Let us therefore glory wisely as unto Jehovah for the works that he did in the days of our fathers.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and the following discourse was delivered not on this day, but on November 24th (close enough!), in the year 1853, by the Rev. Robert Sunderland, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. While this discourse is interesting on many levels, it is at times flowery and it is perhaps too patriotic for the taste of many today. Yet Rev. Sunderland is also often insightful, even prescient. If nothing else, his discourse presents us with a reminder to first be thankful for all that we enjoy as citizens of this nation, and then to pray for all that are in authority:—

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
(1 Timothy 2:1-3)

[Please note that Sunderland’s occasional use of the term “Republican” is not in reference to the political party (which began in 1854), but rather he uses the term to refer to advocates of the constitutional republic set forth in the U.S. Constitution.]

The Memories of the Metropolis: A Discourse delivered on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1853, in The First Presbyterian Church. By Rev. Byron Sunderland, the Pastor. Washington: Wm. M. Morrison & Co., 1853.

Note: The following Discourse was delivered on the occasion of Thanksgiving, November 24th, 1853, observed, in accordance with the recommendation of the Mayor of the City of Washington, as a day of public worship and thanksgiving to Almighty God…

DISCOURSE.

2d Kings 2:19; Psalm 44:1; and Psalm 78:4.

And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth.” “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days in the times of old.” “We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”

Love of God, love of country, and love of home, are the deepest and purest sentiments to which humanity is competent. They promote both philanthropy and gratitude. They kindle the present by recollections of the past, and by the hopes of the future. They are the soul of that wild, eternal Psalm, whose theme is Providence, repeated from sire to son in endless generations,

I need scarcely remind you that on this day of public thanksgiving to Jehovah, in accordance with the recommendations of both civil and ecclesiastical authority, and in observance of a custom now almost universal throughout the Confederacy, it is our privilege as Americans, and especially as inhabitants of the Federal City, to bring into the sanctuary, and to lay on the altars of Religion, our public and solemn thanks. The joy and the grandeur of this moment fill me with emotions which no language can express. I see a nation of my countrymen covered with unspeakable glory bending reverently before Almighty God in devout and grateful recognition of his parental solicitude. It is enough, my brethren. It is the greatest of sublimities I shall ever witness beneath the sun! To say all which the vision of this day stimulates, demands a stouter frame and a more burning utterance than belong to my poor nature, It is only a few feeble strains of the great Epic of my country., here and there a faint snatch of her song of wonder now rolling from the tuneful harp of Providence as it is swept by the hand of the Almighty, that we can pretend to rehearse before you—a few things that the fathers have told us of the work that was done in their days, that they may not be hidden from the children, and that the name and the praise of the Lord of Hosts may never be forgotten !

We have, therefore, in the spirit of the text, selected as a theme for the present occasion,

“THE MEMORIES OF THE METROPOLIS.”

or those recollections of the City of Washington, which, in its rise and progress, not only illustrate the patronage of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, but also, from their inherent beauty and thrilling power, serve to link ourselves in a romantic interest with those who went before, and those who shall come after us ; nay more, the remembrance of our beginning must prevail to heighten not only the fervor of our patriotism, but also the motives of our devout thanksgiving to the King of kings, when recited in contrast with the vicissitudes of an earlier history. The sun of our glory has just opened his portals, while the day of many an ancient capital has already gone out in darkness. To take a single example: It seems, from the allusion of the text, that so long ago as the times of the prophet Elisha, there stood a city in the East, the cradle of the human race, whence rose the nations of the earth. It was the far-famed Jericho, which, once blasted by the curse of Joshua, lay desolate for centuries. At length, rebuilt and reared among the hills, as ours to-day, it continued for ages the seat of learning and of laws, the resort of priests and prophets, and the ornament of Israel, But the Roman besom at length swept over it, the times were changed, and now it is but a wretched village of about fifty habitations!

The old town, once trodden by the feet of patriarchs and apostles, has sunken, into a heap of ruins. From the regions which once its towers illumined, the power and greatness of human life have been transferred. We have only to change the scene, and come round half the globe to where we stand to-day, and one might think that Arethusa’s fount, which whilom [at one time] flowed under the sea and burst up in the Sicilian Isle, had again appeared to lave the feet of this Queen of the Western Empire, and to make her glorious with the symbols of our national distinction. The course of human events has planted here the proudest pillar of government which the sun now shines upon. It is at length discovered how the Builder of the World, for a generation yet unborn, reared up this glorious circumference of hills, and overhung the ardent firmament, and rolled together the streams of yonder river, and strung through the vales which his hand scooped out the silver threads of springs, and clothed the slopes with verdure, and fringed the landscape’s with patriarchal trees, and guarded in long solitude even the swamp and the marsh and the fen, whose surface of reeds and samphire shook nightly to the rustling winds, that it might be for a place of habitation when the time should come, and a theatre of stirring scenes in one of the grandest ages of human achievement, and for a centre of exploit to a rising people whose career was to be unparalleled in the annals of the world. It seems like a vision of the night. Not many hundred moons ago, the wild Indian erected his wigwam where now we hear the busy hum of marts, where now our dwellings and churches stand, and where to-day we are assembled to worship God. The feuds of the Powhatans and Monacans are ended; and where once the council-fire was kindled in sight of yonder hill, the red men have vanished like the withered leaves which the winds of autumn are scattering, and which the next spring-breath may never find. It is but yesterday that the amphictyon of savage life was broken up, and on the very site of its ruins the prouder dome of the pale face has been upreared. It is but yesterday that, with the Capitol and the Presidential mansion, the Federal city has sprung up and these present thousands were gathered together—but a day since the hive was set and the Metropolitan swarm came in!

And there are those in the assembly to-day, I doubt not, who are familiar with it all, for the story of the beginning is no Grecian myth. No cloudy fable rests upon our origin; for when the oldest of our citizens were but children and youth, the foundations of the Metropolis were laid. These thronging memories will come back to-day and fill up with living images the meagre outline of the retrospect, which we want both the time and the information more fully to exhibit.

