The Golden Age
G O L D E N A G E:
FUTURE GLORY OF NORTH-AMERICA
BY AN ANGEL TO CELADON,
SEVERAL ENTERTAINING VISIONS.
Desinet, ac toto surget gens aurea Mundo.
Virgil Eclog IV.
The iron past, the golden Age shall rise,
And make the whole World happy, free, and wise.
B Y C E L A D O N.
PRINTED in the Year M,DCC,LXXXV.
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During our late noble contest with British fury, he signalized himself above many of his equals in age and fortune. Not contented to plead the glorious cause of liberty in private only, he bravely entered the bloody field, and actually served several campaigns, in vindication of our common rights. Nor did he once discover the least timidity in the day of battle.
Since the restoration of peace, and establishment of our independency, he, like another Daniel, has been anxious to know the future condition of his people -- and what may be the consequences of a revolution so extraordinary in itself -- which is the wonder of the present, and will probably be the joy of many succeeding generations.
Often musing on this delightful subject, he was at last indulged with an agreeable vision, which gave him the greatest satisfaction. This, as related by himself, is faithfully recorded in the following pages.
Having walked out on a summer's evening, and grown weary, I sat down on the verdant bank of a neighbouring stream, leaning against a tree, whose spreading branches sheltered me from the solar blaze. In this easy posture, I was awhile delighted with the music of the groves. The murmuring waters below, and chirping birds, -- together with the sighing gales above, soothed my imagination, and by degrees, lulled every ungrateful care to rest; 'till, in short, I fell into a kind of drowsy trance.
Whilst thus dissolved in slumberous indolence, lo, to my apprehension, a wondrous form darting from the sky swift as
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the lightning's flash, stood before me. -- His countenance sparkled like the morning-star: And his robes outshone the glowing brilliancy of the rainbow. All nature seemed to smile at his approach. -- The hills and vales rejoiced together; and the trees of the wood clapped their hands. -- I indeed, was at first smitten with a trembling awe, as in the presence of so superior a being. But perceiving an ineffable sweetness in his looks. and nothing vindictive in his aspect; this at length recovered my dejected spirit -- so that I ventured to accost him with words to this effect; and was kindly answered as in the sequel.
Celedon. Good Angel! For such I am convinced you are, may I know your errand? What strange cause could induce you to leave the mansions of light, and condescend to visit this wretched, fallen, and offending world ?
Angel. My present business is, to resolve certain doubts with which you have been lately puzzled, and to give you intelligence respecting several as yet unknown events, whereby, you and others may be comforted, and encouraged to stand fast in a refolute attachment to the glorious cause of truth, and the inviolable interest of American freedom and independency.
Celedon. Dare a poor mortal ask, by what name to honor your dignity? And what rank you bear among the Empyreal Hierarchies?
Angel. Inquire not after my name, for it is secret -- but, as to my present station, I belong to a bright squadron of Seraphic warriors, who are appointed as guardians of these confederated States. -- We inspired your statesmen with wisdom, and your heroes with courage, in all their late gallant struggles for freedom. -- We baffled the counsels of your enemies, and struck terror into their hearts; insomuch, that they often fled without any visible pursuer -- Yet were we but generous instruments at most. God himself was the supreme agent. -- He it was, that succeeded your enterprises: and at last, crowned your combined forces with victory. -- Without his blessing, neither men nor angels Could have saved America, from the rapacious jaws of tyranny and oppression. To him therefore, let all the glory be ascribed for ever.
Celedon. What you have now said, might be sufficient was it disputable before, to convince the whole world, that America was very right in casting off the British yoke.
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Angel. Her so doing was in every view, a most equitable transaction. -- That once flourishing kingdom, having reached the zenith of temporal grandeur, has been several years on the decline. -- Britain was once indeed, a land of patriots and heroes. But now alas! The majority of her sons are lamentably degenerated. In days of old, what zealous advocates for freedom were they! -- The very name of bondage made the whole nation start, as at the sight of an infernal ghost! -- But of late they seem determined as by some strange fatality, to introduce an arbitrary and despotic government -- a submission to which, is the reproach of reason, and a scandal to humanity. It was therefore, the indispensable duty of these States to resolve on an entire separation; as from a family deeply infected with the plague. Even the law of self-preservation required it.
