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have the virtues and the services of Washington been celebrated from the pulpit, and from the rostrums
- Why are we again assembled ? and why is the tomb uncos vered ? It is that we may all take another looki This is the birth-day of the beloved inan. Was there no other which could have been chosen than that on which we have so frequently rejoiced ? It is kindly intended to give indulgence to our sorrow, to teach us that no character is exempt from the stroke of death, and especially to induce our submission to the will, and our ado. ration of that Almighty Being who “ gave and who hath taken away.”
We find from the earliest records of time, that the practice has been usual in all ages and in all nations, of honoring those who were distinguished by their excellence, and were esteemed public blessings. Trophies have been decreed to them while living, and at their decease their bodies have been sometimes embalmed ; monuments, elegies and funeral orations have per: petuated the memory of their honorable deeds.
This has a happy tendency to ensure a noble and virtuous conduct, and to excite the imitation of others. The love of fame, when subordinate to the general good of mankind, is ins separable from him who is truly great; and he carries his views beyond the grave to the reward which posterity shall bestow. Were there then no other reason for praising the illustrious dead, this would be sufficient.
But there is an obligation of still higher moment. Eminent men are qualified for their work by God. They are his servants. In honoring them, we honor Him. It is true that the heathen glorified not God, but substituted creatures in his room; and there is danger that even we, with the clearest revelation, may be guilty of idolatry in not lifting up our hearts to Him from whom « cometh down every good gift, and every perfect gift." Let us ascribe the glory to God, and we may safely extol the man whose loss this day we deplore.
-- AMERICA claims as her own, one who was justly the admiration of the world. . And shall she be silent in his praise ? Perhaps silence would have best expressed the merits of him who is beyond all eulogy. The language of mortals can with difficulty, if ever, reach so noble a theme. The name is above what Grecian or Roman story presents, and it would require more than Grecian or Roman eloquence to do it justice. One advantage indeed it possesses, that hardly any thing can be said which will be thought extravagant; and what would, in other cases, be deemed flattery, will sink far below the conceptions of the public mind. Flattery was ever confounded in the presence of Washington, nor will it dare to approach his ashes. That humility, however, which was the constant ornament of his virtues, should not now obstruct the offerings of a feeling and grateful people at his shrine. 'Nay, they rush with greater eagerness to testify their sense of his transcendent and inestimable worth.
To the historian it belongs to relate in full, the birth, the education, the early and the later atchievements of George Washington. From the historic page we expect a minute description of his civil and military, of his public and private life. Though a simple recital of these might be the highest enco. mium, and it might be said,
“ Rais'd of themselves, their genuine charms they boast,
" And those wbo paint tbem truest, praise them most ;" * yet they would lead the speaker into too large a field ; he would not know what to select, and what to refuse, where all powerfully solicited his regard. Let history or biography, at present, serve only to develope and illustrate the character.
When God in his adorable providence intends to accomplish some glorious work upon earth, he provides and prepares his instruments among the children of men. Who does not see that Moses, by the manner in which he was preserved, the instruction which he received, and the habits of life to which he was inured, was fitted to lead the people of Israel? Who, that Cya
* Addison's Campaign.