Go back then, in fancy, over the last portion of the eighteenth century, Standing on yonder hill, now crested by the nation’s Capitol, call to mind the old patents and the lines of the first surveys which had been made a hundred years before, for Richard Pinner, and William Langworth, and Captain Troop, and Francis Pope, who, seeing that his name was Pope, thought it no robbery to be equal with the Pope, and appropriated to his estate and the stream that watered it, the august names of Rome and the Tiber. His prophecy, which lingered for a century around the hill, has been at length accomplished, and now the Capitoline overlooks us in more than Roman majesty. As you stand gazing in after years from the same position, there lie outstretched around the lands of succeeding proprietors, on the one hand declining to the river’s brink, and on the other expanding in copse and forest, in ravine and meadow-land, away to the circling hills. There is Duddington pasture; there is the house of Daniel Carroll; yonder of Notley Young; and yonder still of David Burns.  There are the uplands, and the orchards green, and the old burial-places of the dead. The lark springs up from the dewy corn, singing for joy away to the gates of heaven, and the plover whistles shrill at the nightfall in yonder sedge. In many a footpath, and by many a spring, the children wander plucking the wild fruit and startling a merry echo in the deep woods. Sportsmen and fishermen haunt the shoals of Anacostia, whose rude old wharves scarce break the morasses and the water-courses which crowd over the site of the present avenue of Pennsylvania, and end away in the northern slashes. All the home scenes of incipient English life lie spreading around, and there is yet no sign of the coming grandeur which is in part to supersede the unbroken picture of rural loveliness which beams from the hamlets of Hamburg and Carrollsburg, and bursts from distant Arlington, from the heights of Georgetown, from Prospect Hill, and from the silver sheen of waters playing far away in moonlight to the sea,

But we had our Elisha, on whom the mantle of all the prophets had descended. He had smitten the waters of the Revolution, and passed over in triumph. Long years before, he had from his rough canoe explored the course of the Potomac, surveying with proud and patriotic eye the future seat of Empire. You will call to mind the act of Congress of 1790, and all the legislation both of Maryland and Virginia through which the desire of Washington was finally accomplished. You will call to mind that day when he came, like the seer of old, to perfect the titles and to prepare for the foundations ; and the men of Georgetown, like those of Jericho, said unto him, “Behold, I pray thee, the situation of the city is pleasant, as my lord seeth.” You will call to mind the negotiations of those terms and the names of the men who ceded to the Government the territory of the District of Columbia. You will call to mind the 15th day of April, 1791, when the corner-stone of the District was set up below Alexandria, and in the public concourse the minister of the cross pronounced the prayers of the infant nation; and how, soon after the other corner-stones were set, and the soil thus measured was consecrated thenceforth and forever to the cause of American greatness and to the religion of God.

Then followed a decade of years preliminary to the coming of Congress and the full establishment of the Government here in the year 1800. You may call to mind the men who, in the close of the last century, came to stake out the site of the city and from the wilderness yet unsubdued to cast the streets and avenues and the public squares, and to mark many a height and many a lawn for the reception of the sacred monuments. You have heard of Johnson, and Stewart, and Carroll, the commissioners of L’Enfant and Ellicott, the engineers; and of Hoban, Thornton, and Ballet, the architects. You have heard how they toiled till the plan of the city was completed, and the first great structures of our Republican Independence were about to be erected. You will call to mind the coming of Washington, in the month of September, 1793, to lay the corner-stone of the Capitol; the day of the procession, with life and drum, on a fallen tree across the Tiber, and up the narrow footway, amid the oaks and under-wood, to the memorable spot. You will remember, who saw that sight, the majestic form and the reverend countenance of the Old Hero as he lifted up his voice and spake to you. You will remember—for such a memory can never fade—how he passed away amid the solemn grandeur of the hour, and ever after from the heights of Vernon turned his anxious yet exultant gaze towards the Metropolis, till he fell asleep ; and now, where “the Father of his Country’’ reposes, the nations make their foremost pilgrimage.

The seed was sown, and the scions of the city were putting forth. The old roads gave place to new-made streets; the evening lights grew thicker; the marshes waxed small and thin; the bloom of civilization was gathering, on the young flower just bursting from the shadows of the wilderness. The times of Adams and Jefferson succeeded; three thousand souls already made up the population of the place. The Congress came, and the act of incorporation followed in 1802. The municipal functions went into operation and the Metropolis, now chartered in the sacred name of Washington, was fairly launched on her pathway of renown to turn back never. The mayors came, of whom Robert Brent stood first in the succession, whose worthy followers, even until now, no doubt many of you can remember. The fathers of the city council came; the physicians and the lawyers and the judges came; the noble artists came; the men of invention and of genius came,—and scattered their imperishable works among us.

The old ferry-boat which once plied from this to Alexandria was succeeded by nobler vessels. The scanty stores of Stettinius and Sommerville were superseded by long, magnificent blocks, adorned and filled by all the heraldry of merchantmen. The straitened inn of the stammering and eccentric Pitt could no longer accommodate the strangers; and there came in its stead, one after another, the spacious boarding-houses and the splendid hotels rising upon the avenues. The spirit of enterprise, fresh blown from the battle of freedom, was abroad on every breeze and inspiring every motion. You may remember the inscription on the sign of Peter Rodgers: “ Peter Rodgers, saddler, from the green fields of Erin and Tyranny to the green streets of Washington and Liberty. See Copenhagen—view the seas—’tis all blockade—’tis all a blaze! The seas shall be free! Yankee Doodle, keep it up.”

Droll as this language sounds to the ear, a sentiment of mighty import still swung in it before the door of the exiled Irishman. It bounded in the old men’s veins, and flashed on the ruddy cheeks of children. It was the price of blood; and the people of the country and the Metropolis felt that it must never perish.

On went the young city in wealth, in trade, in manufactures—but more than all, in public institutions, in monuments of elegance, and taste, and refinement; in foundations of charity, of science, of chivalry. The gentlemen of the Press came. The Ministers of the Cross came. The Presidents came. The Cabinets came. Congress succeeded Congress; and those Titan brothers, Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, long wrestled with antagonists in the forum of the Senate. Alas! they are no longer;—each lying in the dreamless sleep in his own place, far apart, as though a portion of our institutions, with them, had passed away.

And, indeed, it were long to tell of the great works done by herculean efforts, as the men multiplied and the town went on increasing.  It were long to tell of companies that pitched those tanks on yonder bottom-land at the beginning of the Mall, and made a fire-place whence all the lamps are lighted along the streets at night, turning even so much gas to good account—to tell of times when the steam-horse came, and neighed so loud that his shrill whinny startled the echoes on all the hills. It were long to tell how they caught also that wilder steed, which before had bounded free over all the continent of clouds unbridled, and tamed him down with juices in a cup and long, slim wires, and made him gentle as a fawn—the bearer of swift messages to all points.  It were long to tell how they planted the forges, and set up the machinery at the Navy Yard, as though Vulcan had indeed opened his workshop once more, that he might point for desolation the thunderbolts of Jove—how they reared the Observatory, to be for the light-house of the sky, where the genius of numbers out-rivals the imagination itself—how they have magnified the Departments of Government, where the machinery of the mighty Republic is silently but sublimely working off the burdens of empire. It were long to tell how they have received the tribute of the dying Smithson, and built a pile which, bearing his name, will perpetuate long the memory of his princely generosity—how they have garnished the pleasure-grounds and the public edifices with the immortal creations of such minds as Causici, Capellano, Persico, Greenough, Trumbull, and Mills. And how, at length, they have commenced to rear, so long deferred, that greatest pillar of American glory, the monument of the nation, where, in the Coliseum of our gathering greatness, shall be assembled the sculptured conclave of all our heroes around the form of Washington!

