Memoirs of a Huguenot Family: Translated and Compiled from the Original
Autobiography of the Rev. James Fontaine, by Ann Maury, Baltimore, 
Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967.  pp 311-324

back to Fontaine page;  back to Stith Valley front page


    The next interesting item of family history, which we are able to
    bring to light, is the fact, that, after our ancestors emigrated to
    Virginia, they were in the habit of meeting annually, to hold a
    solemn religious thanksgiving, in commemoration of their
    remarkable preservation, when attacked by French privateers, in
    the south of Ireland.
    The following; sermon was preached on one of these
    occasion.s, by the Rev. Peter Fontaine. It bears the date upon it,
    and also a pencil memorandum of the Psalms and Lessons which
    he had selected as appropriate to the services of the day.
                                1st June 1723
                     PROPER PSALMS XVIII., CIII., CXVIII.
                            I. LESSON. Exodus xiv.
              II. LESSON. Ephesians vi., from v. 14 to the end.
                                C O L L E C T.
    Almighty and most glorious Lord God, who dost render
    ineffectual the most subtle devices and best concerted measures
    of wicked and haughty men, and didst as at this time with a high
    hand and lifted up arm deliver us from our inveterate enemies;
    and hast sundry times before and since

    exerted thy power in our favor; grant that we may always bear
    so grateful a sense of these thy mercies in our minds, as may
    engage us to embrace all opportunities of worshiping; and
    glorifying and praising thee, with one mind and with one mouth,
    through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us,&c.
    S E R M O N .
    ROMANS, chap. xv. v.6.
     That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father
                          of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    THE Apostle, after having spent the fourteenth chapter in
    general exhortations and directions to stronger Christians,
    concerning their behavior towards their weaker brethren, in the
    use of their Christian liberty about things indifferent, and in
    advising them neither to be censorious in judging, nor yet to put
    a stumbling-block in the way one of another, proceeds in the
    former part of this chapter in the prosecution of the same
    argument and design, enjoining their forbearance from the
    example of our Blessed Lord, and concluding his
    exhortations and instructions with this short prayer to Almighty
    God, that they may with one heart, and one mind, glorify him;
    that is, that whatever reason they may have for small differences
    amongst themselves, they should lay them all aside, but more
    especially when they are about to give God glory.
    I #hall, therefore, upon this occasion, from these words
    observe to you:

    SERMON.       313
    Firstly, The duty here enjoined, that is, to glorify God.
    Secondly, The manner of performing it, that is; with one mind
    and one mouth. And,
    Thirdly, Put you in mind of your high obligations to comply
    with this duty, not only because of the signal deliverance which
    we are met together to celebrate, but by reason of that infinite
    number which God hath vouchsafed to favor us with at other
    times, no less worthy our remembrance and thanks.
    I begin with the duty here prescribed, and that is, to glorify
    God, by which we may not understand that we can add any
    thing to the glory and perfection of the divine nature, for that is
    not in our power; for God is the same yesterday and to-day, and
    admits of no new accessions to his glory, by any thing we can
    say or do. The glorifying of God consists chiefly in these two
    things in a high and honorable esteem and reverence for him in
    our hearts, and likewise in all outward expressions of honor,
    duty, and reverence towards him in our lives. The one is internal
    honor, whereby we are said to glorify God in our souls and
    spirits, the other is external, whereby we glorify him by our
    conversation and behavior.