rus, had we not been expressly informed, was “ girded by the Lord ?" The intention is frequently hidden from tlie persons themselves, and may not be obvious to others; though they will sometimes discern presages of future greatness. Washo ' ington was endued from his youth with a military spirit. When a stripling, like David, he encountered the enemies of his coun. try. His first destination was to enter as a midshipman in a British vessel of war. This was happily prevented, that so, instead of the admiral, lie might become the general. He gave such early and uncommon indications of heroism as occasioned public mention of him by an eminent divine, in a discourse de. livered soon after Braddock's defeat. * The subject was religion and patriotism. “ As a remarkable instance,” said he, “ I may point out to the public that heroic youth colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner, for some important service to his country." We will not call these words prophetic, but they have been repeatedly quoted as a testimony of the budding honors of the American hero,
God prepared his servant, and in due time opened to him a · vast scene, on which all his talents had their utmost exertion, and expanded in full display. It having become necessary for America to oppose by force the unjust pretensions of Britain, he was elected a member of the great council, and soon after unanimously appointed commander in chief of the armies. This honor his modesty forbade him to seek, and his love of country would not allow him to refuse. The choice was directed by heaven. “I feel great distress,” said he on his acceptance of the command, “from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust: however, as the congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty; and exert every power I possess in their sera vice, and for support of the glorious cause." Modesty ever accompanies great merit; and diffidence of abilities, when it
* The Reo. Samuel Davies then settled in Virginia, and afa terwards president of the college of New- Jerseye
casts not into despondency, excites vigilance, and rouses ener, gies of soul concealed from the possessor himself,
GENERAL WASHINGTON had not seen much military ser. vice, and what he had seen was on a small scale. His army for a long time was undisciplined, and continually changing by temporary enlistments, or impatient' militia; and sometimes he had scarcely the shadow of an army. He was destitute of the necessaries for their support, and of the instruments of war. He was called to create before he could command. In this situation he had to oppose the numerous and formidable. legions of Britain, amply supplied with all the apparatus of death, and led on by the most renowned generals. The hero of Monongahela and the planter of Potowmac, nobly enters the list ; snatches the laurels which had been gathered in Europe to adorn his own brow,
To estimate properly the merits of a general, we must atten, tively consider the circumstances in which he is placed, and the means in his power. The American leader was never at the head of such armies as cover the fields of Europe. No; with a naked and distressed handful, he kept the enemy in terror ; imposed on them by a parade of numbers and strength; now sought security in retreat ; and now dared the fight; “ swifter than an eagle and stronger than a lion." He who thus baffled the acknowledged skill and bravery of Britons, would, furnished with the means of war, march to the remotest ends of the earth,
We are willing to listen to the highest strains in favor of British valor, because these redound to the honor of our chief, Every wreath which is woven, is transferred to him. Either pur invaders would not, or they could not subdue us. If they wc uld not, then they were unfaithful to their trust; if they wuld not, then the barrier was the American arms. Will any rather chuse to compromise the matter, by resolving the inde, pendence of America into the decree of heaven? Great God, wę adore thy just decree! To thee was the appeal made ! Thoy didst fight for us ! In transport we cry, “ The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon,"
PERMIT me to say that he whose obsequies we perform, had advantages which few enjoy. The cause in which he engaged was of the most exalted kind, and he was deeply penetrated with its justice and importance. He undertook not from motives of ambition or gain, but from the pure love of country, to which he continually sacrificed his ease, his safety and his life,
His attention to the duties of his station was incessant. In the field no opportunity escaped him to harrass or attack the enemy; and he was never found unapprehensive of their designs, or unprepared to meet them. In winter quarters he revolved and digested the operations of the next campaign. He was not seen indulging in 'the amusements of a theatre, dissipating his time at a gaming table, or reclining on the lap of a Delilah. His bed at camp was often hard. He often laid down in his daily dress. * His horse stood equipped near him. Or, he sat in council. Or, he examined the vigilance of his posts. Or, he penned the dispatch. The concerns of America wholly occupied his mind. Americans, you may well love him, for he saved you much blood and treasure. He watched for your safety while you slept.
His patience and perseverance were unexampled. To be obliged to retreat is at all times humiliating to a general, and dangerous to his fame. To him solely is calamity imputed. Though in conducting a retreat, the greatest skill is often displayed ; yet this and the necessity are not generally known; and a people animated with the love of liberty, are apt to be suspicious. Here was the great trial of Washington, and here a principal trait in his military character. He retreated from Long-Island in the face of a far superior foe. He retreaped from New-York island in the face of total ruin. And he car, ried the small and dejected remains of his army; one while presenting a feeble front to the enemy, and another while retreat
* The night after the battle of Monmouth, be « reposed bimself in bis cloak, under a tree, in bopes of renewing the action the next day,” Ramsay's History,