Download Full Text (15.5 MB)


Chase's sermon is intended for the fourth of July. He praises the founding fathers' virtues and cautions against Americans falling to the same vices of European countries. Vices like greed and seeking of pleasure that would result in a end to liberty. He point out that America's young age and geographical separation from Europe benefit it in this endeavor to remain virtuous and true to the principles of the Bible which the nation was founded on.




Fourth of July, Sermon, Virtues, Vices, Europe, America, Philander Chase Jr.


My Christian Brothers,

Assembled as we now are for the purpose of commemorating the return of this the birth-day of our common country, and congratulating one another upon the sure possession of the blessings secured to us by the courage and virtue of our forefathers, it might seem proper for me on this occasion to consider the causes which led to the development of our ever memorable Revolution, and the courts which brought that revolution to a successful issue. These events however as they speak the bests eulogy of those who alchieved [sic] our independence, so they have been at all periods of our national existence, develt upon with a proper degree of enthusiasm and force. They have become in this way as it were [weighed] with our character as Americans, and the [?]edge of these woven into the first principles of our education. And if the science of what our forefathers have done for us, were all that is required of us to perpetuate the blessings thus obtained, we [alternatively] should not be accused of neglecting our duty in this particular:

In fact if any remark, upon a review of our situation, strikes me as obvious it is this that we all of us require more to know what is to be, than what has been done. They who once at the hazard of all that is held dear by men stepped forth in the arduous contest which we this day celebrate, are now fast disappearing from our sights down the irreversible and fast, gliding stream of time: which the principles that upheld and the feelings that animated this will soon be called for as alone enabling us to preserve what they with so much glory and at so great hazards obtained. Every day’s experience serves to convince us that it was no common and ordinary blessing which was by the events of our Revolution obtained for us: and that the world is at this day not indifferent spectator of the means we use to perpetuate and serve that blessing. It is a spectacle not doubt highly gratifying, to every reflecting mind to behold a nation, which had never before known its own strength boldly stepping forth to that contest with a colossal power, and struggling, under every disadvantage, for a succession of year in the animating contest for political freedom: — But it is a more profitable, tho’ perhaps a less [glaring] picture, that of a nation, perpetuating and securing this blessing to the latest generation, by the wisdom and prudence of its institutions and the virtue and integrity of its citizens.

Recent events among the nations of the earth may serve to convince us that freedom may, at not great cost be obtained by those who are strenuous in asserting and [undaunted] in the act of contending for it. And the same events too teach us, that it requires more stability and shall I say it more manly virtue than falls to the share of the generality of the nations of Europe, to secure and maintain the freedom. So that, were I asked the reason why so few of the nations of the earth are in possession of that liberty and freedom they all acknowledge so desirable, the answer is obvious, because so few do serve to possess and are capable of maintaining that freedom. To bring the remark home to ourselves, we may rest assured, that [ardently] as we are attached to the principles of our constitution, and proud as we justly are of the privileged we possess, yet [whenever], we love that character, which as a nation we have hitherto maintained, and partake of the degrading vices of the greater part of the nations of Europe, we shall fail as they have done in maintaining our independence. The moment we begin to seek after pleasure and wealth more than honesty and virtue, and wish rather to be amused and entertained, than instructed and and amended, that [moment] our character as men, and our privileges as freemen are lost. This is a truth, which every page of history both ancient and modern confirms, — the seem and substance [induced] of everything that is related in the story of Grecian Glory and Grecian degradation, of Roman power and Roman corruption. Happy will that republic be in modern days which shall teach her songs, to profits — by the [?] lessons which the history of these nations provide out, and the invariable nature of God’s Providence demonstrates.

With these remarks [pressurised], you are prepared instead of political discussion upon the passing events of the day, to which both from my station and my feelings I am very averse, to listen to a detail of some of the peculiar causes which have thus far contributed, and I hope will long contribute to preserve our independence. In making this [communication], should do the remarks you hear be deduced distribute of novelty, you must remember that to Americans at least our subjects is by no means a new one; no should any of your recognize any of my remarks as having been escaped me on a former though a different occasion, you will not, I presume [deem] the same observations misplaced now.