    I say, to glorify God is to have a high and honorable esteem and
    reverence for him in our hearts; to entertain
    thoughts worthy of him, and have conceptions imprinted in our
    minds, suitable to the eminence and perfections of his nature,
    that is to apprehend him to be really as he is superlatively good,
    wise, powerful, holy, and just; to take him for our Maker and
    Preserver, and to own our absolute and entire dependence upon
    him, and pay him our homage and adoration accordingly. In
    such internal and devout acts of the mind, does the glorifying of
    God chiefly and principally consist;
    and without these it would be vain for any person to pretend
    that he doth in any measure comply with the duty in the text,
    though it doth not rest here, but manifests itself,
    Secondly, In external acts and expressions of honor suitable
    to them. To have such high thoughts of his infinite power and
    greatness, as to make us dread and stand in awe of him; such
    apprehensions of his justice as to make us fear offending him ;
    such an esteem of his wisdom as to cause us to admire him; and
    such a sense of his goodness, as to put us upon all acts of
    adoring and worshipping him, and to influence our whole
    behavior with regard to him and our neighbor. This the Psalmist
    styles, the giving unto God the honor that is due to his name,
    and worshipping him with a holy worship. Now, as this duty
    cannot be any where performed with such advantage as where
    the faithful are assembled together for that purpose, let us,
    therefore, with the royal prophet, take all opportunities to give
    thanks unto God, in the great congregation, and praise him
    among much people; and not only so, but let us, as we are in
    duty bound, and by promise engaged, miss no opportunity of
    assembling ourselves together, upon the days which we have set
    apart for returning our most hearty and unfeigned thanks for the
    great deliverances vouchsafed to our family, and glorify, and
    thank, and praise God with one heart and one mouth.
    And this leads unto the second thing I proposed to speak to;
    to wit the manner of performing this duty implied in these
    words of the text, where we have the unanimity that is to be
    observed in our devotions. To excite and encourage us to this,
    we have many precepts both in the Old and New Testament.
    Holy David calls upon the the people to worship the Lord in the
    beauty of holiness; that is, with a comely order
    SERMON. 315
    and harmony which will add a grace to it, and make it look fair
    and amiable. Elsewhere he wills them to serve and praise the
    Lord together, which refers in some measure to the unity of
    place, but more particularly to the unity of mind, that it be done
    with one heart, and with one consent.
    In the New Testament we find our Saviour making our
    agreement in our petitions necessary to the success of them;
    saying, If two or more shall agree on earth touching any thing
    that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is
    in heaven, for where two or three are gathered together in my
    name, there am I in the midst of them; where 'tis the harmony of
    our prayers, or the offering them up with one accord and one
    mind, that procures audience and acceptance of them; and
    therefore the last thing our blessed Lord prayed for in the behalf
    of his disciples and followers, was for this unity and harmony of
    mind: " That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I
    in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may
    believe that thou hast sent me ;" where he begs his Father to
    work the hearts of his followers to that temper of mind and
    affection that was between his Father and him, which would be
    the best argument to convince mankind of the truth of his
    mission and doctrine; for the world would sooner believe that
    God had sent him, if his disciples could agree together in what
    they desire, and in what they profess, rather than if they clash or
    differ in either, and pray without or against one another ; for
    which reason St. Paul beseeches the Corinthians by the name of
    Christ, that there might be no divisions amongst them in those
    things, but that they may be perfectly joined together in the
    same mind and in the same judgment. In his Epistle to the
    Philippians he exhorts them to stand fast in one spirit and in
    mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel; and further,
    he beseeches them by all that is dear and sacred, to be like-
    minded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one
    mind, which is what our text here calls us to. And that this is a
    possible duty we find from many passages both in the Old and
    New Testament. Jerusalem, which in the Scripture phrase
    signifies the whole nation of the Jews, is expressly said to be at
    unity within itself, for thither the tribes went up, even the tribes
    of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, and to give thanks unto the
    name of the Lord, which the Psalmist declares as matter of great
    joy. " I was glad," says he, " when they said unto me, we will go
    unto the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand in thy gates, O
    In the New Testament we read of the primitive Christians
    that they were all of one heart and of one mind; that they were
    continually together in the temple blessing and praising God;
    that they met together, in one place, with one accord, and with
    one mind; that they continued steadfast in the Apostle's doctrine
    and fellowship, in breaking bread, and in prayer; all which, and
    many more testimonies that might be cited, plainly show that
    blessed harmony and concord that was found among them in
    matters of religion and the worship of God, and that there was a
    time when men joined together with one mind to glorify their
    great Creator. The many precepts to unity show it to be a
    possible and a practicable duty, and the many sharp rebukes of
    divisions, and cautions against neglects of this kind, manifest
    that they are not unavoidable, else the precepts and rebukes
    would both be to no purpose.
