1783 EZRA STILES. United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. Influenced Constitution of United States!
1783 EZRA STILES. United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. Influenced Constitution of United States!
1783 EZRA STILES. United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. Influenced Constitution of United States!
1783 EZRA STILES. United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. Influenced Constitution of United States!
1783 EZRA STILES. United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. Influenced Constitution of United States!

1783 EZRA STILES. United States Elevated to Glory and Honor. Influenced Constitution of United States!

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A very scarce and important work by one of the most influential young divines of the Revolutionary era, Ezra Stiles. Later the President of Yale, he was friends with Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and a significant contributor to the thought life of the emerging nation.

The sermon is a rather jaw-dropping instance of the theological innovation of the early American divines in drawing not just a parallel of image or metaphor, but a concrete theological connection between the ancient nation of Israel and their blessing of "the Land" and that of the United States. 

Stiles without a moment's hesitating or a hermeneutic blush pronounces the new Country, the "American Israel," "high above all nations which He hath made, in numbers, and in praise, and in name, and in honor."

His theologized vision of America was both reflective of and formative in the development of the the doctrine of Manifest Destiny.

His exegesis explicitly suggested the original Pilgrims and the new white Americans were the chosen people of Israel and the recipients of their promises, even suggesting that "in God's good providence" Indians and Africans "may gradually vanish" from the land completely. At various points, he calls the Native American Canaanites, but is assured they will not only take over the entirety of the Americas, but boasts of how they have blessed the Tribes. 

It appears likely that Stiles' sermon, vastly popular and published four years before the framing of the United States Constitution in 1787, bore more than a subtle influence on the origin of America's founding documents. Several important ideas regarding the structure of Government and the self identity of America find nearly identical articulation in the Constitution itself.  

Stiles fiercely defends private property, ownership, and representative government as the essential elements of a free society. He upheld the right of resistance and revolution against unjust governments, and opposed the institution of slavery [and favors colonization].

No copy offered at auction in over 40 years.

A copy of the present was presented by the author to George Washington. Further, the correspondence surrounding the book between Stiles and Washington remains public and demonstrates Washington's high regard for the work. Benjamin Franklin is also known to have owned and read the work. 

[See here for the Stiles / Washington Correspondence on the present sermon: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/04-04-02-0315]  

Stiles, Ezra. The United States Elevated to Glory and Honour. A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Jonathan Trumbull. 1783. New-Haven: Thomas & Samuel Green.  1783. First Edition. 99pp.

In a rather attractive c.1870 binding; not a single library related mark to text. Fine as is, though very much worth rebinding as well.

His Hermeneutic: "For I have assumed the text, only as introductory to a discourse upon the political welfare of God's American Israel; and as allusively prophetick of the future prosperity and splendour of the United States."

On the Native Americans: "A very inconsiderable value arose from the spare thin settlement of the American aboriginals; of whom there are not fifty thousand souls on this side of the Mississippi. The protestant Europeans have generally bought the native right of soil, as far as they have settled, and paid the value ten fold; and are daily increasing the value of the remaining Indian territory a thousand fold: And in this manner we are a constant increasing revenue to the Sachems and original Lords of the Soil. How much must the value of lands, reserved to the natives of North and South America, be increased to remaining Indians, by the inhabitation of two or three hundred million Europeans." [Historical note; his numbers are not remotely accurate. See Mark Charles an Soong-Chan Rah's Inconvenient Truths.]

On America as the New Israel and the Rapidly Increasing White Population: "Can we contemplate their present, and anticipate their future increase, and not be struck with astonishment to find ourselves in the midst of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Noah? May we not see that we are the object which the Holy Ghost had in view four thousand years ago, when he inspired the venerable Patriarch with the visions respecting his posterity? How wonderful the accomplishments in distant and disconnected ages!"

On America as Canaan: ". . . consider the American Indians as Canaanites of the expulsion of Joshua: . . . the Canaanitish expulsions might take the resolution of the ten tribes, and travel north-eastward to where never man dwelt." [He essentially postulates that all the Native Americans may be related to the people in Greenland and may eventually emigrate there, leaving America completely European . . . save the slaves.]

On Native Americans and Africans: "We [whites] are increasing with great rapidity; and the Indians, as well as the million Africans in America, are decreasing as rapidly. Both left to themselves, in this way, diminishing may gradually vanish: And thus an unrighteous slavery may at length, in God's providence, be abolished and cease in this land of Liberty."

On Wars and the Morality of the Revolution: "These things have led some very enlightened as well as serious minds to a fixed conclusion and judgment against the right and legality of all wars. In the simplicity of my judgment, I have for years been of this opinion, except as to the offensive wars of Israel, and defensive war of America. War in some instances, especially defensive, has been authorized by heaven. . . We can only say that there still remains in the body of the people at large, the body of mankind of any and every generation, a power with which they are invested by the author of their being, to wrest government out of the hands of reigning tyrants, and originate new policies, adapted to the conversation of liberty, and promoting the publick welfare."

His Pesher on the Old Testament Continues: "The American Nehemiah, the opulent and pious Governor Winthrop I and the other first magistrates of the several New-England republicks, were men of singular wisdom and exemplary piety. And, God be thanked, the senatorial assembly of this happiest of all the United States, still embosoms so many Phinehases and Zorobabels, so many religious patriots, and friends of Jesus and his holy religion: And that the Messiah's cause is here accompanied with civil government and the priest-bond - allusively, the two olive trees upon the right of the candlestick (the churches) and upon the left, the two golden branches, which through the two golden pipes, Moses and Aaron, empty the golden oil out of themselves, and diffuse their salutary influence of order and happiness through the community."

Fascinatingly, he then proposes an eight point check list for orthodoxy and suggests churches which do not hold to them are enemies to the new order being established. He is implying this in the context of the new Government. It seems he imagines this as a Government function. [They are the inspiration of the Scriptures, the Trinity, divinity and vicarious atonement of Christ, deity of the Holy Ghost, holiness as though eternal life depended upon it [bizarre phrasing here], the internal work of growing love of God, and retribution according to work at the judgment [aside from justification]]. He further continues in a way that seems to strongly imply he sees the role of the Government to establish some sort of means to keep "sectarians" from troubling the Christian Republick. 

This work, formative as it was on the formation of the Constitution of the United States, President George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin, deserves serious academic attention.