The Warning (c. 1807)




to the

Serious Attention


All Christians,


Lovers of Their Country.

London printed.

Philadelphia, re-printed,

by Kimber, Conrad, and Co. no. 93, Market Street.



Price six cents.

To My Country.

Oh thou, resort and mart of all the earth,

Chequered with all complexions of mankind,

And spotted with all crimes: in whom I see

Much that I love, and much that I admire,

And all that I abhor; thou freckled fair,

That pleases and yet shocks me: I can laugh

And I can weep, can hope and can despond,

Feel wrath and pity, when I think on thee!

Ten righteous would have sav’d a city once,

And thou hast many righteous – Well for thee –

That salt preserves thee; more corrupted else,

And therefore more obnoxious at this hour,

Than Sodom in her day had pow’r to be,

For whom God heard his Abra’m plead in vain.


At the present eventful period, when thrones are falling, and empires are tottering, even the obscurest individual is induced to turn his eye from the accustomed circle of domestic solicitudes, and, if not to think with philosophers, and to plan with politicians, at least to pause over the awful changes that are taking place, and anxiously to pray, that his country may not be involved in the overthrow.

When uncommon and unexpected occurrences are crowding on the attention, the mind naturally recurs to former periods; eagerly traces the progress of events; and enquires the cause of present changes. The page of history, in proportion as it faithfully records the past, becomes the mirror of the future; and there we see, that the vice and profligacy of nations are the universal causes of their punishment and overthrow. The Bible, as containing the best history of mankind, will naturally be resorted to by every lover of truth, at such a momentous period as the present. Brief indeed, is the relation we have of early times, but enough is recorded to prove, that national wickedness has been always followed by national punishments. But little more than two thousand years had elapsed from the creation, when it is said, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; and it grieved him: and the Lord said, I will destroy man.” So complete was the corruption, that a deluge was necessary, from which only eight persons were spared.

Notwithstanding this awful warning, when men began to multiply, iniquity began to abound; and but little more than two hundred years after, it is said, “The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is very great, because their sin is very grievous; and the Lord overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of those cities.”

Those who will trace, page by page, the sacred history, will find that righteousness exalteth a nation; but that sin is the destruction of any people. The nations which the children of Israel dispossessed, and were commanded to destroy, were idolators, despisers of God; and it is on this account that no mercy was to be shewn to them. “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them; for they will turn away thy sons from following me, that they may sere other gods.” And it is expressly said, “for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” While the Israelites were obedient they were blessed, and prospered; when they revolted, and were become corrupted, they in their turn were chastised. On this account their temple was destroyed, and they themselves made captives. The whole history of the Israelites affords such demonstration of the Divine government; of the dreadful consequences of sin, and the advantages of holiness; that it appears impossible to pay that attention to it which it deserves, and not to reap much instruction from it. In the 12th chapter of the 2d of Chronicles, it is said, “And it came to pass when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, Shishak, king of Egypt, came up against Jerusalem, (because they had transgressed against the Lord.) Then came Shemaiah the prophet, to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, ye have forsaken me, therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.” The following part of the chapter deserves consideration. Immediately on humbling themselves their punishment was mitigated. Thus they went on, alternately revolting and repenting, until the reign of Manasseh, who did evil in the sight of the Lord, of whom it is said, “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen round about, whom the Lord had destroyed. And the Lord spake to Manasseh and his people, but they would not hearken; therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.” His punishment produced repentance: he was pardoned and restored; but his successors profited not by his example and Jehoiakim was made captive and taken to Babylon. But the proud Nebuchadnezzar, who had been the instrument to punish the apostacy of the kings of Israel, must now be punished himself. Arrogant as he was, great as he thought himself, he was a very fool; for because his magicians and sorcerers could not interpret those dreams which the Almighty had sent to warn him, he became very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. A rage for destruction becomes the appetite of conquerors. But he was restrained by the interposition of Omnipotence, who commissioned Daniel to give a most awful lesson to his pride. Yet the tyrant was inexorable, till the hand of the Lord was laid upon him, “and he was driven from men, and made to eat grass as oxen.” By this humiliation he was brought to know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and he giveth it to whomsoever he will. His successor had an awful example: but kings are not willing to learn humility; and Belshazzaer exceeded in impiety. He filled up the measure of Chaldean iniquity; he had a shorter warning, and a more awful doom. A few hours after the tremendous sentence, “Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting,” his kingdom was torn from him, and he was slain. Throughout this succession of apostasies and iniquities, a succession of prophets was commissioned to proclaim encouragement to the pious, and pardon to the penitent, until two thousand years more were completed. Common means and common warnings failed, and another grand epoch in the history of man took place. But few believed the report of the prophets: they were derided, imprisoned, murdered. Then, when there seemed no other possible way of reclaiming mankind, Messiah appeared. At that period, those who were deemed the most enlightened nations, were the victims of superstition, the votaries of idols, the slaves of vice. Messiah came to promulgate a purer religion than had been known to the Jews, and to demonstrate what real goodness was, by exhibiting an example of it in his own conduct. Offensive to all the prejudices, and opposed to all the practices of mankind, slow indeed was the progress of that religion: but it was the work of God; it has maintained its ground in opposition to tyrants and hierarchies; its influence has been felt over a large part of the globe; it still exerts its power; and Britain once sunk in barbarism and idolatry, boasts its benign influence. Those persons who read the Scriptures attentively, will find in numbers of places, that the advent of the Messiah is spoken of as the last great work of God for man, and that it is declared, that his reign shall at length be universal. It is expressly said, “The God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and that kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break into pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

Notwithstanding the progress and influence of Christianity, there remains yet much in the world which opposes its spirit and impedes its operation. If the word of God be true, all this must be subdued and destroyed, and the kingdoms of the earth must become the kingdoms of our Lord. No other dispensation is promised to man. It seems that no greater interposition can be made in this favour; and it is the expectation of several writers of eminence, that the present two thousand years will terminate the probationary state, and issue in a new order of things.

From the great events that are now taking place, it is evident that the prophecies are fulfilling, and it is probable that the grand drama is drawing to a close. England has, during nearly 300 years, enjoyed a clearer light and a purer religion than her neighbours on the continent: of this she has been aware, and hath anxiously wished for the emancipation of others, from the miseries of despotism and the terrors of superstition. Ever since the period of the reformation in England, solemn prayers have been offered in our temples for the downfall of the Romish church; an event foretold by prophets, and universally expected by protestants. Men conversant in the Scriptures had, from a diligent examination of them, ventured to predict, that this would take place at about the period of the French revolution. The commotions which have recently happened on the continent, so rapid in their progress, so powerful in their consequences, led every reflecting mind to contemplate the operations of Providence, and anxiously to wait the event. Superstitions, which had maintained a dreadful influence for ages, were fallen into contempt; tyranny began to tremble; and the religion which licensed crime, and authorised murder, met its threatened ruin. That monster of iniquity, the man of sin, whose destruction had been denounced, was shaken on this papal throne. All this, enlightened Briton had been waiting, had been praying for. The purposes of God are generally accomplished in a very unexpected manner, and by very unlikely agents. Not profiting by the light of history, Britons were astonished, were offended, because the work was not carried on in the way they had expected; and instead of calmly waiting the issue, and leaving Omnipotence to complete his own work, what did they do? They lavished immense sums in the vain endeavour to restore superstition; they sent armies to support the Pope, and they bribed foreign powers to re-establish despotism! “Be astonished, O heavens; and be confounded, O earth.” Not contented with open force, every artifice, every stratagem that could be devised was adopted; but he that hath said, “I will do all my pleasure,” made the counsels and the cost of none effect.

If it be safe to reason from analogy, as we have thus become the aggressors, we must in our turn be scourged. It is our conduct as a nation, which affords just ground for apprehension, rather than the force or fury of the enemy. Had we not been guilty, and glaringly guilty, we should have had little to fear, even from such a foe. Previous to the late transactions, our improvements had certainly not been proportioned to our privileges; and the enormities practised under the sanction of government, both in the East and West Indies, were highly disgraceful to a civilized and Christian people. For these we should certainly, sooner or later, have been chastised, but our recent impiety has probably hastened and aggravated our punishment; and how severe it may be, or long it may continue, will be determined by our conduct. There is only one part of us to act now, which can be of any avail: that is, to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, to repent, and to return. As a nation, it becomes us to examine what there is in us opposite to that spirit of righteousness which must ultimately prevail. This must be corrected, or judgments will be incurred and in proportion as we are more or less guilty, punishment will be heavier or lighter. As in England we have less despotism and less persecution, we may hope that our doom may be less severe than that of some of the continental powers. Their punishment is begun; we are yet spared: God grant that we may not, by involving ourselves in heavier guilt, bring on severer destruction.

Amidst the convulsions of empires, and the wars of sovereigns, it is an unspeakable consolation to the humble, and to the pious, that a different standard is set up. The Prince of Peace will at length be “the mighty conqueror!” and happy they, and they alone, who are enlisted under his banner. He hath said, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.”

During the advent of our Lord, “the Roman empire was stretching itself far and wide, and the Roman armies were leagued in a fell conspiracy against the tranquillity and the liberties of the world.” If it had been a christian duty by violence to attempt to crush despotism, and repel powerful oppressors, certainly he who came to be a “light to enlighten the gentiles,” would neither have been silent nor passive; but he expressly said his kingdom was not of this world, and he left the infuriate powers and principalities of it to settle their own petty contests.*

Whatever, therefore, be the pretexts for war, or however plausible the reasons for taking up arms, Christians can have neither part nor lot in the matter; under the sanction of such an example, they enjoy a dignified, a glorious exemption.

