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Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

tions of the Christian religion, you leave no efficient motive to the obligation of Christian morality; you deprive the laws of every protection, but physical force, and the influence of secular advantages, which will depend on the number, courage, ånd dexterity of those, who in the various pursuits of discordant interests may be disposed to obey and maintain the law.

If, then, through our holy religion thus openly assailed, our mild and equitable laws, our civil liberties, our public and private rights, be endangered; if every thing dear and valuable in the possession of this life, or in the hope of the next, be thus put to hazard; if we see the daring efforts, of blasphemy, disaffection, and sedition, and the lamented success of their preachers, in drawing the unwary multitude from their fidelity to God, from their allegiance to the government, from all regard to the purer moral duties;-if such be the beginning of troubles; it is impossible for any man to foresee their issue, or to have any calm assurance that his faith in Christ, his zeal for religion, and moral virtue, may not be put to the bitterest trials? If infidelity,

blasphemy,

H 2

Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

blasphemy, vice, and disaffection proceed in their career, the time may not be far distant, when the altars of true religion may be defiled, the temples laid in ruins, the preachers dispersed and persecuted; and the faithful Christian, to secure the happiness of the next world, may be compelled to forego pot merely the elegancies and honours, but the possessions and comforts, of the present. These seeming ly impending dangers put our faith to immediate trial, calling it into action, to preserve the invaluable blessings derived, without our exertions, from our forefathers; and as the first necessary step in the discharge of this duty, it behoves us to consider gravely the foundation on which the inheritance rests, and on which its security must depend.

The foundation, on which rest the blessings of our religion and laws, is the now reviled, insulted, and defamed Gospel of Christ. In this they were planted, in this they have grown and flourished together, and in this if we do not þold them, they will be no longer

ours.

Without the knowledge and worship of the

true

Religions Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

true God, the love of his truth and goodness, the fear of his threatenings, and the hope in his promises, there can be no uniform virtue. If there be no sure expectation of another life, every wish and every thought will be occupied with the present; every purpose will be framed, and every action directed, to the attainment of temporal enjoyments: life itself, will constantly be put in peril for the command of its gratifications and pleasures, or the avoidance of its privations and miseries. Hence, in that society, where religion has no hold upon

the heart, there will ever be the incentives and deeds of insubordination, treachery, and rebellion, of injustice and oppression : faction and violence will continually break forth, in which the weak and the peaceable will be trampled upon by the strong and the turbulent: the tyrant or the magistrate of one day, may be the prisoner or convict of the next; and the cords of the executioner will succeed the robes of authority.

It is true, the sword of the law directed by the wealthy and powerful, for their own benefit and security, may compel the vulgar to obeH 3

dience,

Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

dience, and keep them in a slavish subjection. But the utmost power of the best laws can only fetter the hands, by the punishment of actual crime. It cannot confine the evil thoughts, nor prevent the secret purpose of wickedness, nor reforin the malignant heart. Its terrors may awe the timid to subjection. The wise and considerate may respect it, as the conservator of peace, and the protector of their property. From necessity, the weak and infirm may obey it. But the bold, the adventurous, the crafty, and the licentious, will continually brave its penalties, in grasping at the honours, privileges, or enjoyments, to which they imagine they have as fair a claim as those, who possess them, or which, they think, should be held by no title, but that of power.

Prophane antiquity well knew the efficacy of the belief in a future state of rewards and punishments. The torments of Tartarus, in some particulars, resemble those denounced by the true religion. And, although the Gods which the heathen nations worshipped, were monsters polluted with every human crime ;

yet

Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

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yet the punishments, which their religion threatened to the wicked after death, were necessary to controul the selfish and malignant mind, for the peace and prosperity of civil society. This was acknowledged by some of their gravest legislators, and most distinguished patriots.

The sages, then, of ancient heathenism not knowing or rejecting Divine Revelation, found the aid of a false religion necessary to the existence of civil society. All their science and, worldly wisdom were incompetent to? preserve among men even a loose morality; unless they enforced the precepts of the philosopher, and the authority of the civil magistrate, with the terrors of an abominable superstition.

And is it our opinion that any thing, but true and undefiled religion can bind men together in social order, with the golden cords of reciprocal kindness and good-will? No, my brethren-Be assured, nothing, but genuine Christianity can give equity and clemency to the law; authority and integrity to the magistrate, allegiance and willing subjection to

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