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and increase the influence of religion. What can we ask for more? Why stand we here all the day idle? We see how glorious a success has attended our feeble and imperfect efforts. They have as yet been almost nothing, in comparison with the ability of the Christian church in this country. How few of us have even approached the point of selfdenial in effort! And surely it is only at this point that real benevolence begins. Let us ponder what is our solemn and unquestionable duty let us look at the wonderful blessing with which God has crowned our exertions; and I think we shall arrive at the conclusion, that with a corresponding degree of success upon such efforts, for the promotion of religion, as are palpably within our power, a revival of piety may be witnessed in every neighborhood throughout the land; the principles of the Gospel may be made to regulate the detail of individual and national intercourse; the high praises of God may be heard from every habitation; and, perhaps, before the youth of this generation be gathered to their fathers, there may burst forth upon these highly-favored States the light of the Millennial Glory. What is to prevent it? Let any man reflect upon the subject, and then answer. My brethren, I speak deliberately. I do not believe, that the option is put into our hands. It is for us, in reliance on the divine blessing, to say, whether the present religious movement shall be onward, until it terminate in the universal triumph of Messiah, or whether all shall go back again, and the generations to come after us suffer for ages the divine indignation for our neglect of the Gospel of the grace of God. The church has for two thousand years been praying "Thy kingdom come." Jesus Christ is saying unto us, "It shall come if you desire it."
Such, then, are some of the encouragements which the providence of God presents for attempting the universal promulgation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Motives equally strong may also be drawn from the fearful results which must ensue, if we prove unworthy of the high destiny which is now set before us. To these, however, time will only allow me very briefly to allude.
In no case does God array himself in more avenging majesty, than when he resents the misimprovement of unusual blessings, or the neglect of signal opportunities for usefulness. "Curse ye Meroz," saith the angel of the Lord, "curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof-because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." "And when Jesus was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day the things which belong to thy peace-but now they are hidden from thine eyes-for the days come in which thine enemies shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and shall not leave thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."
The spirit of these warnings applies with great emphasis to the church at the present day. With regard to society at large, it is evident that the changes which have commenced must either result in the universal diffusion of the principles of religious knowledge and civil liberty, or in the establishment of a more firmly riveted system of slavery than the world has yet beheld. The philosophy of Christianity is now generally well understood. Her points of contact with the human heart are
discovered. The secret of her great strength is revealed. Her enemies are rallying, and mean to regain the ground which they lost at the Reformation. Their resources are immense, and their wisdom has been gained in the most effectual of all schools, the school of reverses. Combining all their forces, and, with skill worthy of a better cause, adapting their weapons to the present state of society, they are preparing for one mighty, one universal onset. Christianity cannot safely remain in her present condition. Delay will be defeat. She must instantly seize the vantage ground, and march onwards, universally triumphant, or be driven again for ages to the dens and caves of the earth. Which shall she do? This question it is for the present generation to answer.
The period within which this question must be decided, may, in other countries, be prolonged; not so, however, in this country. Other governments may be kept stable amid political commotion, by balancing the interests and passions of one class of the community against those of another. With us, there is but one class-the people. Hence, our institutions can only be supported while the people are restrained by moral principle. We have provided no checks to the turbulence of passion: we have raised no barriers against the encroachments of a tyrannical majority. Hence, the very forms which we so much admire are at any moment liable to become an intolerable nuisance, the instruments of ultimate and remediless oppression. Now, I do not know that history furnishes us with reason to believe that man can be made the happy subject of moral government, in any other way than by the inculcation of principles such as are contained in the New Testament. You see, then, that the church of Christ is the only hope of our country.
