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gard to any small services I have been able to render you, I am more than repaid in observing that I have, in some measure, been instrumental in supplying our poor back-settlers, with a minister of the blessed gospel; who, in this day of our visitation, will, to the best of his abilities, stem the tide of popular vice and folly, and disdain to appear cold to the cause of his God, his king, or his protestant country.
I know, however, that your appearing warm in these grand concerns, will even procure opposition to your ministry, as well as objections to all sermons of this kind. You will hear it said" That a minister
professing to be a disciple of the meek and blessed “ Jesus, should confine himself to subjects purely
spiritual and eternal. What have the clergy to do with civil and temporal concerns? And as to blowing the trumpet of war, and declaiming against popery, a subject so long ago exhausted, what purpose can it serve, but to kindle the flame of
perse“cution, and banish Christian charity from the habi<tations of men ?"
These objections will seem plausible to many, though they will not so much be levelled against any particular performance, as against every protestant minister in general, who shall have the noble resolution to discharge the important duties of his office, in the present emergency. I shall, therefore, endeavour to strip şuch objections of their false varnish, and shew that to admit them in their full force, tends clearly to involve the world in error and slavery.
It is indeed a melancholy consideration that such a task should be necessary at this day, even under the happy auspices of liberty and a reformed religion, But I know that, in the course of your duty here, you will find arguments still wanting to combat prejudices of this kind, and even to plead before very partial judges the cause of a protestant ministry. And it is our good fortune that such arguments may readily be produced, even upon principles of reason and good policy, if those of a higher nature should be refused. We
may grant that, in the infancy of time, when men lived in a dispersed state, it was possible that every one might be priest as well as king in his own family. Not being as yet collected into larger societies, men were not then engaged in that constant round of action, which hath since been the lot of their short-lived posterity. Their manners were more simple; the distinctions between right and wrong were less perplexed; and they had leisure to attend not only to the dictates of a heart less corrupt, but also to those positive injunctions, received occasionally from God himself, conversing face to face, or handed down from their first parents, in pure and faithful tradition.
But although in these times of simplicity, as they are described to us, we may suppose every man capable of discovering his own duty, and offering up the pure and spiritual worship of his own heart, yet such a worship was too refined, abstracted and solitary, to last always. Human affairs soon became more complicated. Societies were necessarily formed; and this sacred intercourse of individuals, with the Father of Love, soon began to decay. The avo
cations of life made many forget it; and many more were too much sunk in ignorance and indolence, to mark those displays of wisdom, power and goodness, which ought to raise it in the breast. Such persons could see the sun set and rise, and could turn their sight upon the spacious sky, without adoring the Maker's greatness, or extolling his wisdom. They could wander, with unconscious gaze in the midst of nature, neither listening to her voice, nor joining in her grand chorus to creative goodness.
Now it was easy to foresce, that this defection of individuals from their Almighty Parent, might not only spread itself into general corruption, but involve particular societies in temporal misery. It, therefore, became necessary to institute a social worship, by which all the members of a community might be assembled, in one solemn act, to give some public mark of that homage of heart, which was universally agreed to be due to the supreme head of the
From this time, then, a chief ruler, to administer law and superintend the public weal, was not a more salutary institution, than the separate institution of an order of men to preside in these solemn acts of devotion, and to form the minds of the people to the knowledge both of law and duty. For action follows opinion; and, in order to act right, we must first learn to think right.
Thus, the priesthood seems to rest on the same foundation with society itself, and takes its rise from the necessity of human affairs, which requires some institution for assisting the busy, rouzing the indo
lent, and informing all. Without this, every other institution for the good of mankind would be found imperfect; and there never was a society of any kind that did not find it necessary, under some name or another, to appoint certain persons, whose particular business it might be, to study and explain what was conceived to be the great interests of that society, especially to such of its members as had less opportunity or ability of informing themselves.
We see, then, that the office of such an order of men (call them priests, or by any other name) is important in its original, and noble in its design; being nothing less than the great design of making men wise and happy-wise in knowing and happy in doing what God requires of them.
But what is it that God requires us to know and to do as the means of happiness? Is it not to know and do homage to him as cur supreme good, and to know and do our duty in the several relations he hath appointed us to sustain?
Shall those, then, who are called to instruct mankind be told after this, that things belonging to civil happiness fall not within their sphere? Hath not God himself joined the table of social duties to that of religious ones? Hath he not, in his benevolent constitution of things, made temporal wisdom and happi. ness introductory to that which is eternal? And shall we perversely put asunder what God hath so kindly joined? Or is it not evidently our duty, as teachers, to explain to others their great interests, not only as they are creatures of God, but also as they are meme bers of a particular community?
The contrary doctrine would soon pave the way to entire wretchedness. For what nation hath ever preserved a true sense of virtue, when the sense of liberty was extinct? Or, in particular, could the pro, testant religion be maintained, if the spirit of protes. tant liberty were suffered to decay? Are they not so intimately connected, that to divide them would be to destroy both?
Indeed, languid and remiss as many of our profession are said to be, yet to them is greatly owing what sense of virtue and liberty is still left in this remote part of the globe. Had not they, or some of them at least, from time to time, boldly raised their voice, and warned and exhorted their fellow-citizens, mixing temporal with eternal concerns, most certainly popish error and popish slavery (perhaps heathen error and heathen slavery) had long ere now overwhelmed us! Where, then, would have been the blessings purchased by our reformation and glorious revolution? Or, where would have been that inestimable liberty of conscience, which, as the best things may be most readily abused,
« Now views with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
But further, in fayour of the point in question, I might here also bring the sanction of God himself, and plead the example of our blessed Lord and master, that great high-priest and best preacher of righteousness, who had a tear-yes, a heart-shed tear-for the civil distress incumbent over the very country that