    Having now done with the duty here enjoined, as also the
    manner of performing it there remains that we consider in the
    third place the particular obligations our family are un
    SERMON.   317
    der of complying with it. Let us pass by those we are under to
    Almighty God for our creation, preservation and redemption,
    and all the other blessings of this life which are without number,
    and which we enjoy in common with the rest of mankind, and let
    us turn our eyes upon that continued chain of miracles which
    hath been wrought in our favor, and which are sufficient to
    rouse the most stupid to a sense of the duty enjoined in the text.
    To date our relation as high as the deliverance of our parents out
    of the bondage of France, we will find subject matter enough to
    make us cry out with holy David, " O how great is thy goodness
    which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast
    wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men."
    Several months was our parent obliged to shift amongst
    forests and deserts for his safety, because he had preached the
    word of God to a congregation of innocent and sincere persons,
    who desired to be instructed in their duty and confirmed in their
    faith. The woods afforded him a shelter, and the rocks a resting-
    place; but his enemies gave him no quiet until, of his own
    accord, he delivered himself up to their custody. They loaded his
    hands with chains, his feet stuck fast in the mire, a dungeon was
    his abode, and murderers and thieves his companions, until God,
    by the means of a pious gentlewoman, whose kindness ought to
    be remembered by us even to latest posterity, withdrew him
    from thence, and was the occasion that his confinement was
    more tolerable.
    His charge was preaching in the woods and praying aloud
    in the prison; by the former they pretended that he perverted the
    fidelity of the people towards their prince, and by the latter
    interrupted their devotions at Mass, both which accusations,
    could they have been fairly made out, would have


    proved matter of death, or at least long imprisonment; but
    He, who blows upon the schemes of the wicked, and baffles all
    their designs, had so contrived it that the witnesses should
    mistake the date of the time that he preached, and the substance
    of the prayer, insomuch that he was released, to the great
    satisfaction of his friends.
    Alas! his sorrows for this time did not end here, but rather
    this was the beginning of woe. During his confinement, which
    had lasted nearly a year, his flock had either been vanquished
    or scattered, there was scarcely any footsteps of them to be
    The persecution grew warmer and sharper, and whosoever
    would not bow the knee before Baal was cast into prison, where
    soul and body were kept together merely that they might endure
    the torment of a thousand deaths. The faggot and sword, the
    wheel and the galleys, were employed in making converts to that
    monstrous church.
    There, O Rome ! did thy emissaries glut themselves with the
    spoils of the innocent, and wallowed in the blood of the
    guiltless; there, if ever, wert thou satiated with cruelty and 
    At that time our father, with his beloved and muchlamented
    consort, our dear mother, was obliged to fee for safety. They left
    friends and relatives, brothers and sisters, lands and houses, and
    all they held dear, for the sake of Him who once laid down his
    life for them. Human nature is incapable of more glorious
    conduct than theirs, which could have been carried to no higher
    degree of perfection, unless God had required them to seal their
    faith with their blood. Such actions are above the conception
    and envy of the mean part of mankind, and can fire none but
    the most generous souls. It
    SERMON,    319
    is the pious courage and divine resolution of our parents, that
    we, their descendants, with eagerness should desire to inherit a
    great measure of, in case God should think fit to lay upon us this
    heavy task. We may look back and see them, hand in hand,
    flying from the pestilential breath of the whore of Babylon,
    making their escape through difficulties and dangers, death
    pursuing close behind, until at last they were safely landed on the
    English shore. Thus O Lord, didst thou exert thy mighty arm in
    behalf of our parents, and withdrew them from the slavery of
    Egypt. Thou broughtest them through the great and wide ocean,
    and placedst their feet on dry land in a place of safety.
