
enemies that have, or can come against us»

3. God was angry with Israel for their Idolatry, ingrati-
tude profanenes") and wickedness, and to punish them, he
sold ihem into the hand ot Jabin, a powerful king of Ca-
naan, as appears trom our context. Jabin was a great king
in those days ; he had nine hundred chariots of iron for war
and his army was equal. It is written, twenty years hr:
mightily oppressed the children of- Israel ; he disarmed them
and maile them tributary ; he had his soldiers stationed thro*
the land, &: by the high way's, L ihcir oppressions were such,
that It is said by Deborah in her song, tnat tU village: wer^
•■ deserted h their inhabitants ; t/ie high iviys zvere uncccuhied^
■ and the travellers walked though by loays to ?void the eneniy ;
when even the women went out to clravv water, the archers
would wantouly shoo- their arrov^s at rhem Thus the Lord
for twenty years suffered the tyrant Jabin to oppress Israel,
to punish them for their wickedness, to humble them, and
cause them to feel their dependence upon him. Now the
Lord has been trea.ing our nation in the same way, aiid for
t> e same reasons. To puiiish us for our many and gr-cas;
- sins against the Lord, he lias suffer-d the kli-g o{ Eng'ai-d. for
about twenty year'-, might'ly to oppress us. It is abour
tvveniy years tince England began ti; impress our seamen anvi
take our ve.-^cls on one pretext (>r another, and innilt us and
make depredations upon ui ; and tiiere is n ) dt;ubt we have
bttn plufidcrrd of vastly more property, and have si ffcrred
more fierional injury, in the course of iweniy year:, from the



10

king of England and his nation, than Israel did in the sam^^
time from Jabin and his nation. Jabin was a powerful king,
he had nine hundred chariots of Iron. George the third
has been a powerful king ; he has had a thousand sh'ps ml
war, and by them he has commanded the ocean and claimed
it as his property ; by them he has plundered the nations,
slaughtered thousands and tens of thousands, reduced cities to
ashes, and spread desolation far and wide. With his thous-
and ships he has committed every outrage and cruelty, and
robbery, and murder, manstcaling and depredation, that the
most barbarous nations have been guilty of. England has
taken from us, in time of peace, without any just provoca-
tion, about a thousand vessels, with their rich cargoes, car-
ried them into her own ports, condemned and sold them,
and put the money into her own coffers, to the amount of
many millions of dollars. All this we have borne without
resistance for many years. We have complained and re-
monstrated, and plead with them by negociation, to cease this
plundering and taking our vessels, and to do us justice. —
They have amused us with fair words but continued the
practice. Can the annals of history furnish an instance,
where a nation at peace with another nation, and without
giving any just cause of offence, has been plundered to the
amount our nation his ? Not one I presume. 7 here never
was, and I trust there never will be such a case, while man
inhabits the earth.

But this oppression, great and long as it has been, is not to
be compared to another we have endured ; that is, impress-
ing, holding in cruel bondage, starving, whipping, and some-
times putting to death our native citizens, who are seamen.
For twenty years they have continued the practice of im-
pressing our seamen, out of our merchant vessels, aboard
their ships of war ; this I consider to be mansiealing, which
the w ord of God ranks among the greatest crimes. It is im-
possible to ascertain the exa6t number they have impressed ;
but from the public documents I have seen, from the num-
bers found on board their ships we have taken, and the state-
ment of their muster books which have fallen into our hands,
trom the best information that 1 have been able to obtain on
'JiisGubjei^, it is my ooinioiv, that ia the course of twenty



11

years Great Britain lias impressed more than ti-jenty thousand
of our seamen, multitudes of whom were native born Ame-
ricans. Thus he husband has been torn from his beloved
wife and children ; the son from his parents, his brothers,
and sisters ; the citizen from his home and native land ; and
been wafted to distant climes, and held in cruel bondage, one,
five, ten and eighteen years. To hear the statement of some
under oath, who have lived to retura, describing their suf-
ferings, is enough to fill the soul with horror : some depose
and say, when they were impressed, because they would net
enter, they have been put m irons, kept on bread and water,
and whipped a dozen lashes every week, until, worn down
by hunger and scourging, they were forced to enter. One
deposed, that after ne was impressed he attempted to escape,
was taken, carried back, and whipped sixty lasher, and then
immersed in cold water one hour. This is the way our na-
tive citizens have been tortured aboard their floating Bastiles.
Who that has American blood running in his veins, can hear
of these cruelties inflifted on our own citizens, without in-
dignation ? Yet we are told by some that this is a small affair,
not worth contending for a moment ; but let such unfeeling
i)Ouls be placed under the discipline of a Britisn man of war,
for one year, and they would no longer speak with such ap-
athy about the sufferingsof our seafaring brethren.

