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lieves him to have been born in time, who was and is from everlasting. He believes him to have been a weak child, and carried in arms, who is the Almighty; and him once to have died, who only has life and immortality IN HIMSELF.

Bacon's works, 4to. vol. 3, page 199. Mungrel Universalists!—This is a name which no Universalists have given themselves, and by which no other professed denomination of christians has ever called them, to our knowledge; but which a brother Universalist has bestowed on his brethren who hold to what is understood by the doctrine of the Restoration.

This sarcasm which is found in the New York Gospel Herald, Vol. 3. No. 34, page 266, Reeds no comment, as it speaks its own language. We only observe that children ought not to call each other by names, which are calculated to disgrace their parents.

To Correspondents.-T. B. from Barre is received, and will be noticed in our next.

Another correspondent will excuse, we trust, one delay more of some of his pieces, as the matter of the last form was made up in the absence of the Editor, so that they could not afterwards be taken in.


Died at Shoreham, Dec. 24th, Clarissa, only daughter of Hon. Charles Rich, aged 16 years and 3 months. She bore.a distressing sickness for a period of 8 months, without uttering a complaint, and employed her last breath in often repeating, “Farewell my friends, my Jesus calls me home.” She pined till there was but little left of what Clarissa once was, except her mind, which appeared not to be in the smallest degree inpaired, down to the last moment of her life. Mid. Stand.


No. 6.

APRIL, 1823.

Vol. III.

SERMON, NO. IX, James i. 27. Pure religion and undefiled before God

and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Religion is the grand theme, that teaches man what belongs to his safety, peace, and enjoyment,' and the duties which he owes to God and his neighbor. The theme is important, but how often is it perverted ! How many things in our world pass for religion ! Call together the various sects that are named Christian, from the mother Catholic Church, down to the youngest daughter of her progeny, and with these reckon the different sects of the Jewish, Heathen, and Mahometan religions, and we have the most confused mass of contradictory doctrines and requirements, that ever our world'afforded. Many of these can boast of thousands, who are zealously devoted to their peculiar religions. They endeavor to maintain them with an earnestness and promptitude, that would justly become a good cause.

From the consideration before us, we are ready, on most rational principles, to draw one conclusion with safety; and that is, but few of these religions can be wholly true, nor should we be surprised, if the truth could be known, that no one, as it is instructed by man, should be pronounced free of imperfection. We feel that we have no faith in the Jewish, Heathen, or Mahometan religions. The great question with us, is, what is the Christian religion? Our text is a full and explicit answer. A careful examination of it, then, will afford all that is necessary to this important question. Our text speaks not of religion in the loose land general sense of the term ; but of that which is pure and undefiled. Were we to ask a religionist of our day, what is pure religion? what should we receive for an answer? We conceive the answer would be dictated by the peculiarities of the distinguishing sect, to which he belongs, and with whom he associates. For the consideration of our readers, we will propose, on this subject, the following questions. Does pure religion consist in believing some theoretic system of dogmas, which some of our leaders in the church have espoused ? If so, who is our guide ? But if kot, speculative sentiments form no essential part of pure religion. A system of sentiments then can only be dangerous in proportion as it leads from those moral and practical virtues, which constitute pure religion, A Calvinist may suppose, that to believe God had elected some to everlasting life from all past eternity, and reprobated others to endless misery, forms an essential part of religion ; and, urging the necessity of his faith on this ground, he may act in conformity to his religious tenets; but it would show to an unbiassed mind that those tenets, if true, form no essential part of pure religion. This is easily seen by his condemning all those who do not believe his system, as reprobates. The same is true of all those peculiar sentiments, by which men judge and condemn their fellow men.

Pure religion naturally presupposes that there is more than one religion, and that those religions are not all pure ; otherwise the qualifying term would have been useless.

A pure religion, we have reason to believe, may be defiled by being embraced in theory and abused in practice. We cannot be too careful in noticing the terms pure and undefiled, which the apostle employs to qualify the word religion.

There is another qualification that ought not to be passed over in silence. Those things which are pure in the sight of men, men pronounce pure ; but the religion of which St. Jaines speaks, in the language of scripture, is pronounced to be pure and undefiled in the sight of God. God sees not as man sees, but sees things as they are. Man is frequently deceived; but with God there is no deception. Do we then wish to know what is pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, the great question is answered in our text. It is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. Alas, how many, we have reason to believe, in trying to get religion, seek for something, which has no relation to it, “If any man among you,” says James, "seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." When religion is supposed to be a certain supernatural something, which no one can communicate, and which has no particular relation to moral qualities, is it not evident that the supposition is altogether foreign from the explanation which is given in our text.. If religion be made to consist of some peculiar emotion of the mind, some dream, some vision, or some unusual oceurrence of divine providence, multitudes of sincere believers will mourà their exclusion from her peaceful protection, while the bigoted fanatic will boast that he possesses the prize.

What has done much towards veiling religion in darkness, is the line of distinction, which divines have endeavored to draw between mankind. Believing in the endless felicity of the righteous, and the endless misery of the wicked, they have concluded that there could be no medium between the one and the other ; and concluded justly, according to these premises. Therefore they say a man must either be a saint or a sinner. He is an heir, either of heaven or hell. If the wicked man be converted, his change must be in a moment; and whereas this minute he is wicked and an heir of hell, the next he may be righteous and an heir of heaven. It is easy to be seen this distinction is calculated to destroy the several gradations of moral virtue, by resolving all virtue and vice into that of the two aforenamed classes. Hence, no doubt, arose the doctrine of total depravity, and that the uncona verted person can do nothing acceptable in the sight of God. It is evident to a philosophic mind, that the gradations of moral virtue from the highest and most noble of our race, down to the lowest and most wicked, proceed by such minute, and, to human view, imperceptible degrees, that a line of distinction can no where be drawn, without leaving on the side of the wicked some almost as righteous, as those of the lowest degree on the side of the righteous.

That a man may meet with an instantaneous change of mind, and in a moment feel the tokens of peace, whereas gloom and darkness pervaded him before, is not to be disputed. But that such a change forms a criterion by which it shall be decided, who is religious and who is irreligious, we have reason to believe is a mistaken idea.

In our text we have two important ideas brought to view ; the one respects our conduct to our fellow creatures, the other rospects the care we should exercise over ourselves. One branch of pure and undefil. ed religion, is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. The orphan, whether bereft of father or mother, or both, is always an object that excites feelings of commiseration, in those who are acquainted with the miseries of mankind. Possessing no power to defend itself, no means to protect, or, if means, no experience or understanding to apply those means to its protection or sustenance, it falls helpless into the hands of those who cannot possess the real love of a father or mother. Upon such an one, whether he be merciful or unmerciful, does its future fortune greatly depend. Afflictions are so common to the fatherless and widows, that the idea seems almost inseparably connected with their names. In barbarous countries, we have reason to believe, their condition is much worse, than in the more humane and civilized. In all countries and ages they are a class as frequently innocent, and oftener defenceless than any other of the human family. The fatherless and widows in their afflictions, are emphatically a considerable portion of

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