Boston: T. and J. Fleet, in Cornhill, and J. Gill... 1779. 38pp, with the half title [which has loosened]. Disbound. Else Very Good.
Stillman had been an original trustee of Rhode Island College [later Brown University] and, after the Revolution, served as one of Boston's twelve delegates to the Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
This is a significant Revolutionary War sermon, emphasized by his admonition, "Let us not amuse ourselves with a prospect of peace, and in consequence thereof abate in our preparations for the war. If we should, it may prove greatly injurious to the freedom and glory of this RISING EMPIRE." He advocates separation of Church and State, the abolition of slavery, and the extinction of religious establishments, ideas which would in substantial part be incorporated into the Massachusetts Constitution the following year.
"The General Court invited him to preach the annual election sermon in 1779 when the most vital public concern was the policy of the constitutional convention. Stillman frankly argued the necessity of inserting in the constitution of the state a Bill of Rights and provision for the separation of church and state, since only by this procedure could the sacred rights of conscience be secured" [DAB]. The Massachusetts Constitution, drafted by John Adams and adopted in 1780, is the oldest extant State constitution, has served as the model for many others, and includes the Declaration of Rights advocated here by Stillman.
FIRST EDITION. Evans 16537. Vail, New England Election Sermons 22. Not in Gephart, Newberry Library, Stevens Rare Americana, Church. Item #34572