"Appealing to the Being who searches thoroughly the heart, ... Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause," says a petition to the king in 1774. That same petition makes mention of "that grand tribunal before which all mankind must submit to judgment."1
"Appealing to the Being who searches thoroughly the heart," says a petition to the king in 1774, "we solemnly profess that our councils have been influenced by no other motives than a dread of impending destruction. We doubt not the purity of our intention and the integrity of our conduct will justify us at that grand tribunal before which all mankind must submit to judgment."
"Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free."
"If it were possible for men, who exercise their reason, to believe that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence that this dreadful authority over them had been granted to that body."
"The Bills of Rights of the colonies sparkle with sentiments of humanity, of right, of liberty. The papers and resolves of the old colonial legislatures had in them that which fed the deep love of liberty in the human soul. The remonstrances addressed to the throne, the letters of eminent men, the declarrations of Congress, were all aglow with a divine enthusiasm."
All the state papers emanating from these Christian men were not only replete with political wisdom, but were, in spirit and sentiment, Christian. Lord Chatham, in the British Parliament, says of them, —
"When your lordships look at the papers transmitted from America, — when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, — you cannot but respect their cause and wish to make it your own. For myself, I must declare and avow that in all my reading and observation, — and it has been my favorite study, — I have read Thucydides, and have studied and admired the master states of the world, — that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of difficult circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress in Philadelphia. I trust it is obvious to your lordships that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, must be vain, must be fatal."
Mr. Webster said he never could read this splendid eulogy on the men and state papers of the Revolutionary era without weeping.
Webster also said, ''At that day there could not be found convened on the surface of the globe an equal number of men possessing such enlightened views of government or animated by a higher and a more patriotic motive. They were men full of the spirit of the occasion, imbued deeply with the general sentiment of the country, of large comprehension, long foresight, and of few words. They made no speeches for ostentation; they sat with closed doors, and their great maxim was, 'faire. sans dire.'
" They knew the history of the past, and were alive to all the difficulties and all the duties of the present, and they acted from the first as if the future was all open before them. In such a constellation it would be invidious to point out bright particular stars. Let me only say, what none will consider injustice to others, that George Washington was one of that number. "
The proceedings of this assembly were introduced by religious observances and devout supplications to the throne of grace for the inspirations of wisdom and the spirit of good counsel.
"Regarding the public characters who presided over our affairs during the stormy period of the war, and those on whom was devolved the yet more difficult and even more important duty of creating a system of government for the republic they have conducted to independence, we cannot refrain from a conviction that they were specially called to their high mission by a wise and an all-beneficent Providence. The extraordinary intelligence and virtue displayed in the Continental Congress were recognized by sagacious and dispassionate observers throughout the world. Mirabeau, the great French statesman, spoke of it as a company of demi-gods."
- 1. pp. 168-170