Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση


[ocr errors]

perpetuated, only by placing, as a people, our grateful trust in God and complying with the claims imposed upon us by his goodness, will, I think, be manifest from the following considerations.

1. We can in no other way secure the favor of God upon the destinies of the nation. The Most High ruleth over the kingdoms of

In his hand it is to plant and build, and to pluck up and destroy. Who can doubt this, that believes there is a God and that he created the heaven and the earth. Surely, he is Lord over the domains of his own creation; and will perform his righteous pleasure among the nations. Nor does it ever enter into his purposes to treat them without regard to their conduct. For the truth rests on the foundation of his essential goodness, and it has been fully attested in his revelations to Israel and by his conduct in the earth, that he will not cast off the people who put their trust in him; and that, though he bear long with those that refuse and rebel, he will not forget to punish. And shall we be exempt from the general laws of his providence ? Can this nation withdraw itself from his domains ? Can it change the nature of his purposes of government? Or, if he come forth to punish, can it avoid feeling the terror of his indignation?

Truly a weighty responsibility devolves upon us. God who has been the deliverer of our fathers and has brought us into their inheritance with many added gifts, has come, demanding of us the acknowledgment and trust of grateful hearts,

in order that he may continue to us, and to those who come after us, our rich inheritance. Unlike the critical times of our nation's adversity, this is the crisis of her prosperity. The issues dependent, are most weighty; and are to be felt in the joys or woes of the many millions who are coming forward to occupy the bounds of our habitation. If we put our trust in God; if the sentiment be broad and deep in the nation; no doubt he will go with us in favor and perpetuate his heavenly and worldly gifts with us and our children, and “increase them more and more.” But if we withdraw our confidence from him; if we ungratefully merge the thought of his goodness in our own worldliness and pride and lust; the scourges of vengeance are in his storehouse, and he will no doubt draw them forth for our punishment. It is only for him to withdraw from us the heavenly gifts of his grace, and convert our worldly gifts into snares of destruction; it is only for him to commission the evils of famine, pestilence, anarchy and war to pass through the land; and we and our children shall feel the tremendous scourgings of his rod.

But the question whether we respond to the demand of God or not, has a most manifest connection with many of the secondary sources of our safety or danger ;-a connection which must be conceded, even by him who is so hardy as to deny that God has a direct agency over the destinies of nations. I proceed, therefore, to remark on the connection of our gratitude with our prosper

2. That it is the only means of maintaining a healthy tone of moral sentiment in the nation.

Need I show you how necessary a pure state of private and public morals is, to the welfare of a people? Vices are the scourges of those who practice them; they contaminate those who are in their vicinity; they carry distress and mourning into the relations of life and society; and they embitter the possession of every gift of God. What woes does that nation embosom in itself that is corrupted in its own sins? A nation in which neither the fear of God, respect for an oath, nor regard for a future state, stand as barriers against crime or securities for truth and justice? And if such shall ever become the fate of this nation generally, that her inhabitants, casting off the fear of God and man, are openly defiled with every pollution and crime, she will need no foreign enemy, she will need no domestic intriguer, to render desolate her joys. With her own vices shall she be crushed, and perish in her sins; and her name be placed on the catalogue of nations that have been whelmed in this vortex of ruin.

How then shall we rescue our country from so tremendous a fate, and preserve the fair possessions God has given us, uncorrupt to other generations? On what secondary resources we rely to strengthen in the minds of our citizens and of rising generations the obligations to chastity, temperance and self-government; and to truth, justice and charity in their intercourse with one another? Can we trust to the bonds of self-interest? But


the one who has surrendered himself to sin, has already relinquished his best interests in time to his lusts : and how shall he, by this consideration alone, be withdrawn from his wickedness; or others be restrained from rushing upon the same mad career? Can we trust to the influence of reputation? But the law of honor sinks or rises with the men who enact it: and it is facile enough to accompany society down into all those vices which degrade, torment, and destroy. No; it is the law. of God only that can sustain a healthy tone of morals in a community: a perfect, unbending standard of purity, enforced by his own eternal sanctions.

And in order that God may address his law to us and our children with power: it is for us gratefully to subject ourselves with all our interests to him as, our Lord. Only as we thus put our trust in him, shall we walk in his commandments before our fellow-citizens; and carry into our various stations in society the quickening and purifying power of godly precept and example. On this will depend our support of those institutions and ordinances of his which shall weekly remind our inhabitants on every hill and vale, that there is a God who demands their homage, and who will, through Christ, accept their heart-felt offerings. All real strength for awakening a high and solemn sense of obligation in any community, for stemming the tide of corruption, or for saving those who are exposed to it; must lie, as a secondary source, in hearts devoted to God. For what shall it avail that the word of God is in our hands, if the flame

of devotion be extinguished from our hearts: and our citizens, as neighbors, as heads of families, as magistrates, neglect their high and sacred duties ; and breathe, from their stations of influence, the deadly contagion of vice?

If we look over this nation and mark, with an impartial eye, the varying state of its morals, we shall not want evidence to show how intimately dependent these are on the state of piety and religion. There are some happy and bright spots of moral verdure, and many dark and fearful ones of sterility and desolation, presenting themselves to us on such a survey: which, alike exemplify this truth, and stand forth to us the harbingers of peace or the beacons of danger, that call upon us, most loudly, to put our trust in God in this day of our prosperity, and secure to the generations that come after us a home and heritage of joy and not

But, 3. The religious gratitude and trust of this nation is the only means of securing an inviolable bond of union among our citizens.

Need I illustrate the necessity of firm union in this Federate Republic, in order to our true happiness? One in our origin, one in our language, one in our past perils and present prosperity ; it can never seem desirable to break our peaceful fellowship, and divide into different, jealous, jarring nations. At least, if the day should ever arrive in which a division would be expedient or necessary, it is desirable that these States should then separate from each other in peace

of woe.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »