Sunday, July 4, 2010

all its glory-Christian Patriotism concluded...

Happy Independence Day.  John Adams, a vital part of that independence, is remembered by Nathaniel Frothingham in this third and concluding part of the sermon, "Christian Patriotism" given on the occasion of the death of Adams.

"That metaphysical benevolence, which professes a general interest in God's creatures, and yet passes over the most natural objects of regard, and makes no account of the obvious relations of society, is either a dream, or a deception. There has never been so much heard of it as during the triumphs of a cold-hearted philosophy, and, in those wild times of political fanaticism, when the sweetest charities of life were trodden under foot.

We must advance from particulars to a great result. That which is the most perfect is the last to be produced. The good man must first win the qualities of a good son, a good friend, a good citizen, and these will lead him up to be worthy of that higher name. It is an inconceivable abuse of language to speak of the philanthropy of one, who is held by no moral ties to his brethren, and the community to which he belongs.

I have been led to speak on this topic by the death of an illustrious patriot, who joined to the noblest endowments of that character, the virtues that adorn common life. A champion of his country,  a student of religious truth and a devout friend of our religious institutions,— more than a patriarch to the tribes of our Israel,—we have " buried him with his fathers." It is little to say that his memory is fresh in all our minds to-day. The great nation is doing it honour, as fast as the tidings can be conveyed that he has ceased from among us. A long posterity will treasure it up, and call it blessed. Such a wide-spread sensation, as is now making its way from border to border of our continent, has seldom attended the death of a private individual, retired long from the cares of state and the busy parade of life, with no titles but his services, no opulence but his worth, no power but his fame, and no honours to crown his head but those which ninety useful years had scattered upon it. We have no occasion to say one to another, with David at the funeral of Abner,— " Know ye not that a prince and a great man has fallen in Israel ?" Every one acknowledges it.— Every one feels that he had the nobility of desert, and that he was great among the sons of men, alike by what he achieved at first, and by the signal blessings that followed him to the day of his death like a reward and a manifest testimony from heaven. He is gathered to his people,—one of the last of a noble band, among whom he was a leader. There is no one left, to whose exertions this land is so deeply indebted for its independence. We look round on its free institutions, its growing strength, its multiplied resources, its all but miraculous spread and prosperity, and his venerable name is associated with all its glory.

Happy man ! to have been permitted to take a chief part in events that will never be forgotten. Happy ! to have been spared so long beyond the natural term of human life, that he might see the consequences of what he had accomplished, and hear the gratitude of millions breathing through the shades of his retirement. Happy ! to have retained to the end the strong faculties of his mind, instead of exhibiting that most humiliating of spectacles, an imbecile and doting age settling down on a high spirit, as if in derision of a life of renown. Happy ! after the days of his political influence were long past, to look upon his own son at the head of the counsels of this mighty confederacy. Happy to his last breath ! to have given it up on the anniversary of his greatest work and triumph, the day of a whole nation's jubilee ;—to have given it up in such an hour, as if it had waited to be borne off on the acclamations of the people, and the festival fires of liberty.

His eulogy is in the hearts of his countrymen. I have no further tribute to pay to his memory, but that of silent admiration at his character, his actions, and his fortune."


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