Celedon. And may not our legislators also, follow their example? Allured by the splendid baits of lucre and ambition, will they not hereafter aspire to absolute sovereignty themselves? Should that be the case, we have no great reason to triumph. It would only be changing one imperious lord for another. A doleful recompence that, for the rivers of blood we have spilt, and the millions of gold we have spent.
Tyranny will always prove the fame insatiable, sanguinary, cruel monster, in whatever shape she appears; and in whatever part of the globe she reigns.
Angel. All sublunary things are subject to mutation. The greatest empires have had their birth, their growth, their maturity, and their fall. Nor can America, should the world stand long enough, expect an exemption from the usual vicissitudes of fortune. -- Yet, such a change is not likely to happen very soon. -- A republic being composed of many parts, is not so liable to enslaving measures, as monarchies in general are. -- The States will doubtless watch over one another with the strictest vigilance. So that no gross innovation can long be concealed, but must soon be discovered and detected, by that matchless sagacity, with which this country is distinguished -- and is indeed, one of your peculiar characteristics as a nation. May you never forfeit it, by wilfully shutting your eyes against the truth, as too many others have done!
Celedon. Yet should some sovereign power, cast an avaricious eye on our fertile fields, and blooming forests, how could
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we repel the encroachment? Should they invade our territories in their infancy, and before our constitution is well settled, might we not be reduced to the basest vassalage after all? -- A burnt child dreads even the most distant thought of fire!
Angel. If you live in amity and concord, there can be no danger of that calamity; especially if you join to suppress vice, and encourage virtue. -- Whilst you labour to worship God in sincerity, and promote the interest of religion and morality, you need fear no external enemy; nor dread any hostile invasion. -- Your country is so situated, that it would prove very difficult, if not morally speaking, impossible, to subdue it by outward force. -- It needs no artificial bulwark, or sumptuous fortification. -- Nature itself, has made it impregnable. -- And which is much more: As long as you retain your integrity, the Lord of Hosts will be with you; the God of Jacob will be your refuge. -- Nothing can ruin America, but the degeneracy of her own offspring. -- Beware of that, and you may be easy on all other accounts.
Celedon. Good news! But, may not the now United States differ among themselves! Should they hereafter quarrel with one another, it would certainly be to their mutual injury. Yea, perhaps, prove destructive to the whole empire. -- Divide, and overthrow them, is Satan's maxim -- the ancient logic of that malignant spirit.
Angel. Should they do so, they must blame themselves for their own perdition. And like self-murderers, die contemned; and be buried in the horrid vaults of infamy. -- But this is not likely to happen, without some great, and general depravity of manners. -- Seeing each State is of itself independent, as to its own internal jurisdiction; and enjoys all the immunities it can desire as a distinct substantive commonwealth; what ground can there be for jealousy or emulation, for envy or bickerment between them? -- These atrocious fiends will, 'tis hoped, never prevail in this new and flourishing continent. On the contrary, the inhabitants daily tasting the delicious sweets of equal freedom, will, you may trust my word, be more and more united, and join as one mighty champion to maintain the tranquility of the whole community.
Celedon. Should this be our propitious lot, we shall probably increase in number very fast. Which will by consequence, augment our warlike force; and be a continual addition
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to our national strength. So that by a long course of prosperity we may become as the sand on the sea shore for multitude.
Angel. Multiply you doubtless will; and that to a prodigy. To this, not only your own fruitfulness, but continual emigration from several parts of the world will annually contribute. -- The poor, the oppressed, and the persecuted will fly to America as doves to their windows. -- This western World will be the dernier resort, the last refuge, and asylum for afflicted merit. -- Nor will room be wanting. This continent is the largest, and will be the most populous empire upon earth: Provided, the pride and luxury of the inhabitants, do not prove an obstacle to its growth. -- Of all such enormities therefore, they will do well timely to beware: which, as history informs you, have in past ages, sapped the foundations of, and laid the most opulent and powerful states in ruins.
Celedon. Heaven grant they ever may! But alas! The relentless Indians are still ravaging our helpless frontiers. Their perpetual depredations will, 'tis feared, greatly retard the population of our as yet woodland regions. The related horrors of their scalping massacres, have hitherto prevented not a few in their designs of removing thither.
Angel. That impediment is not likely to last very long. Their ammunition will soon be spent. Nor can their game last many years. -- The deer, buffalo, &c. will gradually grow scarce; and at last fail of course. -- So that in conclusion, they will find themselves under a necessity of working, or starving. -- Hunger will compel them to sue for peace. They will apply to Congress for an assured settlement of their own, which being granted, they will betake themselves to honest labour; and by industry in due time become a polite, wealthy, and pious nation.
Celedon. Pious! And will such savages ever be converted to Christianity! When at present, they seem to be implacable enemies to the name of Christ!
Angel. You may be assured of it. -- Why this paroxism of admiration? Your progenitors, the now refined Britons, were formerly as wild Pagans, as rank idolaters, and as adverse to embracing the gospel as the Indians now are. -- Remember, it is God's work to convert men. Divine power
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can do every thing. -- And time may produce yet greater wonders. Every operation is alike easy to omnipotence.
Celedon. And what is to be done with the poor Negroes? Nothing! There are vast crouds of them in some states. -- And is not their rigorous servitude an odious blot in our scutcheon of honor? -- wretched creatures! Must they alone remain in irrevocable bondage? I hope not.
Angel. No, they too, shall in the proper season be set at liberty. -- A tract of land will be allowed them. -- They shall be furnished with implements of husbandry, and every thing necessary to begin the world with. -- They will by degrees form a State of their own. -- And at length also, prove a rich, a religious, and useful people. But there must be time for their manumission. It cannot be done at once.
Thus saying the Angel as I thought, took me up in his arms, and in an instant set me down again on the top of an exceeding high mountain. -- This mountain stands in the centre of North-America; and for altitude surmounts all others. -- It is in figure like a broken globe. And for circumference about thirteen geographical miles. -- This stately ridge seems to claim the monarchy of the atlantic hills: Being crowned with an ever glowing verdure. -- The trees which adorn its towering summit, are clad with unfading green. -- Cedar, pine, laurel, &c. are the principal product of the irriguous soil. It put me in mind of the famous, Helicon, so often celebrated by the poets, as the native residence of the muses. -- Especially, as I perceived several limpid springs bursting from its sides, and flowing in fertilizing meanders through the circumjacent plains, and refreshing the vales below. -- I stood on a large rock, placed about the middle of the mountain; and somewhat higher than any other part of it. This stone too is of a circular form, and makes a beautiful appearance; for it looks like polished marble.
Then the Angel washed my eyes with a crystaline elixir, which he carried in a pearly phial. Whereupon I found my visive faculty amazingly strengthened: So that I could distinctly view the whole continent from shore to shore.
This done, he bid me turn n to the east. I did so. And looking from north to south, what a grand and majestic prospect was presented to my sight!
Several spacious cities, and a great many thriving towns already founded. -- What a thick conjunction of farms,
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plantations, gardens, orchards, vineyards, &c. laden with every kind of fruit! -- How charmingly diversified with lofty hills, and flowery dales! Extensive forests, and shady groves! How plentifully watered with living fountains, purling rills, and navigable rivers throughout the whole; for fifteen hundred miles in length, and near a thousand in breadth! -- And what elegant buildings adapted to all the purposes of life, both civil and religious! -- I stood, and gazed with pleasing astonishment, till the Angel ordered me to turn my face westward. I obeyed, and was equally surprised at the wide extended landscape.
This western part of America, is as yet but an uncultivated desart; the haunt of savages; and range of wild beasts. -- But the soil in general is much richer than that of the eastern division. The rivers too, are larger, and flow in greater numbers. The mountains indeed are numerous, and very high: Yet between them lie exceeding wide and level vallies; and to appearance fertile as the plains of Shinar, which they say, used to yield an hundred fold. I also perceived, that the settled part of our continent, is really but a little spot in comparison of the vast regions to whitemen as yet unknown.
Upon the whole, lost in wonder I could not avoid falling into this agreeable reflection, whilst surveying a beauteous world rising out of a dreary wilderness.
"It is as yet, scarce three hundred years since this quarter of the globe was first discovered by the European nations. Nor is above one hundred years elapsed, since any considerable improvements have been made in this northern continent. Yet at this day it contains by computation, at least three millions of Christian inhabitants; beside the heathenish tribes. Of whom there is perhaps, a much greater number than are yet registered in our accounts of those formidable warriors. -- How rapid must have been the growth of my native country! When in that short space of time, it has arisen to such a degree of wealth and grandeur, as to be able not only to cope with, but to bid defiance to Great-Britain itself. A power, which for ages past, was renowned for military prowess; and famous for victory and triumph. -- Blessed art thou O America! Thou shalt both do great things, and shall still prevail!"
