Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

evangelizing the world. The mighty work is to be done by voluntary associations, formed on the unalterable principle of using no curnal weapons; of preaching nothing but the simple gospel of Christ; in no spirit but that of Christian love.

It deserves to be remarked, too, and remembered, that associations, counsels, united efforts, such as these, promote intelligence, order, peace, and in a word, all that blesses and adorns human nature. One may see their happy influence spreading through the youth, the manhood, and the old age,


every community where they exist. There all is healthful and active;—all is life, and hope, and joy.

But if one asks, why this scene is not fully realized in our country, where religion is perfectly free; I answer—it is going on to be so. But, from the nature of man, moral causes operate slowly; and time must be allowed for the production of their full effect—especially where counteracting causes are in full activity. Our forefathers, unavoidably, brought with them many of the habits, feelings, and principles of the countries from which they came: they brought, with their good things, the fatal policy of using carnal weapons; of mingling the church and state; of employing human authority instead of the authority of the Bible: they brought the spirit of fierce contention for doctrine, and with it, in many instances, that death-like coldness in regard to vital religion, which had, during a long period, spread through the churches of Europe. Now all these evils were to be done away; and the people brought directly under the full influences of Bible truth, before they would pursue the course marked out by the Apostles,

and trodden by their immediate disciples. This was not the work of a day.

The spirit of infidelity, too, has been imported into our country; and that dread of the influence of religion, which has arisen from its perversion and abuse in other lands. These have been so great, as, in the minds of many, to justify the natural repugnance of the human heart to religion. And opposition has been made-it is still made—to its propagation, both in this country and abroad. Suspicions are entertained of its friends, and sinister objects are attributed to all their plans of Christian benevolence.

But-everlasting praise be given to God!—this opposition has been overruled for good: and still greater good will hereafter be educed from it. It was, perhaps, the very thing which the church needed, to make her see and feel, that carnal weapons cannot be safely or efficiently used in her warfare; and that, although invincible and invulnerable, when clad in the armor of righteousness, she is weak and defenceless without it. In other countries, when pressed by her enemies, and feeling her weakness, she looks to the arm ‘of flesh for protection. Here she is pressed by the wholesome necessity of putting sto silence the ignorance of foolish men, by well doing;" she is obliged to act in such way, that, if her enemies speak evil of her, they must speak falsely. She can do nothing but go forth, in the spirit of her redeeming Lord, and proclaim the truth in love, and stretch out her hands in prayer for the blessing of the Almighty. And this is the very thing which God intended she should do. In the sure,

In the sure, but silent operation of moral causes, this truth will yet be more

clearly seen, more deeply felt, and more fully acted on, in this country: and there will be great improvements in the measures adopted for promoting religion in the world; and great increase in the efficiency of the means employed. No new truth, indeed, will be discovered in religion. That which was heard from the beginning, which the eyes of apostles saw, and which their hands handled of the word of life, will be proclaimed through every age, until Jesus Christ shall come the second time: nor will there be a discovery of any new principles of action, in pulling down the strong holds of sin, and building up the kingdom of Christ. But the disciples of Christ will just do, what the Saviour has always told them to do: and the ministers of religion will go and tell the people what the Bible means, and thus make them understand what God has said, and done, and requires. And they will so breathe the love of God, that the people will feel its heavenly warmth;—and God will honor his own word;—and it shall have free course and be glorified.

Is it presumptuous to suppose, that one great end which God had in view, in- I had almost said-revealing this country to our forefathers, and freeing it from all foreign authority, and establishing here complete religious liberty, was, that the church might be restored to her primitive purity, and have a full opportunity of learning again the true method of promoting religion; and that the Bible might recover all its lost honors? Did not God intend, by sustaining the cause of rational liberty, during the revolutions and fearful convulsion of half a century, to af

ford new facilities for discovering the entire energy of true religion; and showing by what instrumentality, and by what mode of using that instrumentality, every strong hold in the whole empire of sin is to be pulled down; and the city of God built up, in all its beauty and glory? And is not this work going on? Do we not see that, wherever liberty is enjoyed, there also is now displayed, in some degree, the energy of the Bible and Missionary cause? And that wherever men go, with the simple purpose of declaring the truth of God; and where they clearly state the meaning of the Bible, there sound revivals of religion take place? God is teaching us important lessons: and it is every day becoming more apparent, that they who are contending for the mere dry bones of theology, or the outward forms of religion, or for ecclesiastical authority, are digging the grave for their own favorite systems—while, everywhere, the blessing of Heaven attends efforts made in the true spirit of the gospel.

Providence has placed us in a situation very peculiar, in a country, where, as far as the mighty influences of religion aré concerned, nothing has authority or power but the Bible.

This is more and more seen, every year. And when it shall be fully understood, that among the teeming millions of our country there is nothing to regulate the awful energies of the religious principle, but the authority of the word of God, the Bible will be studied with an intensity of interest, and used with a fidelity of application, as yet unknown in these latter days. And it will carry its authority more entirely through every depart

ment of the church, than has ever been witn esed since the days of the Apostles. The truth will then go with lightning glance and electric force, from heart to heart, and from land to land—and the earth be soon filled with the knowledge and glory of the Lord.

This leads to a second general proposition, deduced as an inference from the preceding.



1. We owe it to Him who is both King in Zion, and Lord of the whole earth, to perform our part of this service.—It is his gracious providence, which has placed us in the peculiarly favorable situation which we have just considered.

He has removed every yoke from our necks; separated us from every restraining influence; and given us the fullest opportunity, ever enjoyed by any people, to put forth all our strength, to show the entire power of religion, regulated by nothing but divine truth.

The gospel finds us in circumstances more happy, in these respects, than those of any other people, from the time when the heavenly host sang their song of glory and of peace, at the advent of the Messiah, to this day. And we owe it all to God. The Head of the Church has ordered it so.

Now, according to the religion of Christ, every opportunity of doing good, brings with it a corresponding obligation. And as our opportunities are peculiarly favorable, so our obligations are peculiarly

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »