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chose rather by a grave irony to laugh him out of it. What an example was thus set to the gentlemen and officers and public functionaries of America! How does Washington tower above those who, while acknowledging that the practice is indefensible by any laws of God or man, and utterly opposed to them, and condemned by common sense and true honour and humanity, yet, in a most inconsistent and cowardly manner declare that, nevertheless, such is their apprehension of public opinion, they might be induced to engage in this murderous act! To receive a blow, be felled to the earth before a crowd, and then ask pardon for having provoked the blow, must surely be considered in a young officer as an act of mora) courage which is prompted by the Spirit of God.
One question only remains to be settled :—Was Washington a communicant of the Church? That he was, might be reasonably inferred from the indication of youthful piety, his religious, his ministerial offices at the head of his regiment, the active part taken in the concerns of the parish, his habits of devotion, his regular attendance at church, his conscientious observance of the Sabbath, his strict fasting on appointed days. It is also believed that he was a communicant, from the testimony of the Rev. Lee Massey, as handed down through his family, and also of others which have come down to us.
The testimony which has often been adduced to prove that, during the war, he did commune on a certain Sabbath in a Presbyterian church at Morristown, New Jersey, ought to be enough to satisfy a reasonable man of the fact. Add to these the declaration of so many, in the sermons and orations at the time of his death. But still it has been made a question, and it may be well to consider on what ground. It is certainly a fact, that for a certain period of time during his Presidential term, while the Congress was held in Philadelphia, he did not commune. This fact rests on the authority of Bishop White, under whose ministry the President sat, and who was on the most intimate terms with himself and Mrs. Washington. I will relate what the Bishop told myself and others in relation to it. During the session or sessions of Congress held in Philadelphia, General Washington was, with his family, a regular attendant at one of the churches under the care of Bishop White and his assistants. On Communion-days, when the congregation was dismissed, (except the portion which communed,) the General left the church, until a certain Sabbath on which Dr. Abercrombie, in his sermon, spoke of the impropriety of turning our backs on the Lord's table,—that is, neglecting to commune,—from which time General Washington came no more on Communion-days. Bishop
White supposes that the General understood the “words turning our backs on the Lord's table” in a somewhat different sense than was designed by the preacher; that he supposed it was intended to censure those who left the church at the time of its administration, and, in order not to seem to be disrespectful
be disrespectful to that ordinance, thought it better not to be present at all on such occasions. It is needless to attempt to conjecture what may have been the reason of this temporary (as we hope it was) suspension of the act of communicating. A regard for historic truth has led to the mention of this subject. The question as to bis ever having been a communicant has been raised on this fact, as stated by Bishop White, and we have thought it best to give the narrative as we heard it from the lips of the Bishop himself. It has been asked why he did not, in the dying hour, send for some minister and receive the emblems of a Saviour's death. The same might be asked of thousands of pious communicants who do not regard the sacrament as indispensable to a happy death and glorious eternity, as some Romanists do. Moreover, the short and painful illness of Washington would have forbidden it. But his death was not without proofs of a gracious state. He told to surrounding friends that it had no terrors for him,--that all was well. The Bible was on his bed: he closed his own eyes, and, folding his arms over his breast, expired in peace.
Fairfax Parish, Fairfax County.
The town of Alexandria was at first called Hunting Creek Warehouse, sometimes Bell Haven, and consisted of a small establishment at that place. Its growth was encouraged by successive Acts of the Legislature, establishing semi-annual fairs and granting certain privileges to those who attended them. In the year 1762, it was enlarged by the laying off of numerous lots on the higher ground, belonging to Dade, West, and the Alexanders, after which it improved rapidly, so that at the close of the last or beginning of the present century its population was ten thousand, and its commerce greater than it now is. So promising was it at the close of the war, that its claims were weighed in the balance with those of Washington as the seat of the National Government. It is thought that, but for the unwillingness of Washington to seem partial to Virginia, Alexandria would have been the chosen spot, and that on the first range of hills overlooking the town the public buildings would have been erected. Whether there had been any public worship or church at Alexandria previous to this enlargement of it, and the great impulse thus given to it, does not appear from the vestry-book, though it is believed that there was. But soon after this, in the year 1764, Fairfax parish is established, and measures taken for the promotion of the Church in this place. The vestrybook commences in 1765. At that time there were two churches in the new parish of Fairfax,-one at the Falls, called, as the present one is, Little Falls Church; the position of the other—the Lower Church—is not known. It may have been an old one at Alexandria.
Among the first acts of the vestry was the repairing of the two old churches in the parish, at a cost of more than thirty-two thousand pounds of tobacco. In the year 1766, it is determined to build two new churches,—one at the Little Falls, very near the old one, and one in Alexandria, to contain twenty-four hundred square feet, and to be high-pitched so as to admit of galleries. Mr. James Wrenn agrees to build the former, and Mr. James Parsons the other, for about six hundred pounds each. A most particular contract is