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his language, and from the abundance of an overflowing heart, exclaiming, I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify him with thanksgiving?
But while we contemplate the blessings secured to us by God our Saviour, we should not be unmindful of the privileges of a religious nature, by which we are distinguished in this present world. We have now no imperious, dogmatizing creed makers, availing themselves of their influence over the secular power, to enforce their opinions. We can now worship our God precisely according to the dictates of our own consciences. We can now, in our way to public worship, intersect the paths of our fellow men, without the smallest dread of censure, without encountering either the malignant glance or the supercilious sneer. We can now confess the ties of amity, although we do not worship in the same place, or entertain the same ideas of the object of our adoration. The philosopher of Verney, speaking of Pennsylvania, pronounced it the paradise of the globe; and rendering a reason for this decision, "There," said he, "every man thinks for himself, and he can publish his thoughts without terror. In that happy country, sects are so multiplied, and so various, that no one party can ever accumulate a number sufficiently large to trample upon the rest." Blessed be the God of our (salvation, this vast advantage is not at this period confined to the State of Pennsylvania, but this salutary indulgence is now the inestimable privilege of the United States at large; and we are right happy to observe, that certain characters having lost the power to oppress, have also in a very great degree lost the inclination.
How astonishing the change which hath taken place in this country, and how friendly to the interests of society is this change; and should we continue in the way of peace, how great may be our improvements. It is rational, from present appearances, to indulge a hope, that our ministers will be ministers of peace, that they will approve themselves workmen who need not be ashamed; that, as followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises, they will, from the abundance of their believing hearts, declare the ministry of reconciliation, assuring every creature, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses, and calling upon them, in the language of unfeigned affection,
thus beseeching them in Christ's stead, to be reconciled unto. God, assuring them, as a further inducement to their being thus reconciled, that God the Saviour, although he knew no sin fersonally, was made sin for them, that they may be made the righteousness of God in him.
May we not rationally cherish hope, that under the influence of the spirit of our meek and lowly Master, whom they profess to serve, they will not only preach peace by the blood of the cross, but that they will, both by precept and example, lead their adherents into the way of peace, which is the way everlasting? May we not indulge a hope, that under the constraining influence of the love of Christ, they will lead their hearers to love God, who first loved them, and, as the chosen of God, to love one another with pure hearts fervently? Thus will the religion of God our Saviour appear to be what it really is, worthy of all acceptation. May we not, without being too sanguine, entertain an expectation, that the era approaches, when, instead of the odious distinctions of orthodox, and heterodox, of democrat, and aristocrat, of federal and antifederal, we may, as the children of one Father, as members of the same community, consider it as much our interest as our duty, to do good, and thus approve ourselves the children of our Father, who is in heaven.
Under such benign auspices, may we go on our way rejoicing, saying, Not on this day only, but on every future day of our lives, I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
And that this may be our mutual felicity, may God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our LORD, to whom be glory, now, henceforth and forever, Amen and Amen.
EXTRACTS FROM PAPERS CONTAINING MINUTES OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE, WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.
This extract is taken from that period of the writer's life, when he was compelled, by the force of truth, to relinquish the traditionary religion, which had been given to him by education.
HAD heard much of Mr. Relly, he was a conscientious and zealous preacher in the city of London. He had, through many revolving years, continued faithful to the ministry committed to him, and he was the theme of every religious sect. He appeared as he was represented to me, highly erroneous, and my indignation against him was strong.
I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore against this man and his adherents. When a worshipping brother or sister belonging to the communion, which I considered as honoured by the approbation of Deity, was drawn from the paths of rectitude by this deceiver, the anguish of my spirit was indescribable, and I was ready to say, the secular arm ought to interpose to prevent the perdition of souls. I recollect one instance in particular, which pierced me to the soul.
A young lady of irreproachable life, remarkable for piety, and highly respected by the tabernacle, congregation and church, of which I was a devout member, had been ensnared. To my grea astonishment, she had been induced to hear, and having heard she had embraced the pernicious errors of this detestable babbler; she was become a believer, a firm and unwavering believer of universal redemption! Horrible! Most horrible! So
high an opinion was entertained of my talents, having myself been a teacher among the Methodists, and such was my standing in Mr. Whitfield's Church, that I was deemed adequate to reclaiming this wanderer, and I was strongly urged to the pursuit. The poor deluded young woman was abundantly worthy our most arduous efforts. He that converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. Thus I thought, thus I said, and, swelled with a high idea of my own importance, I went, accompanied by two or three of my christian brethren, to see, to converse with, and if need were, to admonish this simple, week, but as we heretofore believed meritorious female; fully persuaded, that I could easily convince her of her errors, I entertained no doubt respecting the result of my undertaking.
The young lady received us with much condescension and kindness, while, as I glanced my eye upon her fine countenance, beaming with intelligence, mingling pity and contempt grew in my bosom. After the first ceremonies, we sat for some time silent; at length I drew up a heavy sigh, and uttered a pathetic sentiment relative to the deplorable condition of those who live and die in unbelief, and I concluded a violent declamation, by pronouncing with great earnestness, he that believeth not shall be damned.
"And pray, Sir," said the young lady with great sweetness, "Pray Sir, what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?"
What is he damned for not believing? Why he is damned for not believing.
"But, my dear Sir, I asked what was that, which he did not believe, for which he was damned ?"
Why, for not believing in Jesus Christ to be sure.
"Do you mean to say, that unbelievers are damned for not believing there was such a person as Jesus Christ ?"
No, I do not; a man may believe there was such a person, and yet be damned.
"What then, Sir, must he believe, in order to avoid damnation ?"
Why, he must believe, that Jesus Christ is a complete Saviour.
"Well, suppose he were to be ieve, that Jesus Christ was the complete Saviour of others, would this belief save him?"
No, he must believe that Christ Jesus is his complete Saviour, every individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.
"Why, Sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbeliever ?” No, Madam.
"Why then should any unbeliever believe, that Christ Jesus is his Saviour, if he is not his Saviour."
I say he is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.
"Then if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, Sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers, and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth, and that by believing, they are saved in their own apprehension, saved from all those dreadful fears, which are consequent upon unbelief, upon a state of conscious condemnation."
No, Madam, you are dreadfully, I trust not fatally misled. Jesus never was, nor never will be the Saviour of any unbeliever.
"Do you think he is your Saviour, Sir?"
I hope he is.
"Were you always a believer, Sir?"
"Then you were once an unbeliever, that is, you once believed that Jesus Christ was not your Saviour. Now as you say, he never was nor never will be the Saviour of any unbeliever, as you were once an uebeliever, he never can be your Saviour."
He never was my Saviour till I believed.
"Did he never die for you till you believed, Sir?”
Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation. I sighed bitterly, expressed deep commiseration for those deluded souls, who had nothing but head knowledge; drew out my watch, discovered it was late, and recollecting an engagement, observed it was time to take leave.
I was extremely mortified, the young lady observed my confusion, but was too generous to pursue her triumph. I arose to depart, the company arose, she urged us to tarry, addressed each of us in the language of kindness, her countenance seemed to wear a resemblance of the heaven, which she contemplated, it was stamped by benignity, and when we bid her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes.