« VorigeDoorgaan »
manifested on this great occasion. Looking back upon the wonderful things which God hath of late done for them, and forward upon the long tract of glory which is opening before them as a people; they could not but consider that, after all their illustrious toils for the civil happiness of their country, they had done but little for their posterity if the great concerns of Religion were neglected; knowing that righteousness only exalteth a nation, and that empires and kingdoms can rise and flourish upon no other foundation, than Religion and Virtue.
What now remains, lies with the body of our Church at large; namely to receive, with the like temper of liberality, gravity and seriousness, as in the sight of Almighty God, what is now offered to their acceptance and use by their Church representatives or deputies. One part of the service you have just heard, and have devoutly joined in it. Here the alterations are but few, and those, it is hoped such as tend to render it more solemn, beautiful and affecting! The chief alterations and amendments are proposed in the various offices, viz. of Baptism, &c. as hath been observed to you before, with the addition of some new services or offices; namely for the sth day of July, commemorative of the blessings of Civil and Religious Liberty; the first Thursday of November as a Thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth; and an office for the visitation of persons under the sentence of death; of all which you can only form a true judgment, when they shall be published and proposed to you in the new prayer book.
Brethren! I am not a stranger to you in this pula pit! But some years have elapsed since I have addressed you from hence; and a few years more will close my lips forever! This may possibly be my last Sermon to you; and, therefore, I would exhort you again to receive, and examine, with a meek, candid, teachable and charitable temper of mind, what is proposed to you on this solemn occasion; as a work intended wholly for the advancement of Religion and the maintenance of Peace and Unity in our Church to latest posterity. Let all prejudices and prepossessions be laid aside. Consider seriously what Christianity is! What the truths of the Gospel are ! And how much it is our duty to have them set forth and promulgated to the Christian world, and also the Heathen world around us, in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner! Let them never be obscured by dark and mysterious sentences and definitions ; nor refined away by cunningly devised fables, or the visionary glosses of men, thinking themselves wise above what is written. Were our blessed Saviour now upon earth, he would not narrow the terms of communion, by such ways as these; and it is our duty, as it hath been our great endeavour in all the alterations proposed, to make the consciences of those easy who believe in the true principles of Christianity in general, and who, could they be made easy in certain points no way essential to Christianity itself, would rather become worshippers as well as labourers, in that part of Christ's vineyard, in which we profess to worship and to labour, than in any other.
other. And what good man or Christian, either of the Clergy or Laity can object to this? If we are Christians, indeed; if the love of truth and of one another, the true signs of the peace of Christ, prevail in our hearts; there will be no disputing or gainsaying, in matters of this kind. In all things, fundamental and necessary to salvation, we “shall
speedily find a decision in the word of God;" and as to things speculative and unnecessary, “not find
ing them written there,” we will seek for their decision, by suffering them to glide smoothly down the stream of mutual forbearance, till at length they be discharged into the unbounded ocean of Christian love, and be there swallowed up and lost forever!
Let us not, therefore, repeat former errors; nor let the advantages now in our hands slip from us, If we become slack or indifferent in the concerns of Religion; if we discourage every endeavour for reformation*, “ not only departing from the Law but “ corrupting the covenant of Levi, so as to make
men stumble at the Law; the Lord our God hath “ said that he will make us base and contemptible
among the people, and all our flock shall be scat“ tered.” God will be provoked to remove his candle from us, that glorious light which he hath revealed to us; and we shall fall back again into the former grossness and superstition!
If, Brethren, in the present work any thing be offered or done, with less clearness, precision, purity, or elevation of thought and expression, let it be considered calmly, judged of by Christian methods, and proposed for future amendment with singleness of heart; imitating the meekness and love of our master Jesus! Thus shall we approve ourselves his disci. ples; and be justified in our endeavours for the purity of our Religion, not only in the sight of men and angels, but of Him especially, who will be our sovereign Judge, and sits enthroned above all the choirs of angels.
* Mal. Ch. II. ver. 8, 9. VOL. II.
Α 4 A
Thus also shall men be compelled to join in our worship, and our Sabbaths become more and more sanctified. Our very hearts and flesh will long for the courts of God's house--for the return of every Şabbath, as a blessed remainder, yet left us, of our original bliss in paradise, and a happy foretaste of our future bliss in the paradise that is abovea day of grace whereon our heavenly King lays open the courts of his palace, and invites us to a more immediate communion with himself!
To all who love and pray for the peace and happiness of society in this world, or for the everlasting happiness of men in the world to come, the growing neglect of the Sabbath, is a most painful consideration. From what source springs the greater part of all those crimes which bring so many to a shameful and untimely end, but from the neglect of God's worship; whereby men become hardened in iniquity, without giving themselves any opportunity of being awakened to the consideration of their everlasting interest. How many are there who, having no relish for heavenly things, seek for every amusement which sin and folly can suggest to fill up this day, and to kill the time, as they chuse to express it? But, gracious heaven! have we so much time to spare in this
life, and so little to do in what concerns the one thing needful, as not to consider that he, who kills time in this way, is murdering his own soul and giving constant stabs to his everlasting peace? Alas, brethren! a day will come, when a thousand worlds, and all the pleasures they can bestow, would be given, to bring back again the least portion of this murdered timefor every moment will then be considered as murdered and forever lost, which hath kept us back from our own reflections, and hath shut God, Religion, our own Souls, and Eternity-awful and mysterious Eternity-out of our thoughts and sight!
Wherefore, then, Brethren- let our Sabbaths be remembered, and more and more sanctified. The Scriptures encourage us to look for a time, when there shall be an universal diffusion of the Gospel throughout this land—when they who dwell in the wilderness shall come and bow down before the Lord; when, among the highways and hedges, to the remotest parts of this continent, decent places of wor. ship will be erected-villages, towns, and great cities arise-and the service and worship of our Church (as we have this day introduced it) be not only adopted, but, through the blessing of God, become happily instrumental in compelling the fulness of the Gentile world to come in!
O Time! may thy wheels move quickly round, until the approach of this blessed æra; till there be a fulness of spiritual food through every part of this new world; and all nations, kindreds and tongues have access with us unto One God, and be sealed with us unto the day of redemption, through the everlasting merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour! Amen.