I will not here ask, whether any thing has ever transpired within your recollection, in the history of our republic, at which a thoughtful man may tremble. I will not ask whether, when the most momentous questions are at stake, it be customary to address the passions or the reason and conscience of our fellow-citizens. I will neither ask, whether he would not be considered a novice, who was credulous enough to believe a mere politician honest, nor whether an utter disregard of truth be not avowed without a blush, as the principle on which are conducted many of the presses which politicians support. I will not ask, whether the most infamous want of principle has always obstructed the advancement of him, who has made his imposing voice heard amid the clamor of electioneering strife. Nor will I ask, whether there be not men deeply learned in the history of human affairs, who, overlooking the moral power that resides in the religion of Jesus Christ, have not already doubted whether such institutions as ours can long be perpetuated. I refer to these things, Christian brethren, to remind you how inevitable is the fatal result, if it be not arrested by the influences of Christianity. Good men should be aware of the fact, that even now not a moment is to be lost. When the statesman trembles, then it is time for the Christian to Unless prevented by the diffusion of religious principle, the wreck of our civil liberties is inevitable. But in the present state of society, civil and religious liberty must perish together. Then must ensue ages of darkness, more appalling than aught which this world in the gloomiest periods of her history has yet recorded. What form of misery will brood over this now happy land, I pretend not to foresee. I cannot tell
whether these solemn temples will become the resort of muttering monks, or of infidel bacchanalians. I know not, whether our children will worship a relic, and pray to a saint or deny the existence of God, and proclaim "death an eternal sleep." I should rather fear, that neither of these woes would fill up the measure of our cup of trembling; but that some strange ministration of wrath, more terrific than eye hath seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man conceived, was yet treasured up among the hidden things of the Almighty, to be visited in vengeance upon the iniquities of a people who so signally slighted the day of their merciful visitation.
Fathers and Brethren; you behold the result to which we have been led. It is for us to decide whether the moral light, which has just began to dawn, shall ascend to meridian glory, or whether for ages it shall be extinguished in darkness. It is for us to say, whether this nation shall first welcome the coming of Messiah, and rejoice in the earliest submission to his reign; or bear for ages the awful weight of divine indignation, for having, under such aggravated circumstances, rejected the offered mercy of God's well-beloved Son.
Men, Brethren, and Fathers; what shall we do? Shall the kingdom of Christ come, or shall it not come? But before you answer this question, it is proper to consider what the answer involves.
The kingdom of Christ will not come, unless an effort be made on the part of the church more intense and more universal than any we have yet seen. Little does it become me to speak in the language of a reformer. Yet you will, I trust, pardon me, if I, with diffidence, suggest some chang which must take place, before we can be prepared for the crisis before us.
In general, then, I would remark, that the providence of God calls loudly upon religious men, to be more deeply and thoroughly religious.
Too commonly now, the character of Christian is merged in the character of statesman, or lawyer, or physician, or merchant, or tradesman, or even of man or woman of fashion. I blush while I speak it, but it is too true; this age beholds fashionable disciples of a crucified Jesus. All this must, we think, be altered. If religion be any thing, it is every thing. If the Bible be not a fable, it is meet that every other distinction of a Christian be merged in that of piety. Our private history, the arrangements of our business, the discipline of our families, our intercourse with society, must show that we do really care very little about every thing else, if we can only promote the growth of vital piety in our own souls, and in the souls of others.
But to be somewhat more particular. New efforts are required of ministers of the Gospel. The times seem to demand that our lives be much more laborious than formerly. We must labor more abundantly in preparation for the pulpit; we must preach more, in season and out of season; we must visit our people more frequently, and more religiously; we must exhort more fervently: and thus make our moral influence more universally and more deeply felt upon all classes, but specially upon the young. If it be said, that clergymen are, generally, as laborious as their health will admit, we may grant it; but still, we would ask, might they not frequently obtain better health? Every one of us, surely, might understand and obey the laws of his animal economy.
would do this, we should less frequently complain of ill health. Besides, who of us, with the firmest health, has ever accomplished half the labor of Baxter, or Payson, who were invalids through life?
It will also be necessary that our efforts be more systematic. We act so much at random, that the labors of one day interfere with those of another, and thus much invaluable time is lost. Who, that has had the least experience in the ministry, does not see to how much better purpose he would have lived had he resolutely set about doing one thing at a time, and doing that thing thoroughly. Should every one of us survey the field which God has placed before him, and begin now to direct those influences, which, ten years hence, will be called into operation; and should we thus labor year after year upon the best plan that prayerful consideration will enable us to devise; would not our lives be spent to vastly better effect?