    This is but a short and imperfect sketch of the deliverance
    which God wrought in behalf of those who were immediately
    before us. What he did for our fathers in former days is not as
    yet come to my knowledge, but if I mistake not, some of them
    were favored with great and mighty deliverances.
    As to ourselves, I need make use of no argument to persuade
    you that we have been the peculiar care of the Almighty, and
    that he hath delivered us sundry times from dangers and death.
    These were refreshed to our memories, after a very lively
    manner, in that good and pious discourse which was delivered to
    us this morning, and which ought not to fail of having a lasting
    effect upon our future behavior.
    What I would endeavor to impress upon your minds is, that
    these mercies loudly call for our sincere thanks and humble
    acknowledgments, and that we must be highly insensible, if
    we cannot perceive the necessity of it.
    Doth God vouchsafe to save and deliver in this miraculous
    manner, and can we forget? Can we scarcely be prevailed upon
    to spare two days in one year to meet together, and glo-
    rify him with one heart and with one mouth? When the fire
    and the sword, death and destruction stared us in the face, we
    would have been glad to compound for many days of hard and
    difficult service ; nay, had God desired some great thing of us
    that we should have remembered these deliverances daily, we
    should not have thought it hard. But perhaps time, which
    consumes and devours every thing, hath blotted these mercies
    out of our minds and memories ; or, our powerful Protector hath
    shortened his arm on some occasions since, and hath not proved
    the same God still, to save and deliver. No; surely it can be
    neither the one nor the other of these, for it is but nineteen years
    since the first, and fourteen since the last happened; and his
    wonders have been manifested sundry times since.
    This neglect in some measure proceeds from the same
    infatuation which possessed the Israelites formerly, when God
    by his prophet Hosea reprimands them for their slothfulness and
    inconstancy. " O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah,
    what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning
    cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away." God's favors are
    showered upon us abundantly, I may say, as the dew of the
    morning but to what purpose, if we are unmindful of them, and
    suffer the cares of the world to stifle our gratitude ? Can we be
    so unreasonable as to imagine that he will for ever
    give, if we continue to forget?
    Common blessings, such as he dispenseth to just and unjust,
    he will not, perhaps, deprive us of. He will not make our
    inheritance dry, while he watereth that of our neighbor. But are
    these the only blessings we stand indebted for? Are these such as
    gave rise to the solemnity of this day in particular? Are we
    favored with no other distinguishing marks of his kind
    Providence and goodness?   What, then, mean those
    SERMON.    321
    wonderful deliverances vouchsafed to our forefathers time out
    of mind those to our immediate parents and those to ourselves
    without number ?
    Let these reflections, my brethren, be a spur to all noble and
    generous exercises; and as God hath thought fit to distinguish us
    by his miraculous care and protection, and hath increased our
    family considerably, let us distinguish ourselves by our virtue,
    and our zeal for his service. Let our eyes, instructed to survey
    higher objects, overlook the dazzling and false grandeur of the
    world, pierce through the clouds and vapors which intercept, and
    fix upon the Sun of Righteousness only. Let our hearts admit of
    no affections or passions to the prejudice of those which are due
    to our great Deliverer, and let the whole man, body and soul, be
    dedicated to his service. Let us, as the Apostle in the text enjoins,
    with one heart and one mind glorify God. Let us, upon no trivial
    occasion, omit assembling ourselves together, for God, without
    exception of one more than the other, in the day that our enemies
    pressed sore upon us, delivered us all; and shall any of us be
    backward to return him thanks? No,certainly; I hope better
    things of you, my brethren, and that none of you can be so
    degenerate as to return his loving-kindness thus with ingratitude.
