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weighty. We are more bound than any other people on the face of the earth, to advance the cause of the Redeemer, in proportion to our means and numbers. Heavy, indeed, will be our reckoning, and terrible the visitations of justice, should we failgreat our glory and felicity, should we feel the extent of our obligations, and bring our conduct up to the measure of duty.
2. We owe it to our country, to make her a blessing among the nations of the earth. The world has seen enough of the glory of war, and the honor of warriors. The desideratum in the great community of nations is one people, which, without ambition and the pride of conquest, shall stand forth an example of the mild virtues of justice, mercy, and piety. Mankind have suffered enough from “wars and fighting.”
Smitten with unnumbered evils, the human race is sighing for the reign of peace. The world needs the moral influence of a great nation, where public sentiment is sanctified; and whence shall emanate a blessing, to be felt wherever the winds of heaven and the waves of ocean can bear its inhabitants. This will weave a garland of higher fragrance, and more unfading colors, than any which the warrior or the statesman can wreathe round the brow of his country. It will do more, too, for national security, than any thing else which the wit of man can devise. For every thing depends on national character. To this, free institutions communicate energy, activity, versatility, and great richness of resources; but nothing can purify it, and raise it to a lofty tone, and sustain it, except true religion.
When an individual under the influence of Christianity, is brought up to the determination that he will be a benefactor to his fellow-men, his character is formed according to a high standard, and is fixed on a sure foundation. So with a nation: let the great body of the people in a free Christian country resolve that they will bless the whole world—that their liberality shall send the pure gospel to all the benighted tribes of men—and the national character is elevated; a spectacle of moral grandeur is exhibited, which angels must contemplate with rapture.
3. We owe it to the nations of the earth, to send them the blessings of salvation.—Religion teaches that the human race constitutes one family. God hath made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell on the face of the whole earth. And Christianity obliges us to recognize this common brotherhood; "to do good, and to communicate.”
Among pagan nations, alien and enemy are synonymous terms. But the religion revealed by the common Father of men, acknowledges all as his children; and enforces, by all the sanctions of eternal love and justice, the duty of doing all the good we can, to every part of the human family. No matter what curse of color or condition has been inflicted; no matter what form of misery weighs down the sufferer; no matter how low he is sunk in the scale of wretchedness; the only question we have to ask is, Can we do good to him without injury to another? And the answer determines the measure of our duty.
But if we cannot, separately, do the good which the Bible tells us must be done; we can do it collect
ively. According to the gospel rule, this is enough to show that it is our duty to unite for that purpose. And all the knowledge, the wisdom, the energy of our best men, ought to bear on this mighty subject of co-operation, among American Christians, for evangelizing the world. I do not presume to undertake so great a theme. I only throw out a few hints, to show the incalculable importance of the object.
The moral power of a people is in the compound ratio of their liberty, intelligence, and virtue. Of this England affords striking evidence. She is inferior, in population and territory to many other countries: but not so in influence on the affairs of the world. The United States present another instance. Our remote situation from other civilized nations, and the greenness of our youth being considered, the influence of our country, on the public sentiment of the world, is truly astonishing. Spain began her work of colonizing the Southern Continent, before England planted settlements in North America. Yet, now, the United States exert greater moral influence on the world, than all of Spanish name or blood in Europe and America. The reason is, we have liberty; we have the religion of the Bible; we have general education.
But the influence of our country rapidly increases. Our population grows at the rate of more than a thousand a day. With this, there is an equally rapid increase in the facilities of intercourse, between the nations of the earth. Half the distance between this country and Europe has been annihilated, within the
last five and twenty years. During that period, our population has risen from six to twelve millions. Look forward twenty-five, fifty, a hundred years. When the population of our country shall equal that of all Europe, who can calculate the extent of her influence? It will emanate from the intellectual and moral character of the people. It will take its coloring from our religion. According to the principles of obligation laid down in the gospel, this country does indeed owe, and long will owe, a deep debt to mankind. Its amount must be determined by our moral power, as a people, of affecting their interests. And verily it is not small. Free, educated, with the Bible in our hands, and nothing to prevent its full influence on our hearts; at perfect liberty to meet in any numbers, and consult on any measures; there is nothing here to hinder the entire concentration of all the resources of the church. And I cannot help repeating, that American Christians are in the best possible condition to do good, precisely in the way in which most good can be done; to use just the weapons of warfare which apostles found to be mighty; to go in the simplicity of the gospel, with the single-heartedness of truth . and love, and carry to our perishing fellow-men, the blessings of salvation. Indeed we are debtors to the world. The Head of the Church has brought this great debt upon us, and it must be paid. Now how shall we pay it? This is the question for most solemn consideration; and let none put it off; for the debt must be paid.
We owe it to the universal church of Christ, to do our part in carrying forward his cause, and accomplishing his purposes of mercy in the world.
As there is but one true religion, so there is but one church of the Lord Jesus Christ among men. The obligation to send the gospel to every creature rests on the whole body of the faithful. They must see to it, that the messages of mercy are sent to the ends of the earth. All must do their part of this work of love. But as God has placed us in a situation peculiarly favorable to our feeling the full power of religious truth, and so of being peculiarly holy, and peculiarly devoted to the cause of our gracious Redeemer; so the church at large, and the world, ought to be made to see and feel our warmer piety, our higher and holier zeal, our more expansive benevolence.
For ages, the true method of promoting religion had been sadly misunderstood. And when Providence placed the church in America on its own resources, the general expectation was, that we should become a nation of infidels. And even now, thousands in the world imagine that religion cannot live and flourish without the fostering care of civil government. America, therefore, owes it to the universal interests of the church, and to that method of promoting religion, which must be every where adopted, before religion can have universal sway, to be very holy, very zealous, very benevolent—to undertake enterprises or a scale which measures the earth, and to demonstrate that they can be accomplished by the power of truth and love. The church in this country must not only