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ness. Religion cherishes and sanctifies every relative duty; it teaches moderation to the prince, and obedience to the people; it enjoins temperance and humanity to the rich, sobriety and resignation to the poor ; it arrests the arm of oppression, and calms the rage of faction. If there be any season when such a system should be more peculiarly supported, it is surely when the spirits of discontent and anarchy, the spirits of licentiousness and unbelief, hostile to the State and to the Church, seem, like the great Adversary of old, “walking to and fro upon the earth;" and not only ranging the mansions of the great, but descending into the cabin of the peasant, blasting all ranks with their malignant influence. To check the progress of an enemy, armed against our temporal, as well as our eternal welfare, every wise and virtuous man will cordially unite.
We have had, in modern times, a fearful example of a nation, who, in undermining the heterogeneous incumbrances of superstition, overthrew the solid fabric of their faith ; who, in the phrenzy of liberty, lost the gentler morals, which soften the temper and harmonize the passions; and, from a polite, loyal, and humane people, became
a fierce, turbulent, and sanguinary rabble. Let no one, then, imagine, that any thing but evil can result, from removing the wholesome restraints of Religion. Even the gross folly of enthusiasm, is not so much to be dreaded, as the desperate madness of impiety. For, to adopt the observation of an acute and excellent philosopher and divine, “ Amongst the awful lessons, which the crimes and miseries of France afford to mankind, this is one—that in order to be a persecutor, it is not necessary to be a bigot; that in rage and in cruelty, in mischief and destruction, fanaticism itself can be outdone by infidelity.”
ON PUBLIC TEACHING.
ROMANS, CHAP. X. VER. 14.
“ How then shall they call on Him, in whom they have not
believed? And how shall they believe in Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher ? And how shall they preach, except they be
If we can suppose (which I can hardly suppose) any people to be so totally void of all tradition from our first parents of the Being who made them, as to be without any notion of a God, they would, perhaps, be as soon led to the knowledge of His existence and attributes by the power of conscience, by the testimony of this internal monitor, as by the observation of the works of nature. “The invisible things of Him, even his eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen by the things that are made,” and His impartial justice and equity, His approbation of virtue and disapprobation of vice, are as clearly understood, and his moral character is as manifestly displayed, by what He has engraven on the human heart. To arrive at this knowledge, indeed, man must exercise his faculties; and so he must, when he contemplates the operations of nature ; and both, without any deep research, or subtleties of science, will lead him to the conviction of the being and providence, the justice and goodness, and all the moral perfections of God.
Still, however, he has much to learn : the great, the most interesting question is still to be resolved—how offenders, for such we confessedly are, how offenders can appear before this righteous Judge, who will not without indignation behold iniquity; and by what means, if any means there be, he may be moved to pity and forgiveness. Here, reason and nature are at a stand. Reason and nature may begin the work; they may reflect, and argue, and conjecture, and rise to some degree of hope ; but hope, vague and indefinite, will not satisfy the anxious inquirer. He must arrive at certainty. To calm his restless mind, to dispel his apprehensions, and inspire him with confidence, he must have positive assurance of safety; he must see the seal, that ratifies his pardon.
This nature cannot show. That a Being, whose unalterable attribute is justice, will remit the penalty due to transgression, and in what terms he will remit it, can only be learned from his own declaration. Now this declaration, we, who preach the Gospel, maintain that he has actually made by Jesus Christ.
In the verse immediately preceding the text, the apostle proclaims, that, “ whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” But how call upon Him, and by what name? An express revelation was not necessary to inform mankind that they are to pray; that they are to implore the invisible Being, on whom their fate depends here and hereafter. All nations have been sensible of this; all have had their religious rites; all have adopted some means, by which they hoped to propitiate the Deity: temples have been erected, and altars consecrated, and victims sacrificed; and they have invoked the Creator by the name of Jehovah, or Jupiter, or the Unknown God. But, till the coming of the Son of Mary, He was never worshipped, as He delights to be worshipped, “in spirit and in truth ;” He was never called upon by that name, under that peculiar character, which alone