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Jan. 27. Mr Thayer, ordained at Beverly. Sermon by Dr Thayer of Lancaster.
Feb. 3. Mr Whitwell, ordained at Walpole, N. H. Sermon by Mr Gannett of Boston.
Feb. 10. Mr Walcutt, ordained at Berlin. Sermon by Dr Lowell of Boston.
Feb. 17. Mr Goodwin, ordained at Concord, as colleague with Dr Ripley. Sermon by Dr Kendall of Plymouth.
Feb. 17. Mr Thompson, ordained at Natick. Sermon by Mr Young of Boston.
Feb. 17, 1829. Church at Dover, N. H. Sermon by Dr Parker of Portsmouth.
March 5. Church at Providence, R. I. Sermon by Mr Farley of Providence.
Church at Worcester. Sermon by
Church at Bangor, Me.
Sermon by Mr Huntoon, then of Canton, now of Bangor. Oct. 21. Church at Milton. Sermon by Dr Lowell of Boston.
Nov. 11. Church at Concord, N. H. Sermon by Mr Thomas of Concord.
Dec. 2. Church at Charlemont. Sermon by Mr Field of Charlemont.
Jan. 1, 1830. Church in Waltham. Sermon by Mr Whitman of Waltham.
RELIGION, ILLUSTRATED BY A COMPARISON OF IT WITH OTHER QUALITIES OF THE MIND, AND WITH OTHER OBJECTS OF PURSUIT.
yet to be learnt, that They are apt to con
rather than as a qual
THE title which I have prefixed to the following discussions, suggests to me a remark or two, by way of introduction. There are those who will understand me when I say that by many it is religion is a quality of the mind. sider it as a gift, and an influence, -ity, principle, and part of the soul. They consider it as something superinduced, bestowed upon human nature, rather than as the great and just result of that nature. They do not feel as if it were something dear to that nature, not forced upon its reluctant acceptance, not sustained in its rebellious bosom,-but cherished within it, craved by it, welcome and precious to all its strongest affections and noblest faculties. So the many,
I say, are not accustomed to regard it. They do not see it as the great development of the soul; but they see it as a communication. And seeing it as a communication-as coming, in some supernatural manner, from God, they are apt to set it apart from other qualities and pursuits. They do not deal freely with it, and reason freely about it. If they do not feel as if it were something above reason, they, at least feel as if it were something with which reason may not strongly and fearlessly grapple-as if it were too ethereal an essence for the plain dealing of common sense.
I confess that I know not whether to consider these ideas as more injurious, or false. Religion, in common with all other intelligible subjects, addresses itself to man's rational nature. It says, 'why do ye not judge what is right?' Here I should say, if I wished to make out my positions as from a text-here are presented both the subject, and the mode of investigation; the subject, religion; the mode of investigation, rational. But to judge of religion, to judge of religious truths, actions, forms, and exhibitions, is to weigh evidence concerning them, to compare them with other things, to use our sober sense and discrimination in this comparison; and in fine, to apply to religion the same great principles and tests, that we apply to other subjects. Religion does not demand any credulity, or any peculiar easiness of belief, or any submission of our understanding, inconsistent with the soundest philosophy; and it would be a great dishonor, and disservice to the christian cause so to represent it. Christianity does indeed
demand assent to its revealed facts, even though they be above reason; but that it does not demand, till it has satisfied our minds with its evidences. It offers to bear the test of sober reason :-it is able to bear it.
It is no proper objection to these views to say that religion is the work of God in the soul, and thence to infer that it is not to be judged of by principles common to it, with other subjects or qualities. All christians of a sound and reasonable mind, are now accustomed to admit, that God's work in the soul does not violate the laws of the soul; that the influence of the Infinite Spirit, whatever it be, is perfectly compatible with the moral constitution of the being influenced. But how is man influenced in religion? The answer is, by religious considerations, by reasons and motives, by fears and hopes, just as he is influenced in other things. All moral influence, whether derived from Scripture, from preaching, from reflection, or from conscience, is one great, and perfectly rational appeal to man's moral nature. And the result is to be judged of, accordingly. What religion is true,and what is true in the views presented of the received religion; what are proper and just exhibitions of it; what are the due and right means and methods of cultivating it; and what are its claims upon us-all these matters are to be considered, as we consider other obligations, truths, developments of character, and methods of improvement. It is no argument for unreasonableness, for impropriety of conduct or manners, for extravagance, fanaticism, or folly, that the subject is
religion, or that religion is the work of God in the soul. This, on the contrary, is the strongest of reasons for insisting that religion should be perfectly and profoundly sober, rational, and wise. That which comes from the fountain of reason, and as its gift to a rational nature will not, we may be sure, contradict the laws of that reason and that nature.
But although this is, and must be, admitted in theory, I apprehend, as I have already implied, that it is far from being carried out into the actual judgments and conduct of men; and it is for this reason that I shall endeavor in some following discussions to throw the lights of common sense and sound discretion on the paths of religion. Mistake, fanaticism, practical error in religious matters, have always rested their claims on the peculiar, unusual, supernatural character of the subject. Religious extravagance of every sort has always had its strong hold, within barriers. that have shut out the common judgment and sense of the world. And therefore, among all the instruments for carrying forward, and at the same time, deepening the prevailing impressions concerning our religion, I know of none more powerful than sober and judicious comparison. Let a man consider-and these shall be some of our topics-let him consider what evidence determines his conduct in the ordinary pursuits of life; let him consider how he interprets other books and records; let him inquire how other affectionsare nourished, and how they grow within him ; let him ask himself how he cultivates and how he exhibits