Ah! little now does the giddy maiden, whose tiny foot scarce touches the pavement over which she skips, flushed out in all the latest styles of fashion—and little does the dapper young gentleman, in his huge cravat and boots, fresh made of patent-leather, as he goes roistering from billiard-rooms and restaurants, wot [know] of the things here done by the consuming labor of hand and brain, where but a little ago the grey heron and the bittern hovered about the pools, and the fishermen spread their nets to dry in the noon-day sun. But thus the city’s life unfolded through all the times of transformation and of progress, with new difficulties daily overcome, and a real effort to make the future better than the past has been or than the present is; while in this advancement the woods were cleared, the ditches dug, the hills cut down, the banks erected, and time and sweat and money were poured out like water, till on the new arena no man can look without a just enthusiasm bearing him away delighted from this consecrated spot, and in the wrapt vision of all the sovereign States which circle round, causing him to exclaim in the language of the patriotic muse—

 “Lives there a man with soul so dead.
Who never to himself hath said.
This is my own, my native land.”

We have seen as best we might, in the brief time allowed us, the first fibres of that web which were gathered up from the forest land, from the pestilent marsh, and from the Indian trail—spun from the very moss that grew upon the trees, and strung by the pebbles that shone in the springs and by the edge of streams, as delicate at the beginning as the spider’s web. But our weavers came—the strong men, and hundreds of noble names we ought to name, but have no space; and each working in his way, they collected the filaments from the ruggedness of nature ; they of their diligence fixed the warp in the loom, and the great shuttle of Providence was given them, and they wove the texture which soon must other hands continue; thus weaving in common with our countrymen the ever-widening fabric of the Metropolis, spangled with diamonds, and furnishing, we hope, at some distant day the mighty turban of purple and gold that shall sit, in the future coronation of Humanity, on the brow of the American Republic, illumined by the triple stars of Science, Government, and Religion!  Such, my brethren, are some of the memories—would to heaven there were none other worse of this monumental city!—all themes of grateful reminiscence—making us thankful for what our fathers did, and thankful that on this day of thanksgiving we had their history to record and their memories to remember.

And now the web is wider and the woof thickens, and we have already become a force. Fifty thousand people, such as you are, cannot be together in any spot on earth, much less here, at the heart, without being a force—a fountain of influence, giving and  taking with every section of the nation, and every quarter of the world, still growing to a larger force, and ending, perhaps, never as a force!  It remains, therefore, under the hallowed impulses of these passing recollections, to address to you some practical considerations which may not be unaccordant with the spirit of this occasion. Indeed, from the prominence on which we stand, we would, if it were possible, summon around us every class of our fellow-citizens, and would urge upon them the sentiments of patriotism, philanthropy, and piety, which so many glorious recollections of our past are eminently adapted to inspire.

I.     I would appeal to the massive millions of the people, and say, Your birth-right, Americans, has cost too much to be squandered—it promises too much for the future to be neglected. Remember, therefore, to preserve the Republic as it is—destined only to a just progress and expansion. There are many motives for this; our Government is the asylum of the world. We have drawn our blood from the Huguenot, from the Norman, from the Saxon, and the Celt. Men of all religions and of all philosophies are here; the emigrant and the exile from all quarters of the globe. They are our fellow-citizens, nursing the same shaggy breast of our common mother, which, out of the wilds of nature, was free from the first to give sustenance to all. It has been a thing taken for granted here from the beginning by our fathers and by ourselves, and so I hope it may ever be, that personal freedom, and private judgment, and the rights of conscience, so far as each is competent to them in his condition, are things too sacred to every human being to be invaded with impunity. It was seen that life had no impulse without liberty, and liberty no safeguards but virtue and intelligence; wherefore, the arms of the country were ever open to whatsoever human brother chose to abide with us; so that we had Jews and Germans, Yankees and Indians, the sons of Ireland, the emigrants of France and Spain, and Many nations, and the children of Ham, We had all foreigners, as when Jerusalem was filled with the representatives of the Eastern World. And thus far we have been more happy and more prosperous under the working of those great institutions which our fathers left us than any people hitherto. Preserve the Republic, then, in the name of God and Humanity, as it is. There was at times a love of liberty in the nations of antiquity, but they had more to contend with than we. Between tyranny and licentiousness, they could not see what kind of government was best; their revolutions were quick, turbulent, and extreme. Only France, among the moderns, can present a parallel, and that is because she has no religion, and has had none for a thousand years. But the want of faith in God is not the only danger to free governments, though from the want of faith most other dangers spring.  If there be a danger to our own beloved country, it is in the levity and inconstancy which ruined, ages since, so many famous people. Deep meditation, stern contentment with fortune, and a hard, tough patience, is what this people must cultivate : these things, in this age of activity and effervescence, are likely to dwindle out of us. If we would not share the fate of the Greeks, we must not be as volatile as the Greeks; we must take care not to degenerate from the old stock of the men of the Revolution. It is possible for this people, instead of remaining like the granite of their mountains, to become rather like a bottle of hartshorn; and if so, we can expect but little firmness where so many winds are blowing; for the bottle will some cunning hand uncork, and away will fly the spirits,

But other nations had not our civil polity. They generally had but two parts, and no third to balance. The affairs of state were simply a bone of contention between the aristocracy and the mobocracy, the senate and the rabble. Now, all government must sway; authority will not stand still, So subtle and so mobile are the elements of humanity, that you might as well think to fix the waves of the ocean by petrifaction as to suppose that so great a matter as the government of states can be made to stand still. And why?  If a chair in which a man is to sit be supported on the shoulders of living creatures—millions of men, for example—would it not be thought a thing incredible, yea, against nature, for those men to hold that chair perfectly still?  Even so is the authority of human government. It will incline as the people incline—either to a centralization of power, or to a diffusion of power—either to despotism or anarchy. The wisdom of a polity is to make these movements and counter-movements check one another; and it was never so done as in our own country. We have a constitution which procures that, while the sea of the masses is lashed into tumult, the chair of state remains untilted. We live under laws, both national, state, and municipal, most singularly constructed to avert the excess or the abuse of political power. The genius of our polity seems almost to have been inspired. Oh, then, by all that is sacred, let us preserve as it is! May the Almighty save us from doing anything to darken a prospect which—not all brightness, to be sure, nor yet all clouds—is growing and will grow into the glister of a perfect day, if not overcast by the ambition of the few and the fanaticism of the many!