The first peculiarity these to which we may look for the security of our present blessings arises from out great [record] and fortunate distance from other nations. It is not by this we are safe from the calamities of war or the horrors of invasion that I have alluded to this: but because by this happy distance, we are in less danger of being injured by the profligate example and the ever vating contagion of other less virtuous nations; a species of invasion for more dangerous in tendency than any which war would bring upon us. The latter we could repel with ease by our [?] and inherent strength. The former has undermined and destroyed even sterner virtue than our own. If ever we as a nation become corrupted by European example, it must by their means through whose medium we have the communication. Happily there for us our distance from other nations less favoured than ourselves is so great that the number of those who bring contamination home with them is comparatively very small — It is indeed truly lamentable, and I have seen cause for this lamentation too often, how much harm may be done to our country, by an importation of the unmanly vices of other nations — Many have I seen and more have I heard of — could their number view less, why bring home to our own country all vices all the modes of fantastic accuse merit of Italy and not a Roman virtue among; who bring to our woods and fertile fields, every fantastic fashion, and barbarous innovation, and not a manly grow our honorable improvement among them. When contemplating this unhappy courses of things how often here I wished that it were as possible for us by a sort of moral quarantaine, to prevent the pollution of European vices, as it is to hinder the contagion of their disorders.

Happily got us the spirits and the honest character of our country has hitherto prevented such examples as I have been speaking of from being universal — and will one quarter of the earth’s circumference between us and there we may long hope for the same exemption.

The next happy peculiarity in our own country to which we may look for future as we have done for past safety is that it is a new country an advantage is true which in itself is ever day growing less: but which will continue to exert a [beneficial] influence on the happiness of our country for many ages to come; in comparison with what is possessed by other nations. This advantage is something analogous to what the young enjoy in the blessing if the health and vigour attendance on that period of life. It is a situation which ensures our activity and calls forth all the powers both of the mind and body of our countrymen; and leads us necessarily to be industrious in the search of a competency, than to covet luxury or pine in hopeless and unavailing poverty. It [pieces] together with the spirit of certain institutions consequent on this state that happy equilibrium of wealth, which insures to all our equal degree of [respect] whose virtues have equally deserved it with others. Our country being thus new and our territory unfilled 2 means of attaining competency being thus open to all, we have, thank God other employment than that of [torturing] our ingenuity to find out new modes of sinning, or ransacking the archives of pleasure to discover unheard of methods of squandering inordinate wealth. Here it is that we are adding every year new acquisitions to that stock which is the support of man. Here the forests hear the unknown sound of the axe in their deepest recesses even every year till thousand fields brighten with [uncounted] verdure, and feel for the first time the benign rays of the sun. Here it is that the farmer in our country goes forth to his daily toil among the wonders and the works of God and which his eye roamed over the spacious landscape and the flowering field and the ripening harvest meets his eye at every turn, he can prompted by the gratitude of a full heart exclaim “this is all my own” — To him the palace is not hard by, where lordly owner rolls in wealth, earned by the sweat of another’s brow.

It is to our new and peculiar situation that we have learned to live without the thousand adventitious helps which wealth and luxury deem indispensable contributors to their enjoyments. The desires of a man increase with his possessions: and for every acquired and gratified wish twofold more will arise equally saving equally necessary. Happy the more them who sees but little to wish for by having learned to be contented with little. Having seen avarice close the hand, and every [?] and consumed the [serts] of the purse-proud inhabitant of the palace, you would hardly look for the contented or the happy man there So: depend upon it you may often find him the tenant of a cabin in our darkest woods or turning the furrows of our wildest lands. Ostentatious form of enforced civility the flimsy covering of an envious or a hollow heart laboured professing of unfelt attachment exhibited through fear or demanded by custom are thank God little known among us. That civility only which gives age and virtue their proper respect or tendencies and affection their pass or expression is demanded of us. We have not yet learned that affection which is, the consequence of frivolous occupations or that haughtiness which flows from [unhumbled] pride bringing it as rather what is or is to be than as what it has been. You see here the mind of man gradually acquiring new strength. You see it proves gradually unfolding — you see it compelled by necessity (styled the mother of innovation) to rely upon itself and drawing from the stores of knowledge that supply which others obtain by numbers only. In a word you see your own country in a state of progression. Look abroad, and you see, with few exceptions and you see nations in ruins. You behold the mind of man cramped and fettered by prejudice and by power. You behold nations and more celebrations not for their own virtues but the virtues of those long since dead.

He history is long, and well adorned which recounts their father’s glories: but the compart which their own occupy is short indeed. You discover enough indeed to show you what those were, who were long since buried in the grace and enough also to convince you that their virtues are buried with them. They who remain are indeed aptly represented by the broken pillars or the headless statue: for that uprightness and virtue which was from the grace and ornament and that strength which was the glory of their forefathers no longer dwell among them — You see them from the proudest title to the meanest beggar engaged in a [giddy] and unsatisfying pursuit of sensual gratification; enquiring not “who will show us any good?”, but “who will show us any pleasure?” When you M.B. hear the sickening tale of their vices and frivolity, if you have any relish for the honest and [homebred] virtues, which adorn your own country, then bless God that oceans roll and storms and tempests rage between you.