England has come into our waters with her ships, fired
tipon our citizens and killed them. She has sent spies a-
mong us, 10 stir up division, withdraw the people from their
government, and dismember the union ; she ha^ armed and
excited the barbarians of the wilderness to make war upon
us, lay waste our frontiers, to butcher and scalp men women
and children ; and the scalps, reeking in blood, I have un-
tlerstood, they have been in the habit of purchasing at six
dollars a-piece — but am I stating the horrid condud of a
christian nation, or that of Turks and Arabs ? Yes, that of a
Christian nation towards a Christian nation, i have been
iioncing sorre of those evih and oppressions we have been
suffering from that government, which has been styled, " the
/jul'-jjark of our religion, and the luor/cl's last hojie.''^ But from
sucri a bulwark, may the Lord in n>Tcy save us and our pos-
terity. However pious and godly many of the people m



12

England may be, and I believe God has many dear children'"
there, who are groaning under the oppression of their rulers ;
vet I do believe in nr,y heart, that there is nor a more cor-
j-upt and wicked government on earth than the British gov»
ernment; they have in my opinion caused more wars, blood-
shed, misery and desolation on the earth than any other go-
vernment ; I believe they have been the cause of most of
the wars Napoleon has been engaged in, which have caused
rivers of bio )d to flow. No doubv tljey were the cause of
the late war between France and Russia, which ilie last year
swept (probably) three hundred thousand souls into ettrniiy,
1 believe the blood of millions is crying to heaven for venge-
ance upon this corrupt government, and undoubtedly the
time is not far distant, when the Lord in his anger will over-
turn it ; and in answer to the prayers of the good people of
England, bless them with a better government. The cru-
elties which have been perpetrated by this government on
herown subjefts in England and Ireland, on the Danes, and
in many parts of Europe, in the Ea>t and West Indies, in
Af^rica and America, are enough to a^^tonish heaven and earth
were they fully known : but enough is known to fill the
soul v.'ich horror I

What wanton waste of property did they cause in this
land In the former war ? Falmouth, Charlestown, Danbury,
and many other fine towns were wantonly burnt to ashes —
But this was nothing compared to the savage cruelties com-
mitted on our poor prisoners, that the fortune of war had put
in their power. More than eleven thousand, it has been
said, v.'e:e poisoned, starved, and by other cruel treatment,
destroyed aboard their prison ship, at New -York ; and Wil-
liam Cunningham, who was provost martial to the royal ar-
my at New- York, (afterwards executed for forgery) confess-
ed before his execution, that w//// and without the orders of
]\h gc"-j£r::rj.'efU, more than two thousand American prisoners
lie had iiiarved to death in the dltfc^rent churches of New-
York, where thtry were confuifd ; and that he had caus'^d tv/o
hundred and sevtnty-iive to be hung in the dead of the nighr,
and buried ! Give ear, O Mtavens ! and be astonished, O
rarth ! ! This was the \vny our poor fathers, and brethren,
vvtire ?;-icr;lijed hv thh ^'-^'err.nTet^t ?.:id its a^^ents, in tht last



war ; and ihcy have begun the same horriJ practice again in
the present war. They allow their savage allies to murder,
and scalp our poor wounded prisoners., and then leave them
unhurried for the swine to teed upon, as w as the case at the
River Raisin ; and all too in violation of solemn articles of
capitulaiion : other prisoners they have shut up in infected
jails and prison ships, and kept them on rotten damaged pro-
visions, until disease has ended their days. But my heart
sickens, and my nerves tremble, at the recital of ihese barbar-
ities and cruelties which we have suffered from this nation.
Now say, my hearers — oay an impartial world — have we not

r cause of war with tiiis nation ? Is not the war, in which we
are engaged, just ? and may we not believe a God of justice
approves ol ii r

4. Israel was so oppressed by Jabin, and had borne his
t\ranny so long, even twenty years, that ir was the will of


1

Online LibraryJohn H 1766-1851 StevensA discourse, delivered in Stoneham (Mass.) April 8, 1813. Being the day of the state fast → online text (page 1 of 2)