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[442] in chief; he placed his trust ‘in the protection of an
CHAP. Lxviii} 1776. June.
all-wise and beneficent Being;’ and knew no fear.

The new provincial congress of New Jersey, which came fresh from the people with ample powers, and organized itself in the evening of the eleventh of June, was opened with prayer by John Witherspoon, an eloquent Scottish minister of the same faith with John Knox; a man of great ability, learning, and liberality, ready to dash into pieces all images of false gods. Born near Edinburgh, trained up at its university, in 1768 he removed to Princeton, to become the successor of Jonathan Edwards, Davies, and Finley, as president of its college. A combatant of scepticism and the narrow philosophy of the materialists, he was deputed by Somerset county to take part in applying his noble theories to the construction of a civil government.

The body of which he was a member was instructed to prepare for the defence of the colony against an enemy, whose arrival was hourly expected with force enough to lay waste its villages and drench its plains in blood; next, to decide the question of independence; and lastly, to form and establish a constitution. They promptly resolved to reinforce the army of New York, with three thousand three hundred of the militia. William Franklin, the last royalist governor, still lingered at Perth Amboy; and in the hope of dividing public opinion by the semblance of a regular constitutional government, he had, by proclamation, called a meeting of the general assembly for the twentieth of June. The convention, on the fourteenth, voted that his proclamation ought not to be heeded; the next day he was arrested; as he refused

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