Again, other nations have fallen through the spirit of arrogance. To their high notions of wisdom and prowess they blindly trusted. They had great land victories and great naval success; their treasuries overflowed. Prosperity reacted; their vigilance was gone, and they fell a prey to foreign foes, or the still more bitter retributions of intestine war. We, too, as a nation have had our similar success, which, of course, is like contagion in the land; and one town, tingling with the applause of triumphs by our common arms, sends the same thrill into another, till the continent trembles with the martial spirit which has kindled through the millions. It is a pitfall into which many states have plunged before us. A nation lusty with sinews and full of wealth, when so inflamed, is on the verge to lose freedom. The grosser passions are then stimulated, and abandonment to the crisis of the hour comes on apace. Happy are we, however, thus far in this country, that peaceful labor restrains this tendency to ruin. The mass of the people are heavy workers, and the whole domain of the Republic shakes with the vigor of humanity in its prime; and though floods of wealth are pouring in, and property is rising, and the acres just shorn of woods are more costly, still the national industry increases, and each man may earn his meal. All this tells up so much our happy condition as a people, for Freedom loves hardy children, It is a sign of her decay when, out of huge and magnificent palaces, there goes not every day a man to some thorough labor of life. Honest labor is no enemy to our happiness and elevation, and so I hope every man and woman who boasts these immunities may have it for as high an honor to be a sturdy worker. Work intensifies thought, and intense thought will save our country, under the guidance of God, from the evils of levity and arrogance, and wealth and conquest. Ah! then, Americans, do not only love liberty, but conceive also its true idea; study its conditions in man and in society; and, as the voice of your glorious future, by your own spirit, of patriotism, (which is none other than the equal love of your whole country, no single part excluded,) by the memories of our fathers, by the destiny of universal man—yea, and by the sanctions of our most holy religion, to cleave to the Constitution and to the Confederacy as it is; and so may God pity you as ever you depart from this substance of the nation’s life, or suffer the banner which it sports to trail! Oh! where shall men look for succor when those ensigns which wave beside the dome of the Capitol shall have ceased to symbolize the patriotism of the nation, or float no longer in mockery of a people that have lighted themselves to destruction!

II.    I call, therefore, upon the gentlemen of the Press to diffuse these sentiments, in every edition of book or journal, to the remotest dwelling. They are the life of those memories we have attempted to recall to you to-day. You hold in your hands the power to mould, in a very large degree, the opinions of our masses. We look with solicitude, not unmixed with pride and hope, as you move on in your stupendous mission. You wield a mighty weapon, and direct the most amazing force. The great Briareus of the printing art, scattering the sheets hourly like snow-flakes, is at your service to do your bidding; and the pulse of his giant heart, as it throws its diurnal circulation to every extremity, and falls along the tenderest nerve of every human interest, is giving tone and temper to the sum total of this instinctive and untiring people. You have the clue and the key, gentlemen, to their future destiny. Ah! do not miss the mark, and lead them wrong—like Polyphemus, strong but blind.

III.  I call, too, upon the gentlemen of the Bar, and all who, before the people, or on the bench, or in the halls of legislation, are gifted with the power of public speech. The memories of the Metropolis must especially invoke you: the very air seems to breathe around us here something of the power and elevation of eloquence devoted to the welfare of America, Gentlemen, the Jaws are in your hands, and yon are to conserve the purity of justice, and teach this great people its practice. You have it for a privilege to defend our Constitution—a document which as it has seemed to me to be almost inspired from heaven, as the only fitting and continual altar of the national sacrifice, and that alone on which the vestal fire will bum. This is the earnest lesson of jour calling. You have no need to become demagogues or hypocrites, no need for the chicanery and the scrambling of parties. If you do but speak right out the eternal principles of the early jurists and expounders of our Government, you will speak to the great heart of the people; and you know, if we have correctly stated the theory of our civil polity, there must be a spirit of loyalty to the organic life and law of the system, or the strength of the Government is paralyzed. Oh! gentlemen, you have a heavy and solemn work. May you have Solon’s wisdom, Cato’s integrity, and Tully’s silver tongue! And for the shades of the illustrious dead in whose presence we seem almost to stand, and for the dear sake of all those hallowed monuments, do not fail in any tittle of your great mission.

IV.  I would appeal to all the parents and guardians of our youth, to inculcate, at the earliest period of life, the sentiments of our fathers—let them not be hidden from the children—that they too may learn, and learning, venerate the things that were done among us in times of old. Let me entreat yon to educate the children. They shall have neither mental enjoyment nor social position, nor even the capability of self-government, without. It was one of the earliest principles, deep-rooted in our soil, that information and science are the bulwarks of liberty. Preserve the colleges, and seminaries, and the free common schools, as you would your hearth-stones and your homes. We can indeed do without Cambridge and Oxford, and the French and German universities, because our Republican institutions are simpler and more straightforward: they will make every town in the nation to be what Athens or what Sparta was—the Damasimborter—the “tamer of men.” That is our great glory more than all our material prosperities. Our business is to look after the essential interests of mind, and quarry, from these thousands of children (each child the jewel of his mother and precious as Cornelia’s were to her,) the future pillars of our country’s citizenship. Oh! let it be done, I beseech you! Let neither the struggle for bodily subsistence, nor the conflict of manifold opinions, nor the subtlety of civil or ecclesiastical encroachment, prevent us in this fundamental labor! Remember the boys and girls who will stand where we now stand in the next generation; for that day of responsibility and action they need a thorough knowledge and discipline. Whatever else you do, give such men and women to the next age. They will be castle-gates more formidable than the great Hexapylum! The tendency of these times is to the surface, to volubility and froth, and great swelling words of vanity. Sink down into the youthful mind so many fathoms deep the solid learning of a wise education, and then when the lighthouse rises there in coming times, no billow can break up the foundations, no cloud obscure the clear beam which shines thence a wav over the sea of human commotion.

