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In how many kingdoms of the world, has the crusading sword of this misguided Saint-Errant spared neither age, or merit, or sex, or condition? -And, as he fought under the banners of a religion, which set him loose from justice and humanity, he showed none,-mercilessly trampled upon both, heard neither the cries of the unfortunate, nor pitied their distresses.
If the testimony of past centuries, in this matter, is not sufficient,—consider, at this instant, how the votaries of that religion are every day thinking to do service and honor to GOD, by actions which are a dishonor and scandal to themselves.
To be convinced of this, go with me, for a moment, into the prisons of the inquisition.-Behold Religion, with Mercy and Justice chained down under her feet,-there sitting ghastly upon a black tribunal, propped up with racks and instruments of torment. Iark-What a piteous groan !— See the melancholy wretch who uttered it, just brought forth to undergo the anguish of a mock trial, and endure the utmost pains that a studied system of religious cruelty has been able to invent. -Behold this helpless victim delivered up to his tormentors. His body so wasted with sorrow and long confinement, you will see every nerve and muscle as it suffers.-Observe the last movement of that horrid engine. What convulsions it has thrown him into !-Consider the nature of the posture in which he now lies stretched. - What exquisite torture he endures by it !It is all Nature can bear.-Good GOD! see how it keeps his weary soul hanging upon his trembling lips,willing to take its leave, but not suffered to depart. Behold the unhappy wretch led back to his cell-dragged out of it again to meet the flames -and the insults of his last agonies, which this principle-this principle, that there can be no religion without morality, has prepared for him. The surest way to try the merit of any disputVOL. III. Ꮓ
ed notion,-is, to trace down the consequences such a notion has produced, and compare them with the spirit of Christianity.-It is the short and decisive rule, which our SAVIOUR has left for these, and such like cases, and is worth a thousand arguments By their fruits, says he, ye shall know them.
Thus, religion, and morality, like fast friends and natural allies, can never be set at variance, without the mutual ruin and dishonor of them both ;-and whoever goes about this unfriendly office, is no well-wisher to either ;—and, whatever he pretends, he deceives his own heart,and, I fear, his morality as well as his religion will be vain.
I will add no farther to the length of this discourse, than by two or three short and independent rules, deducible from what has been said.
1st, Whenever a man talks loudly againt religion, always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions which have got the better of his creed.-Abad life and a good belief are disagreeable and troublesome neighbors; and where they sepa rate, depend upon it, it is for no other cause but quietness sake.
2dly, When a man thus represented, tells you, in any particular instance, that such a thing goes against his conscience,—always believe he means exactly the same thing as when he tells you such a thing goes against his stomach,—a present want of appetite being generally the true cause of both.
In a word;-trust that man in nothing,-who has not a good conscience in every thing.
And, in your own case remember this plain distinction, a mistake in which has ruined thousands,
That your conscience is not a law ;-no,-GOD and Reason made the law, and has placed consci ence within you to determine,-not like an Asiatic Cadi, according to the ebbs and flows of his own passions; but, like a British Judge in this land of liberty, who makes no new law, but faithfully declares that glorious law which he finds already written.
Temporal Advantages of Religion.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths
HERE are two opinions which the inconsiderate are apt to take upon trust. The first is, a vicious life is a life of liberty, pleasure, and happy advantages.- -The second is--and which is the converse of the first,-that a religious life is a servile and most uncomfortable state.
The first breach which the devil made upon human innocence, was by the help of the first of these suggestions, when he told Eve, that by eating of the tree of knowledge,she should be as GOD, that is, she should reap some high and strange felicity, from doing what was forbidden her.-But I need not repeat the success.-Eve learned the difference between good and evil by her transgression, which she knew not before;-but then she fatally learned at the same time, that the difference was only this,- that good is that which can only give the mind pleasure and comfort -and that evil is that which must necessarily be attended, sooner or later, with shame and sorrow. As the deceiver of mankind thus began his triumph over our race ;-so has he carried it on, ever since, by the very same argument of delu-that is by possessing mens minds early with great expectations of the present incomes of sin, making them dream of wonderous gratifications they are to feel, in following their appetites in a forbidden way,-making them fancy,that their own grapes yield not so delicious a taste as their neighbor's, and that they shall quench their thirst with more pleasure at his fountain, than at their own. This is the opinion which at first too
generally prevails,-till experience and proper seasons of reflection, make us all, at one time or other, confess-that our counsellor has been (as from the beginning) an impostor,—and that, instead of fulfilling these hopes of gain and sweetness in what is forbidden-that, on the contrary, every unlawful enjoyment leads only to bitterness and loss.
The second opinion, or, That a religious life is a servile and uncomfortable state, has proved a no less fatal and capital false principle in the conduct of inexperience thro' life,- -the foundation of which mistake arising chiefly from this previous wrong judgment,-that true happiness and freedom lies in a man's always following his own humor, that to live by moderate and prescribed rules, is to live without joy,-that not to prosecute our passions, is to be cowards, and to forego every thing for the tedious distance of a future life.
Was it true, that a virtuous man could have no pleasure, but what should arise from that remote prospect,- I own, we are by nature so goaded on by the desire of present happiness, that, was that the case, thousands would faint under the discouragement of so remote an expectation.
But, in the mean time, the scriptures give us a very different prospect of this matter. There we are told, that the service of GOD is true liberty,that the yoke of christianity is easy, in comparison of that yoke which must be brought upon us by any other system of living ;—and the text tells of wisdom-by which is meant religion, that it has pleasantness in its way, as well as glory in its end-that it will bring us peace and joy, such as the world cannot give.-So that, upon examining the truth of this assertion, we shall be set right in this error, by seeing that a religious man's happiness does not stand at so tedious a distancebut is so present, and, indeed, so inseparable from
him, as to be felt and tasted every hour; and of this, even the vicious can hardly be insensible, from what he may perceive to spring up in his mind, from any casual act of virtue. And tho' it is a pleasure that properly belongs to the good, -yet, let any one try the experiment, and he will see what is meant by that moral delight, arising from the conscience of well-doing. Let him but refresh the bowels of the needy,-let him comfort the broken hearted-or check an appetite
―or overcome a temptation-or receive an affront with temper and meekness,-and he shall find the tacit praise of what he has done, darting thro' his mind, accompanied with a sincere pleasure;-conscience playing the monitor even to the loose and most inconsiderate, in their most casual acts of well-doing, and is, like a voice whispering behind, and saying-This is the way of pleasantness-this is the path of peace-walk in it.
But, to do farther justice to the text, we must look beyond this inward recompence, which is always inseparable from virtue,-and take a view of the outward advantages, which are as inseparable from it, and which the apostle particularly refers to, when it is said, Godliness has the promise of this life, as well as that which is to come: -And in this argument it is, that religion appears in all its glory and strength--unanswerable in all its obligations ;-that besides the principal work which it does for us, in securing our future well-being in the other world, it is likewise the most effectual-means to promote our present,-and that not only morally, upon account of that reward which virtuous actions do entitle a man unto, from a just and wise Providence, but by a natural tendency in themselves, which the duties of religion have to procure us riches, health, reputation,
redit, and all those things wherein our temporal cappiness is thought to consist,-and this not on