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tians of every denomination so far, that we should never again see their religious disputes carried to such a pitch, as to endanger the peace of society.” — October 20th, 1792. Again, in his address to the Quakers; “While men perform their social duties faithfully, they do all that society or the state can with propriety demand or expect; and remain responsible only to their Maker for the religion, or modes of faith, which they may prefer or profess." — October, 1789. To the synod of the Dutch Reformed Church he said, at the same time; “ You, Gentlemen, act the part of pious Christians and good citizens by your prayers and exertions to preserve harmony and good will towards men, which must be the basis of every political establishment; and I readily join with you, that, while just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.'" These views of toleration, and of the connexion between religion and government, are often repeated both in his private and public writings.
Comment on these extracts is unnecessary. They may safely be left to the judgment of the reader. To say that he was not a Christian, or at least that he did not believe himself to be a Christian, would be to impeach his sincerity and honesty. Of all men in the world, Washington was certainly the last, whom any one would charge with dissimulation or indirectness; and if he was so scrupulous in avoiding even a shadow of these faults in every known act of his life, however unimportant, is it likely, is it credible, that, in a matter of the highest and most serious importance, he should practise through a long series of years, a deliberate deception upon his friends and the public? It is neither credible nor possible.
I shall here insert a letter on this subject, written to me by a lady who lived twenty years in Washington's family, and who was his adopted daughter, and the granddaughter of Mrs. Washington. The testimony it affords, and the hints it contains respecting the domestic habits of Washington, are interesting and valuable.
“ Woodlawn, 26 February, 1833. “ Sir, “I received your favor of the 20th instant last evening, and hasten to give you the information, which you desire.
“ Truro Parish is the one in which Mount Vernon, Pohick Church, and Woodlawn are situated. Fairfax Parish is now Alex. andria. Before the Federal District was ceded to Congress, Alexandria was in Fairfax county. General Washington had a pew in Pohick Church, and one in Christ Church at Alexandria. He was very instrumental in establishing Pohick Church, and I believe subscribed largely. His pew was near the pulpit. I have a perfect recollection of being there, before his election to the presidency, with him and my grandmother. It was a beautiful church, and had a large, respectable, and wealthy congregation, who were regular attendants.
" He attended the church at Alexandria, when the weather and roads permitted a ride of ten miles. In New York and Philadelphia he never omitted attendance at church in the morning, unless detained by indisposition. The afternoon was spent in his own room at home; the evening with his family, and without company. Sometimes an old and intimate friend called to see us for an hour or two; but visiting and visitors were prohibited for that day. No one in church attended to the services with more reverential respect. My grandmother, who was eminently pious, never deviated from her early habits. She always knelt. The General, as was then the custom, stood during the devotional parts of the service. On communion Sundays, he left the church with me, after the blessing, and returned home, and we sent the carriage back for my grandmother.
“ It was his custom to retire to his library at nine or ten o'clock, where he remained an hour before he went to his chamber. He always rose before the sun, and remained in his library until called to breakfast. I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those, who actor pray, that they may be seen of men.' He communed with his God in secret.
“My mother resided two years at Mount Vernon, after her marriage with John Parke Custis, the only son of Mrs. Washington. I have heard her say, that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother before the revolution When my aunt, Miss Custis, died suddenly at Mount Vernon, before they could realize the event, he knelt by her and prayed most fervently, most affectingly, for her recovery. Of this I was assured by Judge Washington's mother, and other witnesses.
“ He was a silent, thoughtful man. He spoke little generally ; never of himself. I never heard him relate a single act of his life during the war. I have often seen him perfectly abstracted, his lips moving, but no sound was perceptible. I have sometimes made him laugh most heartily from sympathy with my joyous and extravagant spirits. I was, probably, one of the last persons on earth to whom he would have addressed serious conversation, particularly when he knew that I had the most perfect model of female excellence ever with me as my monitress, who acted the part of a tender and devoted parent, loving me as only a mother can love, and never extenuating or approving in me what she disapproved in others. She never omitted her private devotions, or her public duties; and she and her husband were so perfectly united and happy, that he must have been a Christian. She had no doubts, no fears for him. After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, she resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Saviour and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity. Is it necessary that any one should certify, General Washington avowed himself to me a believer in Christianity?' As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic, disinterested devotion to his country. His mottos were, · Deeds, not Words'; and, · For God and my country.' “ With sentiments of esteem,
“I am, &c.”
It seems proper to subjoin to this letter what was told to me by Mr. Robert Lewis, at Fredericksburg, in the year 1827. Being a nephew of Washington, and his private secretary during the first part of his presidency, Mr. Lewis, lived with him on terms of intimacy, and had the best opportunity for observing his habits. Mr. Lewis said he had accidentally witnessed his private devotions in his library both morning and evening; that on those occasions he had seen him in a kneeling posture with a Bible open before him, and that he believed such to have been his daily practice. Mr. Lewis is since dead, but he was a gentleman esteemed for his private worth and respectability. I relate the anecdote as he told it to me, understanding at the time that he was willing it should be made public on his authority. He added, that it was the President's custom to go to his library in the morning at four o'clock, and that, after his devotions, he usually spent his time till breakfast in writing letters.
The following letter from the venerable Bishop White was written to the Reverend B. C. C. Parker, then rector of Trinity Church in Lenox, Massachusetts, by whose permission it is here inserted. “ Philadelphia, 28 November, 1832. “ Dear Sir, “ I have received your letter of the 20th instant, and will furnish you with what information I possess on the subject of it.
“ The Father of our country, as well during the revolutionary war, as in his presidency, attended divine service in Christ Church in this city, except during one winter, when, being here for the taking of measures with Congress towards the opening of the next campaign, he rented a house near to St. Peter's Church, then in parochial union with Christ Church. During that season he attended regularly at St. Peter's. His behaviour was always serious and attentive ; but, as your letter seems to intend an inquiry on the point of kneeling during the service, I owe it to the truth to declare, that I never saw him in the said attitude. During his presidency, our vestry provided him with a pew not ten yards in front of the desk. It was habitually occupied by himself, by Mrs. Washington, who was regularly a communicant, and by his secretaries.
“ Although I was often in company with this great man, and had the honor of dining often at his table, I never heard any thing from him, which could manifest his opinions on the subject of religion. I knew no man, who so carefully guarded against the discoursing of himself, or of his acts, or of any thing that pertained to him ; and it has occasionally occurred to me when in his company, that, if a stranger to his person were present, he would never have known from any thing said by the President, that he was conscious of having distinguished himself in the eye of the world. His ordinary behaviour, although unexceptionably courteous, was not such as to encourage obtrusion on what he had on his mind.
“Within a few days of his leaving the presidential chair, our vestry waited on him with an address, prepared and delivered by me. In his answer, he was pleased to express himself gratified by what he had heard from our pulpit ; but there was nothing that committed him relatively to religious theory. Within a day or two of the above, there was another address by many ministers of different persuasions, being prepared by Dr. Green and delivered by me. It has been a subject of opposite statements, owing to a passage in the posthumous works of Mr. Jefferson. He says (giving Dr. Rush for his author, who is said to have it from Dr. Green), that the said address was intended to elicit the opinion of the President on the subject of the Christian religion.
Dr. Green has denied this in his periodical work called “ The Christian Advocate,' and his statement is correct. Dr. Rush may have misunderstood Dr. Green, or the former may have been misunderstood by Mr. Jefferson; or the whole may have originated with some individual of the assembled ministers, who mistook his own conceptions for the sense of the body. The said two documents are in the Philadelphia newspapers of the time.
“On a thanksgiving day, appointed by the President for the suppression of the Western insurrection, I preached in his presence. The subject was the Connexion between Religion and Civil Happiness. It was misrepresented in one of our newspapers. This induced the publishing of the sermon, with a dedication to the President; pointedly pleading his proclamation in favor of the connexion affirmed. It did not appear, that he disallowed the use made of his name. Although, in my estimation, entire separation between Christianity and civil government would be a relinquishment of religion in the abstract; yet, that this was the sentiment of the President, which may have been, I have no light positively to infer.
“There do not occur to me any other particulars meeting your inquiry, confined to my knowledge. Accordingly I conclude with writing myself, very respectfully, your humble servant,
“ William Wuite.”
The circumstance of his withdrawing himself from the communion service, at a certain period of his life, has been remarked as singular. This may be admitted, and regretted, both on account of his example, and the value of his opinion as to the importance and practical tendency of this rite. It does not follow, however, that he was an unbeliever, unless the same charge is proved to rest against the numerous class of persons, who believe themselves to be sincere Christians, but who have scruples in regard to the ordinance of the communion. Whatever his motives may have been, it does not appear that they were ever explained. Nor is it known, or to be presumed, that any occasion offered. It is probable, that, after he took command of the army, finding his thoughts and attention necessarily engrossed by the business that devolved upon him, in which frequently little distinction could be observed between the Sabbath and other days, he may have believed it improper publicly to partake of an ordinance, which, according to the ideas he entertained of it, imposed severe restrictions on outward conduct, and a sacred pledge to perform VOL. XII. 52