ASHBEL GREEN,V. D. M.
BEGUN TO BE WRITTEN BY HIMSELF IN HIS EIGHTY-SECOND YEAR
AND CONTINUED TO HIS EIGHTY-FOURTH.
PREPARED FOR THE PRESS AT THE AUTHORíS REQUEST
BY JOSEPH H. JONES,
PASTOR OF THE SIXTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA.
ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS
No. 285 BROADWAY.
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Ashbel Green ( 1762- 1848) served as President of the College of New Jersey ( now Princeton University) from 1812 to 1822. His father, Jacob Green, a Presbyterian pastor, played a significant part in the American Revolution, counceling with Washington, that being one of the more prominent tasks he performed. Ashbel also served, with action seen in the militia in New Jersey area campaigns. Later educated at Princeton under John Witherspoon, he delivered the Valedictory Address to an audience consisting of Washington, Congress ( in session here) and the ministers of Holland and France in 1783.
What is remarkable, despite his high standing in society, is his continued service as a minister of the gospel to all the community after leaving the presidency, in particular those of African ancestry. Most notably was the Green's decision to free a slave girl given to Mrs. Green. Betsy Stockton, remained with the Green's as a paid worker, saving her money and gaining an education at the Green's. Miss Stockton later utilized both to good ends, serving as a Christian missionary in Hawaii. Ashbel helped her work with his own gifts, and published her accounts to him of her missions work in the Christian Advocate Magazine, where they were greatly admired. (Ref. : Life of Ashbel Green, 1849 pg. 326 ). It is hard to find a greater example of real life faith.
Dr. Green also served as a central figure in the foundation of Princeton Theological Seminary, a move of truly global import. It was here that the Foreign Missions program came to fruition, with Princeton men proceeding forth to all parts of the globe.
The relationship of Biblical Christianity and the U.S. National Government and society. Dr. Green's office of Chaplain of Congress, (while sitting in Philadelphia) proved well utilized, with President Adams requesting him to write a proclamation for a national day of prayer due to the threat of impending war with post revolution France.
Here begins the original text:
REV. ASHBEL GREEN. 553
On one occasion, while Philadelphia was the seat of government, and Dr. Green chaplain, the senate being called to order for prayer, he saw a senator still sitting and engaged in writing. Determined to exact at least external reverence for that Almighty Being they were about to worship, he stood silent till the
senator, startled by the prolonged silence, arose upon his feet, and assumed a becoming attitude. He then proceeded to offer prayer.
John Adams, the elder, President of the United States, applied to Dr. Green to write for him a proclamation, recommending to the people the observance of a day of humiliation and prayer. Having consented to do what was requested by the Chief Magistrate, he determined to write one that would correspond with the character of a President professing religion, and set over a Christian nation. Accordingly he contrived to bring out in the proclamation an acknowledgment of the leading doctrines of the gospel; and what was remarkable, although it passed through the hands of Timothy Pickering, who was then Secretary of State, and believed to be a Unitarian, it was published as written, without any alteration. The proclamation created surprise and admiration. The party opposed to Mr. Adamsí administration, thought it too good to come from his pen. They suspected the author; and one of them, a minister of the gospel, determined to discover the truth, came to his colleague and proposed a question so adroitly, that his silence satisfied him of the fact. *
* Appendix, K.
Having discovered among Dr. Greenís papers the autograph of this proclamation, we have thought it worthy of a place in our Appendix. We embrace with peculiar pleasure an opportunity to give permanency, as well as publicity, to such a document, which is not less creditable to the Chief Magistrate who approved, than to the chaplain who wrote it. The devout reader will participate in the gratification we feel in discovering such evidence of evangelical sentiment and feeling in the President of this Republic as is exhibited in his calling the nation, not only to humble themselves before God with fasting, but to recognise the operations of "the Holy Spirit" and his "infinite grace in the Redeemer."
"Whereas the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to him, but one also the natural influence of which is favourable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness cannot exist, nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed: And whereas the United States of America are, at present, placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition and demands of a foreign power, producing, as their unavoidable consequences, many distressing and unfavourable circumstances of a domestic kind: It has appeared to me that the duty, at all times incumbent, of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country, demands, at this time, a special attention from its inhabitants. I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday the 26th day of April next he observed, throughout the United States, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer:
That the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of mercies, agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming: That Christian congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation; beseeching Him, at the same time, of His infinite grace us the Redeemer of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, by His Holy Spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for His inestimable favour and heavenly benediction : That it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may he defended and protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolable, and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be specially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be
united together in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence for which they have in times past been so highly distinguished, and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, arts and manufactures, be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and of sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every rank and description of our citizens; and, in fine, that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion, may he specially extended to all the nations of the earth.
Given, & c.