V.    And lastly, I would call on the Ministers of Religion—those men whose life it is to show the way to heaven by the avenue of the Cross. It belongs to the American people to cherish the Christian faith of our fathers, and to hold fast by the principles of the Bible in toleration and charity. It belongs to the American ministry to keep the pure flame burning in the great heart of the nation by the hopes of a Christian immortality. Deep faith in God and eternity was the foundation strength of the men of the Revolution. No flippant skepticism disgraced them—no scandal of infidelity blighted the character of their great works. They were made of a sterner stuff and of a nobler mould ; they had many creeds, it is true, but the vinculum of all was in their unqualified and unwavering trust in Jehovah, and in the constant recognition of his Providence; and thus they have shown to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wondrous works that He hath done! The nation was founded in their prayers and tears, baptized by their blood, and devoted to the Almighty by their sublime and invincible faith; the very corner-stones of the Metropolis were planted in crying and supplication to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. The nations that had not this religion have perished. Our catastrophe will never come if we abide by its principles. Now, therefore, by all the motives that can most stir the blood and the spirit of Republicans, by the deep and solemn life of religion itself, by the mysteries of death, and the morning of the millennium, when all that is truly heroic in the history of man will be clothed with a new and another immortality, do I invoke the ministrations of the Pulpit, to imbue this ever-growing people with the spirit of that unseen but eternal power the sound of whose going is like the rush of armies—that spiritual, mighty wind, filling every heart and every house of habitation—that gift of prophetic devotion which drives men perpetually to the worship of the Deity—that new creation which passes over the millions, and they come forth, in a resurrection of beauty and of glory, at the voice of the Almighty.

And now, in conclusion, I call upon you, one and all, to pay thanksgiving for all the memories which cluster about us in the Providence of God, and which kindle to-day so many fires of gladness through all our borders, and stimulate so many hopes of the coming future. Let us thank the Bountiful Giver of our lineage and our estate, and from this day take new courage and go forward. Let us therefore glory wisely as unto Jehovah for the works that he did in the days of our fathers in the times of old, Let us glory in this growing greatness of the Republic, and in the seat and temple of Americas empire, towards which the eyes and prayers of all the sovereign tribes are this day doubtless turned. Let us glory in the men who here first made the timbers crackle before the axe and flame, and in the impulse of freedom and of faith which we ever had from them, Alas! how many of them are sleeping to-day in the places of sepulture hallowed by their fame; and the few that were of them, and still linger as if to watch the country’s and the city’s rising grandeur, will soon go to carry some better tidings of nobler things still done—that meeting, if such spirits ever meet beyond the returnless bourn, it may be to say, “The city hath a pleasant sight and glorious hopes for the future, and our sons are there full of our blood and courage; and the great web of our national story will they weave on, till, coming to join us here, they leave it to their sons to weave it still!”—a web of august memories as lasting as that rising and, we trust, imperishable monument, to which, in recognition of the gift of God in our great Washington, we ask you to-day, before retiring to the scenes of your family festivities, to pay the votive offerings of so free and so proud Americans!

Presbyterian Pastor, First Theological Professor at Yale, and . . . Sniper
by David T Myers

Surely, your author has made an error, our faithful subscribers might suggest, over the title of this post? Presbyterian pastor, divinity professor at Yale, we all might receive those descriptive words, but sniper? What is going on? Yet the facts tell that our title is correct.

First, the person of our post today of Naphtali (what a unusual first name!) Daggett is striking in itself. He was born on September 9, 1727. Little is known of his early life, but our first recorded information on him is his graduation from Yale College in 1748. His choice of denomination was that of Presbyterian, and he was ordained by the Presbytery of Suffolk, Long Island, New York on August 19, 1749. Ordained two years later on September 18, 1751, he was directed to preach at Smithtown Presbyterian Church in Long Island, New York. Several years afterwards, in 1755, he requested that the Presbytery approve his intention to return to Yale to assist the President, Thomas Clapp, in the pulpit of the College Church. This move was somewhat easy in that the change of calling included his induction as the first professor of Divinity as well as the realization that his present place of ministry was bereft of adequate income, a frequent malady of early American pastors.

When President Clapp left the college of Yale, Rev. Daggett become the college’s president pro tempore for the next eleven years, until 1777. It was within this period that the last word of our title became reality. The American revolution had begun, including an invasion of New Haven, Connecticut on July 5, 1779. Three thousand British troops on forty-eight ships appeared off the coast. Advancing on the town and college, Naphtali Daggert led half of the students – approximately one hundred – to delay their advance so that the wives and children could escape to the north. It was said of this Presbyterian president and professor that he took his position to snipe at the numerous enemy troops before him with his musket.

A British officer lead a squad of men to capture him, which they did. This author will not record the words of that officer upon finding this man protesting their advance, but they gave him a beating, took off his shoes, tortured him by many thrusts of their bayonets on his lower extremities, and forced him to walk with them as a guide for over five miles. The effects of this treatment was to stay with him until his death, even though he continued to serve as Yale president. It was on November 25, this day, in 1780 that he died of complications from internal hemorrhage.

Words of Live By:
There is no doubt that Napthali Daggett was one of those Black Robed Presbyterian ministers whom the British named as complicit in their participation of resisting the mother country’s rule over the American colonies. Desperate times called for desperate actions, so this Presbyterian minister was not absent in the roll call of Americans, and especially Presbyterian pastors, resisting England. Certainly, there are plenty of reasons today for modern Presbyterian ministers and people to stand up for righteousness, and resist the spiritual enemy’s encroachments of secular humanism, which has all but captured the populace. Let us pray much for our blessed land, and as providence provides opportunities, of which there are countless, stand for Biblical truths and practices.

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No Wonder He Was Weary.

Our post today, an account of the death of John Knox, is taken from the essential biography written by Thomas McCrie:—

Monday, the 24th of November [1572], was the last day that he spent on earth. That morning he could not be persuaded to lie in bed, but, though unable to stand alone, rose between nine and ten o’clock, and put on his stockings and doublet. Being conducted to a chair, he sat about half an hour, and then was put in bed again. In the progress of the day, it appeared evident that his end drew near. Besides his wife and Richard Bannatyne, Campbell of Kinyeancleugh, Johnston of Elphingston, and Dr. Preston, three of his most intimate acquaintances, sat by turns at his bed-side. Kinyeancleugh asked him, if he had any pain. “It is no painful pain, but such a pain as shall, I trust, put end to the battle. I must leave the care of my wife and children to you (continued he,) to whom you must be a husband in my room.” About three o’clock int he afternoon, one of his eyes failed, and his speech was considerably affected. he desired his wife to read the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians. “Is not that a comfortable chapter?” said he, when it was finished. “O what sweet and salutary consolation the Lord hath afforded me from that chapter!” A little after, he said, “Now, for the last time, I commend my soul, spirit, and body (touching three of his fingers) into thy hand, O Lord.” About five o’clock, he said to his wife, “Go, read where I cast my first anchor;” upon which she read the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel, and afterwards a part of Calvin’s sermons on the Ephesians.