Again: The approaching crisis will demand a greater amount of intellectual vigor. The work will call for strong arms, and for very many of them. Ministers will find it necessary to devote themselves more resolutely to severe studies, to original thinking, and to every sort of discipline which may render the mind a more efficient instrument for swaying the opinions of men. Perhaps it will not be amiss to add, that the present state of society seems specially to demand of us a more profound knowledge of the evidences of revelation; of the various connexions which God has established between moral laws and the laws of the uni-, verse about us; and a deep and intimate acquaintance with the unadulterated oracles of divine truth, if possible, in the languages in which they were originally written.
But more than any thing else, do we need improvement in personal piety, in the experience of religion in our own souls. We must approach nearer to the luminary, if we would reflect more of its light. Nothing but ardent love to God, and unshaken trust in his promises, will animate us amid the labors to which the necessities of the church will call us. In the absence of these, we have no reason to expect that the influences of the Holy Spirit will attend our efforts, without which, they would be as unable to excite a holy volition, as to create a world. When ministers thus labor for Christ, thus love Him, and thus trust in Him-then may we hope to see the blessings of the day of Pentecost descend upon our churches.
But the principles which apply to a minister, apply also to every Christian man. I add, then, secondly, the necessities of the church require new efforts of laymen. The religious man, every where, and at all times, must show himself a devoted Christian.
It is necessary that Christians begin to use their property as stewards. The principles of the Gospel must be carried into the business of our every-day expenditure. We must sacrifice to Christ our love of pleasure, of ostentation, and of accumulation; or we must cease to pray, Thy kingdom come." I see men professing godliness, spending their property profusely, in obedience to all the calls of a world that knows not God; or else hoarding it up, with miserly avarice, to ruin the souls of the rising generation; but I confess, I do not see how they will answer for it "to the Judge of quick and dead."
The cause of Christ, also, requires of laymen a far greater amount of
personal exertion. Suppose ye, that in apostolic times, the claims of religion would have required of a disciple, nothing more than a small portion of his income? When the time was come for the church to be enlarged, they that were scattered abroad, went every where, preaching the word. Now we do not say, that you are required to be preachers; but we do say, that religion requires you to consider the promotion of piety in the hearts of men, as an object demanding your highest efforts. The management of the religious charities of the day belongs to you. It now comes principally upon the clergy. Its tendency is to render them secular. It makes them men of dexterity, rather than of deep thought and commanding eloquence. The cause would gain much by a division of labor. Brethren, you are called upon to come forward and relieve us from this service. But yet more-every man who knows the value of the soul, may speak of its value to his neighbor. Every man of ordinary abilities who feels the love of Christ, may give profitable religious instruction to youth and children. The promotion of piety, in the hearts of others, should enter as much into every man's daily arrangements, as the care for the body that perisheth. When this spirit shall have become universal, something will be done.
Do you say, that you have not the requisite information? I ask, does it require much information, to remind men that they are going to the judgment-seat of Christ? But I say again, why have you not the information? That intellect is by far the most valuable, as well as the most improvable possession, with which God has intrusted you-why have you not rendered it a better instrument to serve him? Every Christian, in such a country as this, may be, and ought to be, a well-informed man.
And, lastly; As intimated before, the cause of Christ requires of private Christians, as well as of clergymen, deeper humility, more fervent piety, and a life of closer communion with God. Your money and labors, as well as our studies and preaching, will be despised, unless they be the offering of holy hearts. All, all, are utterly ineffectual, unless the Spirit descend upon us from on high. Our alms will be as water spilt upon the ground, unless our souls are fired with the love of Christ, and our hearts temples for the residence of the Holy Ghost.
You see, then, what is required. I ask again, Christian brethren, are you ready for the effort? Shall the kingdom of Christ speedily come, or shall it not? You have seen the option which the providence of God has set before us. You have seen, so far as ourselves are concerned, on what that option is suspended. What will you do? I put the question to the understanding, and the conscience of every man. Do you not believe that by proper effort the liberties of this country may be securedand that, without it, there is every reason to fear they will be irrecoverably lost? Do you not believe, that, by such an effort, thousands of souls may be saved from eternal perdition—and that, without it, those souls will not be saved? Do you not believe, that, if such an effort were made, in entire dependence on the Spirit of God, this country would be subjected to Jesus Christ-that his kingdom would come, and his will be done throughout our land—and that if it be not made, there is every reason to fear that his kingdom will not come for ages? Do you not believe, that there is no time to be lost-but that every thing depends