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while we here behold the whole Jewish nation, with one consent, and as by one instantaneous impulse, assuming the aspect, and exhibiting the tokens of the deepest affliction and mourning, on account of the death of their late king Josiah ; who was one of the worthiest and best, that ever reigned over them; and whose life, from his earliest years, had been employed, under the influence of the purest and noblest principles, in proinoting the temporal and religious interests of his people.
This good king was yet in the midst of his days, or in the vigor of his age, when it was his lot to receive a fatal wound, in a battle, to which he was probably led, by the terms of his alliance with the king of Israel, who was then tributary to the king of Babylon; and therefore bound to engage on the side of that monarch, in the war which was commenced against him by the king of Egypt. Of this wound Josiah died, immediately after his return to Jerusalem; and thus the flattering, and apparently well founded hopes of his people, for a much longer continuance of his reign, and of the multiplied blessings which they derived from it, were suddenly terminated in the most gloomy and painful disappointment.
An event, so calamitous, might well be expected to diffuse the most afflicting sensations through the body of the nation ; for whose welfare he had shewn so early, so zealous, and so constant a concern. Accordingly, the sacred historian here informs us—that “ All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah." The inhabitants of every part of the country, concurring with those of the capital city, the place of the royal residence, in every becoming affecting demonstration of sorrow, under this heavy national calamity,
It is added, that Jeremiah the prophet, particularly lamented for Josiah. This venerable prophet, became a servant of God, under that peculiar sacred character which he sustained, was penetrated with the deepest grief for the loss of a prince, whose pious cares, and indefatigable exertions, were especially directed to the advancement of the cause of religion and virtue: a cause with which the peace and prosperity, and all the great interests of every community, as well as of every individual, are essentially and inseparably connected. And it is also mentioned, as another memorable circumstance of this national mourning for Josiah, that it was long perpetuated, by the institution of certain "solemn services, including, particularly, some elegiac compositions set to plaintive music, in commemoration of an event, so mournful in its nature, and so afflicting in its consequences.
In the history of mankind we shall often find a remarkable similarity of events and circumstances, occurring in the most distant countries and periods of time,
With this memorable mourning of the Jewish nation, for the loss of their eminently worthy and amiable Josiah ;-how striking is the resemblance, that appears in the universal, unfeigned mourning, now exhibited by the American people, for the loss of their great, and excellent, and beloved WASHINGTON; whose life was one of the most valuable blessings of a beneficent Providence to his country, and whose death is justly lamented, as a great national affliction.
When the man, whom God in his good providence, was pleased to honor, as the most distinguished instrument in his hand, for securing to the people of Amerima, the liberty, civil and religious--the independence
the peace, and the prosperity, in the enjoyment of which, they are at this day, apparently, the most favored, and happy nation in the world.' When he, who, obedient to the voice of his country, repeatedly, and with.magnanimous self-denial, exchanged his beloved domestic pursuits and enjoyments, for the most arduous stations of public trust and service : And in those stations victoriously led our armies through the vicissitudes of a most difficult and perilous revolutionary war ; and ably, and successfully presided in the executive department of our national government, during many of the most eventful years of an unexampled, and awfully portentous crisis in Europe, in which our political and commercial interests were deeply involved. When he, who in the favorite scenes of private life, in which he delighted to pass his tranquil days, whenever the safety and glory of his country permitted, displayed the beauty and loveliness of those finer feelings, and accomplishments, which dignify and adorn the gentleman, the philosopher, the friend, and the domestic character. When he, in a word, who first vindicated our rights, as men and christians, with his sword; and then shielded them from the envious, hostile designs of powerful foreign nations, and the turbulence of restless intestine factions, by the wisdom of his counsels, the equity, moderation, and firmness of his measures ; and who uniformly shone pre-eminent in great talents, in disinterested patriotism, and in the lustre of his public and private virtues and usefulness :
- When such a man is removed by the supreme, righteous Disposer of all things, from every station of honorable trust, and important service among his fellow mortals--and from all the scenes of mortality ;-surely, it well becomes the nation, of which he was one of the brightest ornaments, and greatest benefactors, to mourn with the feelings of undissembled, deep, and lasting sorrow !
In such a sorrow all the citizens of the United States, who really love their country-with many in other nations, who possess the sensibilities of a feeling heart, and the genuine spirit of philanthropy, will bear a tender sympathetic part; and sincerely mourn the father of his country, the patron of liberty, the friend of humanity-fallen under that stroke of death, to which the greatest, and most illustrious, equally with the feeblest, and most obscure of the human race, must finally bow.
Of the general mourning, which the death of a man, so eminently and honorably distinguished in life, might well be expected to produce the most unequivocal tokens are exhibited, wherever the melancholy tidings of it have been spread abroad. The customary badges of grief, which indicate a near and valued friend departed ; together with the various, more public and solemn expressions of a nation's sorrows, proclaim, in the most affecting, and impressive language, that our illustrious and beloved WASHINGTON is numbered with the dead; and that his country sensibly feels, and sincerely mourns, the deeply interesting, and afflicting event !
That the sorrows, which we share in common with our fellow-citizens, throughout the union, and with the friends of liberty and humanity generally, under this bereaving dispensation of Divine Providence, may be brought under the guidance of sober reflection and true wisdom, and directed to some useful ends.
I shall endeavour, in the process of this discourse,
1. Why the death of great and worthy men, who have been eminently useful in their day, and especially in exalted stations of public trust and service, ought to be lamented; and,
II. What profitable improvement may be made of the event, which is the occasion of the present general mourning of our country.
I. Why the death of great and worthy men, who have been eminently useful in their day, and especially in exalted stations of public trust and usefulness, ought to be lamented.
Now the death of such men may well be lamented.
1. On account of the many and great evils which they are instrumental in averting from a people.
In the present fallen state of human nature, the passions of men, their pride, their ambition--their avarice, their love of criminal pleasure ; in a word, their selfishness, strongly impel them to deeds of injustice, oppression,—and violence. By these vicious dispositions, individuals are often stimulated to bitter and deadly contentions ;--and communities, and nations, are plunged into all the outrages and calamities of public, and long protracted wars. If left to follow the impulse of these corrupt propensities of their fallen nature, without restraint or opposition, a few of the strongest and most unprincipled, bringing others, by force or artifice, into a subserviency to their views, would not hesitate, with the aid of such instruments of their will, to invade the rights, to seize the possessions, to sacrifice the lives of their fellow-men, in any extent which they might think expedient, or find practicable, to the accomplishment of their own base and oriminal purposes.