Another advantage, to which we may confidently look for safety, and a security of the blessings we possess is the generally diffusion of knowledge throughout our country. An advantage which all know will be earnest to preserve [?] of experimentally its value. In this respect the American far excels any nation now in existence. Immersed in darkness and cheated misled and beguiled by those who should know it is no wonder that other nations should fail in putting forth that strength in asserting their freedom, which a little more knowledge would convince them they posses. Were it a necessary or a novel subject I might here descent upon the necessity of this general diffusion of knowledge; as it immediately guards us from any dangerous announcement on the principles of our own constitution. But this consideration has long been familiar to our minds. Permit me then to say what from my station, I rejoice at the opportunity of saying, that the very general diffusion of on look the Bible, will contribute more than any other means, arising from this source nay more than all other principles put together to the preservation of firm and manly principle — the security of that virtue and integrity which alone more than power can make us respected and feared by the nations of the earth, or blessed and prospered by the God we worship. So political principle, no artificial ligaments can so bind and unite us together, or contribute one thousandth part so much to our national as well as individual happiness as the principles derived from this sacred source. A love of peace, a love of order, sobriety, and industry, of integrity, the first of national virtues are taught by this sacred volume — To tell you that those who achieved our independence and who preserved in so doing the happy the blessed medium between tyranny and anarchy were animated by the principles of this sacred book, would be telling you what you already know. That its principles moderated the views and guided the best efforts of the political Father of this country you also know — Happy thrice happy indeed will our nation become, [?] by a constant reference to the sacred contents of the Bible, we so moderate our national spirits as to pressure order and respect to rightful and righteous authority — to love virtuous habits more than luxury and wealth and industry and temperance more than riot and dissipation.

That God has blessed us in the means of enjoyments and national happiness and security, from the few hasty remarks thus offered to you — you cannot but perceive — The result of it all is this: that as long as we preserve that national character as which is was our own, though far from perfect, so far shall we be and continue to be as we have hitherto been blessed in the usual and ordinary dispensation of Divine Providence. National virtue and vices each only meet this proper retribution as Nation in this world. And he has looked upon the affairs of the world with no elevated vices who does not see the effects of this just and righteous retribution in every event that has befallen the nations of Europe within our own and the memory of our fathers. He is but a fool who does not see that the warm suns and dear skies, the olives and the vineyard of Italy avail nought to their happiness — sunk, degraded and [?] as they are in the search for sensual pleasure and fantastic amusements. Where we like them begin to love pleasure vanity more than industrious habits, and gaudy glitter more contentment and compliance then we too shall barter our honesty for gold, our liberties for a song — then will other nations dictate our laws and subvert our institutions at their pleasure.

Let us then remember that one nation at heard more powerful and more rumoured than we ourselves are has once inhabited that fertile fields before us. Where are they now? Who is there left to tell the tale — who to sing their heroine deeds in the measured numbers, or who shall we fold the histoire page that recounts their origin, or their fall —

Their very name has perished from the [earth] — this truth survives alone — That the Lord God Almighty holds the [answers] of the earth at his disposals —, his power can destroy as his it was that created them —

And however fondly we may wish or suppose ourselves to be the favorites of [Heaven], we may [restassured] that we shall be so no longer than we pressure united love of liberty with our love of law, our attachment to our country with our attachment to virtue — When we forget to do this then may we also be swept from the face of the earth — and the red savage of the woods alone wanders over the monuments of our power and grandeur and glory.

Let us mingle then with our national hatred of tyranny a hatred of the vices which bring it this train, and we this rest assured that a tyrant will never reign over us till we cease to be virtuous enough to govern ourselves.

These the the remarks which a few moments [snatched] from the occupations have permitted me to offer you in this happy anniversary — They are remarked received when the peculiar blessings of my native country struck me with peculiar force.

And as long as I believe myself to retain any relish for the principles of our independence or any of the feelings of a free man so long shall I conceive my self bound to bear virtues to these everlasting truth that righteousness alone exalteth a nation! And that to fear God and keep his commandments is the best security as it is the only foundation of national as well as individual happiness.

Philander Chase Junior

July 3, 1821

Fourth of July

Fourth of July Sermon



Rights Statement

No Copyright - United States