How long I might have remained in this contemplative rapture I cannot tell, had not the Angel recalled my attention by
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a gentle touch on my side, and pointing his finger a little to the south-west, Celadon, says he, do you see yonder long valley. -- How full of the choicest timber! What fine springs it contains! And how many perennial rivers glide through it, at suitable distances! -- That whole region you may call Savagenia: It being designed for the future habitation of your now troublesome Indians. -- And that other valley; it is you may notice, as well wooded, and watered, and every way furnished with all the preparative accommodations for human life, as the first I shewed you. It lies to the north-west; and enjoys of the two, the clearest air; and by consequence, will prove the healthiest climate. -- This you may call Nigrania: It being allotted for the Negroes to dwell there, when the term of their vassalage is come to a period. -- And in all those vast spaces westward to the great ocean, there may be a French, a Spanish, a Dutch, an Irish, an English, &c. yea, a Jewish State here in process of time. -- And all of them united in brotherly affection, will at last form the most potent empire on the face of the earth.
Celedon. And is it possible! Pray what can ever urge that deluded people to come hither also?
Angel. Since their total expulsion from Palestine, they have been scattered as with a whirlwind, and dispersed into all lands. They are every where hated and despised. -- They are, as was foretold by their prophets, become a proverb, a taunt, an astonishment, an hissing, and execration in every part of the habitable world. -- But, at last, hearing the unbounded benevolence of the generous Americans toward all nations; and the unlimited toleration by them granted to every sect, and form of religion; they will hereafter gather in crouds, and fly to this continent as swarming bees to their chosen resting place; and they will be received without opposition. -- A settlement will be granted them in that pleasant spot, which you see reaching from a long chain of mountains westward to the sea. -- There they will join in civil society, according to their own notions of policy. Their state will be called New-Canaan. And on the banks of that copious, and gently flowing river, they will in time build a magnificent city, which may fitly named the New-Jerusalem.
Celedon. And will this now rejected people ever embrace the gospel, and profess the Christian religion?
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Angel. Yes. When the full era of their dereliction is accomplished, they shall do so. -- Grown weary of waiting for their Messiah, and convinced at length that he is already come, they will humbly acknowledge their once crucified King, heartily bow to his sceptre; and serve him with a fervency, that will excite even Pagans to emulation; and be a shame to you Christians: Who though in general you are very zealous for the several forms, are many of you, utter strangers, and some of you open enemies to the power of Godliness. -- In one word, they will transcend you in all the beauties of holiness, far as the star of evening outshines the languid constellations of the milky-way. Insomuch, that the real children of God in those days, will be surprised at their own former lukewarmness in the awful concerns of another world.
Celedon. Thrice happy event! The Lord hasten it. That occurrence will probably have a blessed influence toward the resuscitation of primitive piety, which was the splendid ornament of christianity in the apostolic age. But seems at present, like a plant in the drought of summer; which by long fading has lost much both of its original verdure and fragrancy.
Angel. You are not mistaken. The conversion of the Jews, will be as life from the dead to the Gentile church. -- It will greatly animate and revive true believers themselves. -- It will awaken many formal professors to righteousness. -- And will also, startle and alarm multitudes of stupid wretches, who had long slumbered in carnal security, even under the sound of the gospel. -- In short; it will be nothing less than the commencement of that stupendous work, which your divines justly denominate the glory of the latter days. -- This is that most illustrious operation of sovereign mercy, for which you have heard several pious ministers so often pray: And of which they speak in such high and lofty strains. -- In America God has determined to begin his last and greatest wonders among mankind. -- And in the west shall that propitious cloud arise, whose salutary shower will in the end refresh, and in an evangelical sense fructify the whole continent. -- It will water the Jewish state first; and in progression, borne as on the wings of the wind, visit all the rest, until the whole wilderness is gladdened by the nectareous drops, and the desert is made to rejoice, and blossom as a rose. -- It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.
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Celedon. And is this gracious visitation to be limited only to our American shores; and must it reach no farther than our western coasts?