    It is the joy and happiness of angels, and their continual
    exercise by praise and thanksgiving, to glorify the Lord of the
    whole universe. Why may not we take the opportunity to imitate
    them, by joining our hearts and voices to the heavenly chorus ?
    Our deliverances have been wonderful and miraculous, and why 
    may not our thanks be accompanied with rapture? 
    Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his
    holy name. Let the people praise thee, O God; yea, let all the
    people praise thee. These should be upon all
    occasions our themes, and we should be delighted with these
    divine hymns. Could we once raise our souls to that pitch of
    devotion, the world and all its false splendor would pass by us
    unobserved, and its necessary incumbrances would seem to be
    only small lets and hindrances to our divine contemplations.
    Virtue and religion would be our chief study, and we should
    leave them as an inheritance to our children.
    And since the only way to communicate the knowledge of
    the great deliverance of the Almighty to our families and children
    hereafter, is, to set apart certain seasons yearly to renew them to
    our minds and memories; let me beseech you by all that is dear
    and sacred, not to absent yourselves from these meetings upon
    any slender excuse, but that you be reader and willing at all
    times, with one mind and mouth to glorify God. Some may
    perhaps say, that this duty may be as well performed by each
    one in his own particular family; but I leave it to your own
    judgments, whether you think this will redound so much the
    glory of God and the good of our souls. Nay, let me ask whether
    you have not been more deeply affected with the importance of
    this duty at those times when it has been our happiness, with one
    mind and one heart, to join in glorifying our great Creator? Has
    not your zeal and devotion been then carried to a greater height
    than at any other time; and at the conclusion of the day have you
    not felt more
    comfort and satisfaction from your performances ? I am apt to
    think that you have all found an inexpressible difference. There
    is something in acknowledgment which is burdensome to a
    grateful soul, and requires to be communicated before it can be
    easy. It is this which makes the royal Prophet launch out into so
    great lengths, as to invite the most inanimate things to his
    assistance, when he is about to give God glory.
    SERMON.   323
    He says: Praise ye him sun and moon, and all ye stars of light.
    Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps; fire
    and hail, &c., &c.
    For my part I feel a sensible accession to my joy in the
    presence of each one of you, and I cannot but think that every
    single person adds weight before the throne of grace to our
    reasonable petitions, and altogether harmony and beauty to our
    praises and thanksgivings, and invites a greater measure of the
    Holy Spirit. This is the way indeed to praise the Lord in the
    beauty of holiness, and to worship him with a holy worship.
    We, whose duty it is to administer unto you in holy things,
    will not fail laying before you after the best manner we are able,
    the remarkable deliverances which have been performed in favor
    of our family, and put you in mind of your high obligations,
    nay, we will endeavor to go before you in the performance of
    this duty of thanksgiving by our example and instruction, and
    would to God that every one of you would strive not only to
    come after or keep up with us, but rather to excel us in these
    Would to God that you would make it your business to
    teach them to your children, that they may be qualified to
    perpetuate them to infinite generations to come, and thereby
    engage the protection and draw down the blessings of the
    Almighty upon them. For God is not like Isaac who had no
    more than one blessing in store. He bath millions of millions
    to bestow upon them who love and fear him. He can bless
    in time of war, he can bless in time of peace, he can bless in
    time of sickness, he can bless in time of health,* he
    * The ancient manuscript broke off here, and the sermon has been finished
    by a different hand.
    can bless in the days of poverty and in those of prosperity. Let
    us not faint, my brethren, if our Heavenly Father should see fit to
    try our faith in the furnace of affliction. We have his assurance
    that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.
    All things ! What can be more comprehensive and encouraging ?
    Let us then love the Lord and trust in him. " Blessed is the man
    that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is; for he
    shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out
    her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but
    her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of
    drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." "Trust ye in the
    Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
    For of him, and through him, and to him are all things, to whom
    be glory for ever. Amen.