It is curious to observe, in turning over the pages of history, that from whatever motive, or with whatever design wars have been entered into, multitudes, equally unacquainted with the origin and the object, are always eager to rush to the standard of blood. Is it because the irascible and malignant passions here find a vent, under the specious name of patriotism? Is it because pride, and malice, and all uncharitableness, escaping from the fetters of consanguinity and domestic enjoyments of civilized society, they are glad to shake off its restraints, and in the tumult of vulgar mirth or brutal ferocity, to stifle that still small voice, which in almost any other situation, is more likely to make itself heard. This eagerness to destroy is certainly one of the most disgraceful traits in the human character. The benevolent and the reflecting feel that the ravages of death are sufficiently certain and awful, even in the domestic chamber, and the peaceful bed; and none but the uncommonly depraved would think of hurrying a father or a brother out of life in any other way. But does the commissioned murderer reflect, that he may destroy a being equally respectable as his father or his brother? Let ferocious beasts fight: let savages fight: let heathens fight: let madmen fight. Britons! Christians! have ye yet to learn, that it is inconsistent with your privileges, your improvements; inconsistent with your rank in the present state of being, and with your prospects of exaltation in the future?** Can man sympathise and yet torment? Can he weep, and yet murder? Can he rush from the tender embrace of a beloved wife, to stab the vitals of a fellow-being who has just torn himself from reciprocal endearments? The very capacity for happiness seems in itself a bond of union, a tie to peace. Though this is not felt by nations, happily it is by individuals; and there are some sects amongst professing Christians who act on the principles of their religion, and keep aloof from war, and every thing connected with it. Justly do they say, “We trust we are called to show forth to the world, in life and practice, that the blessed reign of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, is begun; and we doubt not but it will proceed, till it attain its completion in the earth; when, according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’ Influenced by these principles we cannot consistently join with any such as form combinations of a hostile nature against any, being desirous to evince to our fellow men at large that we are really redeemed from the spirit of contests, and are truly the disciples of a merciful Redeemer, whose holy, pure, and undefiled religion is a system of universal love.†

If the Almighty be now fulfilling the petition which hath so many million of times been offered up before him, “Let thy kingdom come;” and if the overthrow of every corrupt government be the necessary preparation for that kingdom, who would wish to be found in arms, endeavouring to support what he hath determined to destroy, and to crush what he hath determined to establish?

In this respect the page of sacred history is full of instruction. Few events could appear more improbable than the fall of Babylon; and there are few in which the power of God was more manifest. The empire had been founded more than two hundred years; great, powerful, and victorious, she knew not that her destruction was hastening. Warned by the prophets, in order that she might repent, in the language of defiance she hath said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most high.” Babylon had long been the destroyer, or in modern style, the conqueror; and now the command is gone forth, “Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about; all ye that bend the bow shoot at her, spare no arrows; for she hath sinned against the Lord. Take vengeance upon her: as she hath done, do unto her.”††

At the period of the destruction of this mighty city, the walls seemed impregnable; provisions were stored for twenty years; and a sufficient quantity of arable land within the walls for a further supply. The inhabitants, thinking themselves secure, considered the taking the city as an impracticable thing, and from the ramparts scoffed at Cyrus, and derided him for every thing he did towards it; but he who sitteth in the heavens had said, “I will punish the king of Babylon and his land.” The accounts of Xenophon and Herodotus agree with that of Scripture; they prove that the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. “Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord.” One such history is sufficient to shew the folly of human pride; the impotence of human power. Where is the strength or the wisdom that can prevail against Omnipotence? Navies are but atoms: armies are dust. These are momentous times. There are other nations who are proud as well as the Babylonish; and universal history testifies that if governments be corrupt, they must be consumed: if nations be depraved, they must be destroyed. It surely would be wise for those who are about engaging in the present contest, to consider whether it be not “the war of Him whose name is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, against the beast, and the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, and their armies.”


* When Celsus drew his virulent pen against the Christians, and laid many things to their charge, if possible to make them odious in the sight of the Emperor, he charged them with refusing to bear arms and fight in defence of the empire. To this charge Origen replied, with an innocent and Christian boldness, “’Tis true Christians cannot fight, or go to war, though urged and commanded: yet they are more useful to their country than others, because they give good instructions to the people, and teach their fellow citizens to worship God truly and piously; causing such as have lived well in these little cities, to go into a heavenly city.”

**Christians are universally agreed in the expectation of a period, when “nation shall not rise up against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” But do mankind expect to be operated upon by some violent and universal impulse, constraining them to “beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks?” Must it not be by studying and adopting the spirit and temper of the gospel, and by imbibing and diffusing its benevolent principles and peaceable dispositions, that this prophecy must be accomplished? If one person be convinced of the madness and folly of contention and war: if he be led to see that the happiness of the present state is to be found in the peaceable discharge of the social duties ... in the exercise of the endearing charities of life: if he wishes to co-operate with angels in diffusing “peace on earth, and good will amongst men;” he must suffer no argument, no example to mislead him. He must be content to be “faithful found amongst the faithless:”[xxviii] he must bear his testimony with mildness, but with undaunted firmness, remembering that every man hath a witness within himself in favour of the truth, which is ready to enforce argument if it be properly and opportunely appealed to.

See Extracts from the Minutes and Advices of the Yearly Meeting of Friends. Chap. on War.

††See the 50th chapter of Isaiah: also Clark’s History of the Bible.