Angel. No indeed! It shall by degrees, extend to the extremities of the Globe. The report will soon be borne by fame over the great ocean, and like a clap of seven-fold thunder, rouse every nation where it comes, and force them to a serious consideration of their latter end. -- None of them shall be excepted from this common privilege. For, the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Then will be fulfilled, that emblematical prediction recorded in the revelation. -- The seventh Angel sounded, and all Heaven rang with reverberating, solemn, triumphant acclamations: And as with one voice proclaimed his coronation, who is the adored proprietor of the universe. -- The kingdoms of this world, are become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ: And he shall reign for ever and ever. -- Then will the illustrious morning dawn, the true golden age commence. -- That era of light and love, foretold by so many inspired Prophets, and long expected by your progenitors of different nations, for several generations past. -- America I say, will be irradiated with the first, and brightest rays of that resplendant day, whose dazzling effulgence shall by degrees illuminate the darkest regions of the earth, and at length, replenish the whole world of mankind with spiritual glory.
Celedon. Thrice happy epocha!
And when will it begin? May a man of my age hope to see it? -- How glad would I be to known the precise juncture! Or at least, in what year it may be expected! -- The desire defered maketh the heart sick. -- Oh, that I did but know the blessed time!
Angel. Indulge no vain curiosity! You have been already cautioned against that error, when you inquired after my name. -- Neither am I able to resolve you in that instance. -- That hour is hitherto concealed in impenetrable darkness. -- It is not yet revealed even to the highest order of Angels. -- Let it suffice for you to know, that it will assuredly take place at the exact crisis ordained and appointed by infinite wisdom.
Celedon. Forgive the temerity of a wretched mortal! We are prone to search into future contingencies; and apt to seek forbidden knowledge. -- But may I not, Divine Prophet!
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May I not be permitted to ask, by what method this wonderful change shall be introduced among us, and by what means it will be effected? -- Who is meant by the Angel you spoke of? And what is signified by the sounding of his trumpet? In what sense the kingdoms of this world must become the property of Christ more than they at present are; or have ever yet been? And how long that delectable season shall continue after it is once begun? -- What unutterable satisfaction would it afford all the sincere votaries of religion, to hear you describe the nature, the manner, the latitude, the extent and the duration of that charming vicissitude of Divine Providence? We would listen to the pleasing narrative with exultation! With transport! With ravishment! -- If permitted, pray indulge an unworthy inquirer with a more particular delineation of that very grand and momentous dispensation. -- Long have I waited for instruction relating to these weighty points; but am at last, out of hope of receiving information from any uninspired man, even the predictions recorded in the scriptures, with reference to such extraordinary events, are covered with much darkness. And our best expositors greatly differ in opinion concerning them. For which reason, it is impossible to draw any certain and determinate conclusion from their disquisitions. All, all seems to be but probable conjecture at most. Whereas, the document of an angelic teacher, might be relied on with the firmest belief, and trusted in with indubitable dependence.
Angel. You have I find a great many questions to ask. And a degree of knowledge in regard to several particulars you mention, might perhaps, prove to your future advantage; and I could willingly gratify your inquisitive humour for as it [is] innocent; but at present am not allowed to proceed. Provided you make a proper improvement of what has been already revealed, you may be favored with another interview hereafter. When farther discoveries may be granted according to your desire. -- In the mean while, be careful to practise what you know. -- Be faithful. -- Be watchful. -- Be deligent. -- Be courageous. -- Be thankful. -- And finally, you may rest assured, that however the wheel of fate may turn and whatever changes may happen in the world, it shall always go well with the righteous. They shall stand in their lot, and a happy lot it is, and shall be through all the revolutions of time, and beyond it to eternal ages.
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Here my celestial visitant paused for a little while, and seemed like one lost in deep meditation. Then bounding from the earth, in the twinkling of an eye mingled with the blue ether.
And I saw him at that time no more.
Startled at the suddeness of his departure, I awoke; and found myself in the place, and posture aforesaid. -- The sun was by this time gone down, and night had drawn her starry curtain over the prostrate world. I arose, and greatly delighted with what I had seen and heard, walked softly home to my dwelling.
F I N I S.
The Continents of the New World as a Land of Biblical Prophecy
A Coming Golden Age?