instruction and improvement. Happy for this settlement that ample provision for such instruction is granted us, without its being burdensome to individuals. This fund it is hoped will be early called forth to so noble a purpose. A mode for the support of public worship so entirely separated from every thing that may rouse selfish principles, or what has been called rights of conscience in granting salaries to religious instructors, it is presumed, will ever preserve us free from that fruitful source of contentions and divisions which have prevailed in many parts of the United States. It gives us the prospect of greater union of sentiments, or at least of that candor and affection which the Gospel breathes, than has been enjoyed in this or any other country. Difference of sentiment, however, there doubtless will be; but it is the honor and ornament of a christian, who is made acquainted with the glorious doctrines of the Gospel, and has his mind enlarged with its sublime truths, to exercise candor towards those who may think differently from him. We ought to allow others the same right of private judgment which we assume to ourselves. There has been no particular scheme of religion, but what has been attended with its difficulties. present state is imperfect, and we all see through a glass darkly, and contentions about religion which exceed the limits of cool deliberate reasoning, very illy become a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus. It is far from imitating his example, who discovered great candor and charity towards his disciples while on earth, when their ideas of the Gospel plan were so very obscure as to suppose his kingdom was temporal, and that he was about to erect his throne on earth. There are doubtless persons already here, who may be of different sentiments and of different denominations. As the settlement advances they will enjoy the privilege to which they are clearly entitled, of forming societies of their own persuasion. But in the meantime permit me to entreat you as you regard your own interests, and the common interest of your fellow settlers, not to neglect the worship of the God of Heavena duty in which we all agree. Whatever you may hear which does not correspond with your own opinions you are not obliged to receive as truth; perhaps however it may not be amiss to give it a candid examination, if nothing more, it may extend your acquaintance with the principles and faith of others, and you will set an example that may have a most happy effect in our present state.

An early attention to the instruction of youth is of the greatest importance to a new settlement. It will lay the foundations for a well-regulated society. It is the only way to make subjects conform to the laws and regulations of it, from principles of reason and custom rather than from fear of

punishment. The great Lycurgus considered the education of youth as the most important object, when he was convinced that good morals, rather than laws and ordinances, must regulate the state. His grand principle was that children belonged to the state rather than to the parents. Those who are concerned in forming new settlements, and every parent that feels a proper regard for his children and the community of which he is a member, will do every thing in his power for promoting the private and public instruction of the children. Institutions for this purpose we hope to see established in this country as early as circumstances will admit, that the rising generation may be taught to remember their Creator, and walk in the paths of virtue and righteousness.

May we all attend to the duties enjoined upon us by our holy religion, in our respective stations in life. We ought to cultivate a reverence for the name and attributes of the great God; a sincere submission to his will in whatever way it is made known to us, and benevolence and affection toward our fellow men.

In our present circumstances we ought to consider ourselves as members of one family, united by the bonds of one common interest. We have the strongest reasons for the steady, uniform practice of every moral and every social duty, as our present happiness and prosperity most essentially depends upon it. Then may we hope for the smiles of Heaven, the blessing and protection of a kind Providence. Then shall we feel the approbation of our own consciences in the sight of God and man. Let us acknowledge God in all our ways, and then will he direct our paths for us.

When we have filled up VOL. II.-29

the short period of our earthly existence with duty and usefulness, may we all be received to those regions of bliss in the heavenly world, where sorrow will not be permitted to enter, but uninterrupted happiness reign forever and ever. Amen.


OCTOBER 27, 1814.


[The publication of the following discourse needs apology. After service, on the preceding Sabbath, the congregation were reminded that the next Thursday would close a century from the establislıment of the church and society, and it was proposed to notice the day by a religious exercise in the after

A discourse was prepared, merely for the purpose of bringing into view local concerns during that period, which would be interesting only to the people to whom it was delivered, and without thought of publication. Afterwards, very unexpectedly, an application was made, represented to be the unanimous desire of the people, that it might be printed. Under existing circumstances, a compliance could not be refused. It is therefore devoutly inscribed to the Church and RELIGIOUS SOCIETY in Hamilton, by their sincere and affectionate servant in the Gospel.

The Pastor.]

EPHESIANS, iii: 20, 21. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

With this ascription of glory to God the Apostle concludes a most devout and fervent prayer for the church. This epistle was probably written with a view to other churches besides the one at Ephesus, to whom it was addressed. Through the whole of it is a flow of holy affection to his Christian brethren and ardent solicitude for the establishment and prosperity of the church. Being a prisoner at Rome, he could not go, as formerly, to establish churches by his personal preaching and exertions ; but his affectionate desire for their prosperity was not abated. Whilst suffering imprisonment in defense of the Gentile churches, he encourages them to be steadfast in their Christian profession, with an assurance of his constant supplications for them at the throne of

grace. “I bow


knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named ; that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might, by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

These fervent petitions he closes with an expressive and emphatical ascription of glory to God: “ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us; unto him be glory in the church, by Jesus Christ, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." What enlarged and exalted expecta- . tions may this ascription of adoration and glory to God excite in our minds! What inducement to render praise and glory to him for what he has done for the church! and what encouragement to supplicate his blessing in future time! For he is able to do, not only all that he had been asked, but above all -exceedingly abundantly above all that could be asked, were we to enlarge our desires and multiply our petitions to the ut

To this God of power and grace unspeakable, the Apostle most earnestly desired that glory, adoration and praise should be continually rendered in the church, by Jesus Christ, throughout all the ages of time, ever to the end of the world; and closes this rapturous act of devotion by affixing his solemn Amen.

If we attend to the history of the Christian church, we shall find it replete with signal instances of divine power and goodness, for its protection and preservation. It is founded on a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In every age, under the government of Him who never ceases to watch over its interests, events are taking place which well deserve religious notice; and merciful interpositions to be recognized, which claim the highest ascriptions of praise and


glory to God. There are particular periods of time when it may be highly proper to take a retrospective view, and trace back the footsteps of Providence in years past. It may not only gratify an inquisitive and contemplative mind, but excite thankful acknowledgments of distinguished blessings, and lead to serious reflection and useful improvement.

Such, it appears to me, is the present time with regard to the Church and Religious Society in this town. It is, this day, an hundred years since this church was embodied, and a minister ordained to be the pastor.

That we may suitably notice and improve this period of time, it is my intention to make a few general observations with respect to the state of the Christian church within a century past; and then to call your attention, particularly, to a retrospective view of passing events and the state of this church and society, during the hundred years that terminate on this day. Within a century past the church of Christ has anot been assailed by open and bloody persecutions, as it had been in preceding ages. It has had, however, to contend with most inveterate enemies-enemies who, by secret artifices, by subtle machinations, and unwearied labors, have attempted to suppress the Christian religion, and banish from the world the Christian name. In no age of the church, since the promulgation of the Gospel, has infidelity made such secret progress, and, at length, raised its brazen front with so much boldness and expectation of success. The abettors of atheism, deism and infidelity had made such progress, that they reduced their schemes to system, and gained an alarming influence over the minds of men, especially in the higher ranks of life. Secret infidel societies, holding correspondence with each other, were formed; and to poison the minds, and induce people of all grades and conditions to reject the Bible, immense numbers of infidel books, pamphlets, small tracts, and even ballads and songs, were printed. These were industriously spread among all classes of people in many parts of Christendom. From among these infidels were the principal actors in the late French revolution—a scene highly favorable for propagating their principles.

The standard of infidelity, undisguised, was now triumph

« VorigeDoorgaan »