After this he appeared to fall into a slumber, interrupted by heavy moans, during which the attendants looked every moment for his dissolution. But at length he awaked as if from sleep, and being asked the cause of his sighing so deeply, replied, “I have formerly, during my frail life, sustained many contests, and many assaults of Satan; but at present that roaring lion hath assailed me most furiously, and put forth all his strength to devour, and make an end of me at once. Often before has he placed my sins before my eyes, often tempted me to despair, often endeavoured to ensnare me by the allurements of the world; but these weapons being broken by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, he could not prevail. Now he was [sic] attacked me in another way; the cunning serpent has laboured to persuade me that I have merited heaven and eternal blessedness, by the faithful discharge of my ministry. But blessed be God who has enabled me to beat down and quench this fiery dart, by suggesting to me such passages of Scripture as these, What hast thou that thou hast not received? By the grace of God I am what I am : Not I, but the grace of God in me. Being thus vanquished, he left me. Wherefore I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ, who was pleased to give me the victory; and I am persuaded that the tempter shall not again attack me, but, within a short time, I shall, without any great bodily pain or anguish of mind, exchange this mortal and miserable life for a blessed immortality through Jesus Christ.”

He died in the sixty-seventh year of his age, not so much oppressed with years, as worn out and exhausted by his extraordinary labours of body and anxieties of mind. Few men were ever exposed to more dangers, or underwent such hardships. From the time that he embraced the reformed religion, till he breathed his last, seldom did he enjoy a respite from these, and he emerged from one scene of difficulties, only to be involved in another, and a more distressing one. Obligated to flee from St. Andrews to escape the fury of Cardinal Beatoun, he found a retreat in East Lothian, from which he was hunted by Archbishop Hamilton. He lived for several years as an outlaw, in daily apprehension of falling a prey to those who eagerly sought his life. The few months during which he enjoyed protection in the castle of St. Andrews were succeeded by a long and rigorous captivity. After enjoying some repose in England, he was again driven into banishment, and for five years wandered as an exile on the continent. When he returned to his native country, it was to engage in a struggle of the most perilous and arduous kind. After the Reformation was established, and he was settled in the capital, he was involved in a continual contest with the Court. When he was relieved from this warfare, and thought only of ending his days in peace, he was again called into the field; and, although scarcely able to walk, was obliged to remove from his flock, and to avoid the fury of his enemies by submitting to a new banishment. He was repeatedly condemned for heresy and proclaimed an outlaw; thrice he was accused of high treason, and on two of these occasions he appeared and underwent a trial. A price was publicly set on his head; assassins were employed to kill him; and his life was attempted both with the pistol and the dagger. Yet he escaped all these perils, and finished his course in peace and in honour. No wonder that he was weary of the world, and anxious to depart; and with great propriety might it be said, at his decease, that “he rested from his labours.”

The Life of John Knox, by Thomas McCrie, p. 130.

Words To Live By:

it is the Lord God who raises up His faithful, humble servants and employs them in powerful ways to advance His kingdom. Pray that He would yet again shake the kingdoms of this earth with the fervent preaching of His glorious Gospel. Our God has done this time and again in the past, and He can and will so move yet again. Are you so praying and watching expectantly?

Having written last week about The League of Evangelical Students, we present today two articles which appeared in the second issue of the League’s magazine, The Evangelical Student. The first article is by the Rev. Dr. O.T. Allis, who was then in 1926 a professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary.  Following that, a brief article by Johannes G. Vos, the son of Dr. Geerhardus Vos. This second article is titled “The Spirit of Error.” We trust you will find both articles profitable.

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THE SCRIPTURAL METHOD OF BIBLE STUDY
by PROFESSOR O. T. ALLIS, PH.D.

There are certain things essential to the truly scriptural study of the Bible which need to be emphasized today in view of the insistent claims which are so often made by the advocates of the so-called “modern” or “critical” method of Bible study.

The first of these is the unity and harmony of the Bible. This charac­teristic has impressed believing scholars in all ages as a signal proof of its divine origin. The fact that so many different writers, so widely separated in time, wrote a collection of many books which are in the truest sense one book, the Bible, is a strong evidence of its unique inspiration. Yet one of the outstanding characteristics of the “modern” method is the way in which it exhibits, and the importance which it attaches to, the alleged dis­harmonies of the Bible. We cannot read beyond the first chapter of Genesis without being confronted with this cardinal doctrine of the critics; for the “second” account of creation (Gen. ii) contradicts, we are told, the “first.” And this is but a sample. We have, they tell us, two ac­counts of the Creation and the Flood; three accounts of the Plagues and of the Crossing of the Red Sea; four of the Crossing of the Jordan. Further­more, these accounts disagree and contradict one another. The theoretical Jehovist differs from the hypothetical Elohist; and the alleged Priestly writer contradicts them both. Judges discredits the account of the Con­quest given in Joshua; Chronicles is proved unreliable by Samuel-Kings. The “great” prophets are represented as the opponents of the priests and as the more or less uncompromising foes of the ritual sacrifice. Micah and Zechariah are divided between at least two authors, Isaiah is given to three; and many of these documents are declared to be composite and to have been edited, or revised, by a later compiler or “redactor.” All this partitioning and analyzing is made necessary, it is argued, by differences in language, style, ideas and manner of presentation, differences which not seldom amount to contradictions. The result is that for the “modern” student the Bible, especially the O.T., is characterized not by harmony and unity, but by discord and contradiction. How disastrous this is should be apparent to everyone, for nothing is more certain to discredit a book and destroy its influence with thinking people than to find that it does not contain a consistent and harmonious presentation of the matters which it aims to set forth.HERE are certain things essential to the truly scriptural study of the Bible which need to be emphasized today in view of the insistent claims which are so often made by the advocates of the so-called “modern” or “critical” method of Bible study.

Consequently the reverent Bible student will be very slow to accept these alleged contradictions. He will scrutinize them with the utmost care. If he does so, he will find that many of them are purely imaginary. There is nothing inconsistent about the statement in Num. xvi. that (i) a Levite and (2) three Reubenites were leaders in a rebellion against Moses, nothing to indicate that we have here two conflicting accounts of the same event The mention of two parties simply shows that the revolt was wide­spread and serious enough to require drastic measures. There is nothing contradictory about the statement that (1) the Lord told Moses to lift up his rod and (2) to stretch forth his hand and that then (3) the Lord caused a strong east wind to blow, in order that the Red Sea might be divid­ed before Israel (Ex. xiv. 16, 21). Such statements are different only in the sense that they record distinct features of the story, all of which are needed to complete the record. They become contradictory only when each state­ment is treated as complete in itself and placed in opposition to others which are designated to supplement it. Most events, especially if they be great ones, are complex; there are many factors which enter into them. Were the modern method of source analysis applied to almost any his­torical narrative which dealt at all adequately with an intricate situation it could easily be reduced to a mass of contradictions.

