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Letter from the Rev. John Sayre to the Committee for Fairfield


Mr˙ HOLT, Sir: The Letter which the Rev˙ Mr˙ Sayre sent unto the Committee, send you, as he is very desirous of having it published, to show the world why he did not sign the Association, and the Committee have agreed that it may be. I am, Sir, your very humble servant,


GENTLEMEN: Yesterday my neighbour, Mr˙ Lewis, called on me with a paper, styled an Association, which he informed me was sent by your desire with a view that I should subscribe it. Of that paper I requested a copy, that I might have time to consider of the propriety of the desired subscription, and was served with it the same day about noon, and now beg the candid attention of the gentlemen of the Committee, while I give them my answer to their requisition.

I shall first consider the paper with respect to its particular parts, and then with regard to its general intention.

The first clause contains a recital of some of those things which are commonly charged against the Mother Country, as unconstitutional (and therefore unwarrantable) exertions of power on her part; and of the Resolutions of the "United Colonies" on their part, to resist by force of aims the measures prescribed by the Parent State; and to die or be free. I beg to be considered as a servant (though unworthy) of the gospel of Christ, who am informed by one of its inspired preachers, that the "weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ;" which expressions plainly designate them to be spiritual. I dare not, therefore, promise to take up and use any carnal arms at all. The same apostle teacheth me, that "in whatsoever state I am, therewith I must be content." If, therefore, the providence of God should bring me into a state even of slavery itself, I desire that his trill may be done; and that I may be content with that lot, (however hard,) and considering myself at the same time as being the Lord' s freeman, may cheerfully as well as faithfully discharge my duties in that state, knowing that in Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free. I dare not, therefore, resolve that I will be free, because I am sensible that many better men than myself have, by the providence of God, been permitted to be brought into a state of bondage; and that I ought not to complain if I should be made partaker of the same affliction.

The second clause of the paper before me contains a hearty approbation of the Continental Association, and a resolution "faithfully to observe and comply with it, without any equivocation or mental reservation." There is one part of that Association (especially as it hath been practised upon here) with which I dare not promise to comply. My conscience will not permit me to act upon it, and our common Master hath commanded me to "let my yea be yea, and my nay nay;" and I am also enjoined "to speak the truth to my neighbour in love." I must not therefore, gentlemen, equivocate with you.

The part I mean is that which prohibits me from extending the kind offices of humanity and hospitality to any who may refuse to be bound by it. The Saviour of the world, whose servant I am, hath commanded, me "to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to take in the stranger, or traveller; to give to him that asketh of me, and not to turn away from him who would borrow of me." Here it will be to no purpose to say, that such or such persons are mine enemies; because our Lord hath expressly, and that too in an especial manner, commanded me to extend my good offices to mine enemies as such. And I beg the Committee to remember, that Ministers of the Gospel are, in a particular manner, commanded to keep hospitality.

The first paragraph of the last clause in the Association sent me, I have spoken to already. The remainder of it commenceth with a declaration, that we notice and gratefully acknowledge the divine interposition in favour of all our warlike enterprises, crowning them with the most unparalleled success. I know not, gentlemen, that this, if it be true, is a proper rule for Christians to judge upon


concerning the goodness or badness of any cause of this kind, in any controversy; for history, sacred and profane, furnisheth us with many instances in which we shall all agree in saying, that the most unjust cause did not always meet an overthrow, nor the most just prosper. Thus, in the first efforts for the establishment of the Protestant Religion, the Protestants, in the Smalcaldie League, were entirely battle of Mulburgh, on the 24th of April, 1547, when one routed by the Romish Emperour, Charles the Fifth, in the of the two great champions in the Protestant cause, the Elector of Savony, was taken prisoner; the other, the Landgrave of Hesse, was forced to surrender himself, and beg pardon of Charles.

There are sundry prophecies, yet to be fulfilled, which declare, that the potentates of the earth shall have power to make war against the saints and to overcome them.

I look on the present unnatural war as being a just judgment of God on the people of old England, as well as on us Americans, for our many crying offences against his most holy laws, and a loud call to a sincere and immediate return to him and to our duty. It is, therefore, a constant part of my prayers to Him, who does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, that he would make it effectual to the production of a true and general reformation in both Countries, to the glory of his mercy.

What follows in the paper seems to be a recapitulation of the substance of what was said before; it is therefore unnecessary for me to add any thing farther, as to the particulars of it. I shall, therefore, proceed to consider it as to its general intention.

I take it for granted, that the design of this Association is to make a discrimination between the friends of America and its liberties, and the enemies of both. And I now beg the Committee to believe me, when I declare, in the presence of Him who knows all hearts, and before whom I am to be finally judged in that awful clay, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, that I am a most sincere friend to both.

America is my native Country; all my connexions are in it. I have enjoyed the liberty and plenty of it, through the goodness of God, too long and too thankfully not to be sensible of the value of both, and to desire a continuance of them, if it be his will.

It can be matter of very little importance to the community, whether I subscribe the Association or not: for I am no politician; am not connected with politicians as such, and never will be either. These things belong not to my profession, and I find sufficient employment for my head and for my heart in that honourable, though arduous calling, to which, in the presence of the adorable Trinity, I have vowed to devote my whole life.

After this open testimony, I cannot fear that you, gentlemen, will run any risk of a breach of the ninth commandment, by advertising me as an enemy to my Country.

Praying that infinite wisdom may guide the councils of my Country; infinite power protect it in all its lawful privileges; and infinite love pardon our misdoings, and comfort us here and forever, I subscribe myself, Gentlemen, your sincere friend and servant in Christ Jesus,


To the Gentlemen of the Committee of the Town of Fairfield.