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Published on Dec 14, 2013

Samuel Langdon- Political Sermons of the American Founding Era.

Samuel Langdon (1723-1797). A native of Boston, Langdon was graduated from Harvard in the class of 1740 with Samuel Adams. The two young men shared the same political views during the revolutionary and early national periods—which is to say, Langdon was a Whig and a patriot in the sacred cause of liberty. Soon after graduation, Langdon, a Congregational minister, served as chaplain of the New Hampshire Regiment at the taking of Louisbourg (1745), then became pastor of the North Church in Portsmouth, where he served until becoming president of Harvard College in 1774. That tenure was difficult and unpleasant for Langdon, and he was glad to relinquish it in 1780 and return to the pulpit at Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, where he remained during the final seventeen years of his life.

As a confidant of the leading patriots of the region, Langdon well represented the mind of the revolutionary generation in his political sermons. His 1775 election sermon, Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness, preached in Watertown, Massachusetts, is a classic; it was reprinted in John W. Thornton, ed., The Pulpit of the American Revolution (1860). Langdon was prominent in securing the adoption of the federal Constitution as a delegate to the New Hampshire state convention in 1788.

The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States was the election sermon for New Hampshire preached in 1788.

I think myself happy that, after reiterated invitations from this honourable court, I am at length permitted by divine providence, though under peculiar difficulties, and in the decline of life, to appear in this place, and speak on this public occasion, when the principal officers of government are to be appointed to their several departments, according to the suffrages of the people. I will endeavor to give due honor to the rulers of the people, while I declare, with simplicity of heart and honest freedom, the admonitions which the great Lord of the universe gives; and offer my best thoughts as to the general administration of public affairs, and the way to secure the prosperity and happiness of a nation.

There is a remarkable paragraph in the sacred writings, which may be very well accommodated to my present purpose, and merits particular attention. You have it in Deuteronomy, IV, 5--8.

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, who shall hear all these statutes, and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people: for what nation is there so great, which hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? and what nation is there so great, which hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day.
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