There are other alleged contradictions which are due either to a failure to recognize, or to ignorance of, all necessary facts. Thus, Hosea in pronouncing vengeance on the House of Jehu (i. 4), is not denouncing Jehu for obeying the command of Elijah as conveyed by Elisha. The ex­planation is given in 2 Kgs. x. 30 f. where the wilfulness of Jehu is exposed. And it is made still clearer by the prophetic denunciation of Baasha who provoked the Lord “in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he slew him.” By following in the sins of the House of Omri, Jehu’s House merited the same punishment. Yet Hosea is cited as an instance of a later prophet denouncing what an earlier prophet had expressly commanded!

The second essential of which we would speak, is that the Bible student should understand and accept the viewpoint of the Bible. Many of the diffi­culties which the “modern” student finds with the Bible are the direct result of failure to do this, or, to put it more strongly, of the determination to judge and interpret the Bible by standards which are contrary to its whole teaching.

The oft-repeated reference in the first chapter of Genesis to God and to His sovereign acts is tremendously impressive: He spake and it was done. The Bible is a record of God’s wonderful works for the children of men. No one can understand it who does not accept its great major premise— God—or who seeks to set limits to His power. The O.T. purports to be primarily the record of God’s special dealings with a peculiar people to the end that through that people all the nations might be blessed. The uniqueness of the religion of Israel, of the Covenant with Abraham, of the Law given through Moses, is affirmed again and again: “God hath not dealt so with any nation.” To study the religion of Israel in the light of comparative religion as though it were similar in kind to the ethnic faiths, is to reject its most insistent claim—“All the gods of the nations are idols (worthless things), but the Lord made the heavens.”

The religion of Israel is represented as the religion of revelation. God has revealed Himself in word and in deed. He has made known what man could not discover; He has wrought wonders beyond the power of man. Miracle and prophecy are, according to the Bible, signal proofs that God has manifested Himself. The supernatural is of its very essence. A student who rejects the supernaturalism of the Bible, treats its miracles as legend, and post-dates its prophecies or reduces them to shrewd conjecture, is taking offence at what the Bible declares to be, and what the Church in all ages has regarded as, a unique and convincing proof that God has indeed revealed Himself.

Finally the Bible is the story of redemption, of salvation from sin. John the Baptist sums up the Gospel and also shows it to be the fulfilment of O.T. religion with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The Old Testament plainly teaches that the priestly sacrifices of the Law were divinely ordained; and the New Testa­ment as plainly interprets them as prophetic of and fulfilled in the Cross of Calvary. To treat the priestly ritual as a survival of paganism and to affirm that it was repudiated by the “great” prophets of Israel leads logically to the rejection of the Cross which is the central fact of Chris­tianity, God’s sovereign remedy for sin.

In one of our great historic creeds the statement is made: “The infal­lible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself.” We need to remember this. “God is His own interpreter.” If the Bible is the Word of God, it must be our final authority; it cannot be correctly interpreted by any standards but its own. If its human authors were inspired of God, God’s Spirit will enable us to understand it aright, if we seek His guidance. To the wise of this world the Bible is a book of riddles, sealed with seven seals. It tells of a divine revelation, miraculously conveyed; they would have it speak of man’s eager quest of truth and of his wonderful discoveries. It tells of God’s great salvation for lost sinners; they would have it describe the development of man’s religious nature and its limitless possibilities. In short the “modern” student is trying to restate in terms of a more or less frankly naturalistic evolution what the Bible states in terms of superna­tural redemption. No wonder the “modern” student finds contradictions in the Bible and has to tear it chapter from chapter, verse from verse, and line from line, since he would so completely change its message. But those who study it reverently as the Word of God and seek the guidance of His Spirit will be more and more impressed with the harmony and the heavenliness of its glorious message of redeeming love in Jesus Christ our Lord.

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THE SPIRIT OF ERROR

J.G. VOS

Error is always with us. It assumes many forms and makes various appeals. The systems of falsehood are almost without number. There are errors as old as the ages, and there are errors of recent origin. Errors appear, disappear, and reappear, while the truth of God abides continually. So sporadic, indeed, have been the errors, and so constant is the truth, that some have concluded that all error, because it is error, is about to die; and that all truth, because it is truth, is sure to survive.

This conclusion is certainly fallacious. It is true that error often dies, and that the truth usually survives; but the error does not die because it is error, nor the truth survive because it is truth. If error dies, it is because the Holy Spirit has used means to cut it off. If the truth survives, it is because the Holy Spirit has used means to ensure its survival.RROR is always with us. It assumes many forms and makes various appeals. The systems of falsehood are almost without number. There are errors as old as the ages, and there are errors of recent origin. Errors appear, disappear, and reappear, while the truth of God abides continually. So sporadic, indeed, have been the errors, and so constant is the truth, that some have concluded that all error, because it is error, is about to die; and that all truth, because it is truth, is sure to survive.

Error will not die of itself, because the natural heart of man clings to it and loves it better than the truth. Idolatry, the worship of that which is not God, is almost as old as the race, and a large part of humanity still ad­heres to it, for the worship of the things that are seen appeals to the na­tural man. Christian Science, with its denial of the reality of sin, flatters the sinful heart of man. The idea of salvation by works, by character, by ideals, etc., appeals to the pride of man and conveniently removes the stumbling block of the cross of Jesus Christ. While the heart of man is what it is, these errors will never die of themselves.

Error will not die of itself, because Satan is actively engaged in its propagation. He is the father of lies, and there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own. Error traces its origin back to him, for he is a liar, and the father of it (John viii. 44). Errors and heresies are not indifferent things which come from nowhere; they are devised and propagated by the arch-enemy of the human race.

If error is to be overcome, it must be by active opposition on the part of those who acknowledge the truth. Christians must witness for the whole of revealed truth and oppose all contrary error. If we merely state the truth and neglect to point out and oppose the contrary error, we are not faithful witnesses. It is only as the truth is distinguished from error that its real character can be shown. The notion that we can forget about the error and merely preach the truth, that we can ignore “modernism” and meantime engage in “constructive” Christian work, is tragically mistaken. No doubt God could accomplish his purposes without using men as his instruments; no doubt he could bring about the victory of the truth without using our testimony, but He has called us to be his witnesses, and it is our duty to testify.

The visible Christian Church is divinely appointed to bear a corporate witness to revealed truth, and therefore also to discountenance error. Chris­tian students by their membership in the body of God’s witnessing people support the truth and oppose error. In our day, however, great sections of the Christian Church have abandoned their testimony to the truth and their opposition to error, and other great sections seem about to do so. Doc­trinal indifference is the first step; open toleration of error is the conse­quence. On this account Christian students should consider earnestly and carefully the question of their relation to a particular branch of the Chris­tian Church, for membership in a witnessing church is itself a witnessing act, and membership in a church which tolerates error involves, to some extent at least, a tacit approbation of such toleration.

The League of Evangelical Students is essentially a witnessing body. We declare that we “bear united witness to the faith of students in the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God,” (Constitution, Article II, Sec­tion i). Those only are eligible for membership in the League who have “faith in the Bible as the infallible Word of God” and who accept “the fundamental truths of the Christian religion,” (Constitution, Article III, Section i). Let us not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. Let us not fear the charge of intolerance. God has commanded his people to wit­ness for the truth, but he has never commanded them to tolerate error. If we who have banded ourselves together into a League to witness for the truth and against error, are on that account called narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, or even unchristian, let us call to mind the words of the Lord Jesus which are recorded in Matthew v. x I: “Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

Remember to praise God quite as much as to pray.

[excerpted from The English Presbyterian Messenger, New Series, No. 156 (December 1860): 375-376. Emphasis added.]

Some of our readers will peruse the following letter with interest and profit. It was not written for publication, but the Lord may make it useful for the edification of his own people. The friend who kindly sent it to us says :—

“ The enclosed letter, from a deeply tried and experienced Christian in Scotland, was sent to me the other day, along with two others, for my perusal. If you think with me that it is valuable, and can find space for it in “The Messenger,” it may, perhaps, prove a blessing to some souls. I have copied it, and I forward it to you almost entirely as I received it. You can do with it as you think proper.”

I——–, October 19th, 1800.

My Dear. Brother, — I was very glad to receive your kind and interesting letter. I value exceedingly the Christian friendship and brotherhood which the Lord permits me to enjoy. I value exceedingly your own ; but I desire grace ever to refer it all to the fountain, and to be flung back more than ever on the inestimable friendship of the Blessed One.

Dear brother, if it be sweet to have a friend—another poor, trembling heart like our own, to whom we can unbosom sorrow, assured that all will be looked at through the medium of a loving eye, and where no help can be given, sympathy, at least, will be felt; if this be precious, who can tell the preciousness of the sympathizing love of Jesus, who can feel as well as help, who can deal with us so gently and so wisely. No eye scans us with such gentle love as Jesus. Oh to have faith always as well in the love of his heart as in the power of his hand.

There is a little matter I would like to bring before you, dear brother, as having been used of the Lord to be exceedingly helpful to me; and although, perhaps, not needing it so much as I was, it may possibly be useful to you. Its benefit to me is incalculable. It is simply this. Remember to praise God quite as much as to pray. Now this is clearly scriptural. You will find in Scripture far more exhortations to praise than to prayer. The Psalms abound with them, line upon line, line upon line. God is served by praise, Psalm 50. 23. It is specially the Christian’s great service. Heb. xiii. 15 ; 1 Peter ii. 5—9. Now in looking at my own conduct in reference to this, I found it sadly neglected. My heart was little attuned to the blessed service of thanksgiving. I had infinite cause for thankfulness, but, alas! a thankless heart. I have sought to have this altered, and with happy results. I seek the spirit of praise quite as much as of prayer, and desire to cherish the feeling of happy thankfulness for mercies enjoyed, as well as believing prayer for mercies needed. Ofttimes when my cold heart cannot get into communion through the gates of prayer, I turn to the gate of praise, and in a minute or two am in the glorious presence. In certain states of soul, when the enemy rushes on me like Behemoth, and threatens to swallow me up, I fall down on my knees, and drawing near to God, through Jesus, begin to thank God for his mercies. And as the heart goes over the boundless and glorious list, it begins to glow, and the enemy is driven off. Ofttimes five minutes’ praise is blessed with a success that an hour’s praying fails to receive. Now, we have always matter for thankfulness ; and however low we are, let us begin there and come to God in our reality, and praise Him heartily for whatever blessing we feel laid on our hearts, I mean blessing in Christ Jesus. And oh, as faith gazes on that face, brighter than the sun in his strength, and listens to that voice, soft as the murmur of many waters, telling out the tenderness of His grace, the soul becomes as the chariots of Amminadib, and is caught up into heaven and brought very near. There is never between us and the joy of God’s presence any wall but the wall of unbelief. Alas, that we ever cherish and fondle it, and do our blessed Saviour, and the brethren, and ourselves this great wrong. For God is glorified, and others are helped, and our souls are blessed, precisely as we live in happy fellowship with our heavenly Father.

Dear brother, you may know all about this far better than I do, yet I would like to suggest your trying what benefit you might find in seeking to abound in faith with thanksgiving. Say that for a week you give up your heart to praise God for Jesus in all the relations in which you feel you can lay hold on him. In business, let your heart glance up every spare half-minute, just in a gleam of thankfulness, and one word of praise. By the way, to and from home, give up your heart to praise alone. At table let your wife and yourself provoke each other to gratitude and praise, by conversing on the excellencies of Jesus, and of Jesus as all your own. This does not interfere with your seasons of prayer. And, after the week, I am sure you will see occasion to seek God’s gift of the spirit of praise, as well as of prayer. When I blow out my candle in the evening, and sit gazing into the red coals for an hour, and letting the heart wander amid all the revelations of Divine love, back into a past eternity, forward into a coming eternity, to Calvary, to heaven ; taking everything only in connection with Jesus, and with Jesus as God’s gift to me, my heart begins to burn within me, selfish and temporal griefs disappear, Jesus himself fills my heart; and if any one were to offer me a kingdom for every sorrow I have, I could at such times scarcely manage honestly to muster a single one.

Dear brother, try it. When Satan casts us into prison, and puts our feet fast in the stocks, let us sing praises to God at midnight, and very soon God will send his angel, and there shall be an earthquake, and our chains shall fall off, and our souls be restored to liberty. “ O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness! ” Yes, that is our crying want, the want of a heart ever attuned to this blessed work of heaven.

With heartiest love, … I am, my dear brother,

Yours, humbly and affectionately,
J. D.

[excerpted from The English Presbyterian Messenger, New Series, No. 156 (December 1860): 375-376.]

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