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Christian Sabbath is so well adapted to cherish, have been diffused over that mass of moral putrefaction, would it not have restored the dead to life? The experiment has, since that time, to a considerable extent been actually made; and the event has justified the most sanguine hopes.--My hearers, I feel that I have exhausted your patience; yet must I, for a few moments longer, throw myself on your indulgence. And
1. Allow me to make an appeal to your interest. The facility of acquiring property in an honorable manner, and its value, when obtained, depend in no small degree, on the regard paid to the Sabbath. On such regard, we have seen, depends the influence of Christianity ; on the influence of Christianity depends the morals, whether in a community, a town, or family; and it will not be doubted, I presume, that temporal prosperity is nearly connected with those habits of industry, self-government, probity, and good faith, implied in a sound state of public morals. It will hardly be asserted, that indolence, gambling, impurity, and dissipation, are more conducive to wealth, than they are to the acquirement of a good reputation. Now, these vices, and a religious observance of the Lord's day, can never flourish in the same soil. The former are weeds, which become rank and luxuriant, only when the atmosphere is filled with pernicious exhalations and mortal contagion.
In societies where morals are deeply depraved, wealth, even if obtained, cannot be enjoyed. Friends are perfidious and selfish ; enemies irreconcilable and rancorous ; deadly feuds interrupt the intercourse of neighbors; and domestic peace is at the mercy of every licentious passion.
I appeal in the second place, to those feelings, which parents cherish for their children. Are you willing, that those, whose existence is identified with your own, should incur, both in this life, and that which is to come, those effects, which naturally result from habits easily formed of profaning the Sabbath ? If you are, complain not of that undutiful, disobedient and refractory spirit which is usually consequent to such habits.
you suffer them to despise religion, by neglecting that institution, which was designed to promote it, complain not, that your children are idle or false to their promises, or faithless to your interests. Having taught or allowed them to contemn the commands of God, are you surprised, that they disregard yours ? These children, from whom you remove, at so early an age, the restraints of religion, are advancing either to manhood or the grave. Are you willing, that they should perish forever, and yourselves be eternally responsible for their loss ?
Thirdly, I make a solemn appeal to your love of country.
By the mouth of the prophet Amos, God recounts to his people the various judgments, with which they had been visited, and then reminds them that none of these had effected their reformation : I have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places. I have sent among you the pestilence; and your young men have 1 slain with the sword. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the fire. Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
That our own national calamities are heavy and extensive, is a position too obvious to be called in question. These evils are felt every day, with increasing severity; and the man is scarcely to be found, who dares to turn his eyes full on the prospects of another year. A desire to escape these calamities, is doubtless universal. The question, how this can be done, is frequently proposed, and that too with very solemn interest. An infallible answer may be obtained from an inspired prophet : Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy. your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord. If the Christian Sabbath were duly observed, and the sanctuary of God revered, I ask, whether the obligations of virtue would not be more sensibly felt,—whether integrity and truth would not revive, and whether public confidence, now confessedly prostrate, would not be restored ?-1 ask, whether individuals would not, with more safety than they can at present, rely on the oaths,
promises and principles of each other ;—and whether such reviving confidence would not give incalculable strength to the nation? I ask, moreover, whether we could not, with more decency, and more hope of being beard, prefer our supplications to the great Lord of the universe ?
But, while our country exhibits so much the appearance of moral desolation ;-while the institutions of religion are treated contemptuously ;-while fraud, criminal evasions, and perjury, have become so common, as scarcely to shrink from the public eye, or to be condemned by the public opinion, surely in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, or from the multitude of mountains. With all our vices about us, it is not consistent with the nature of civil society, nor the constitution of the divine government, that we should as a nation, be either prosperous, secure or honorable. Counsels may
be added to counsels, and measures heaped on ineasures, intriguing politicians may double their activity and zeal; still while there is no moral reformation, though private passions may be gratified, the country will not be saved. It is something more permanent than the occasional rise of one party and depression of another, that fixes the destiny of a nation. It is that moral spirit, which is diffused through the whole mass. There will forever be a sympathy between the head and the members. Come therefore, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind
INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON THE CONDITION
Isaiah 54: 13, 14. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord ;
and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established. Thou shalt be far from
oppression; for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for thou shalt not be afraid.
This section of prophecy relates to the future condition of the church, and the accessions, which it should receive from the Gentiles. The two things foretold are these; namely, their obedience to the revealed will of God, and their consequent external prosperity: All thy children shall be taught of the Lord. The result of this will be, that they shall enjoy a well established government, political freedom, and lasting peace: Great shall be the peace of thy children ; or, as Bishop Lowth renders it, the prosperity of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established. Thou shalt be far from oppression.
My present object is, to consider what natural connexion there may
be between the character foretold and the blessings promised; or, in other words, the influence, which revealed religion is likely to have in meliorating the present condition of man. This, it is hoped, will not be unsuitable on the anniversary of a society, whose object is to diffuse the blessings of revelation, by imparting to the destitute that sacred volume, in which it is contained. Nor will it be thought inadmissible, that our attention should, on the present occasion, be chiefly directed to those effects, which the Scriptures have a tendency to produce on the present condition of man, as the niore important bearing, which they have on his future state, is so usually the subject of our pulpit exercises. It may be important, that those, who contribute either property, or efforts, to increase or extend the knowledge of these sacred writings, should perceive, not only, that they are increasing the means of salvation, but are granting the most effectual aid to the interests of order and virtue, of private and social happiness.
That we may rightly estimate the tendency of revealed religion to improve the condition of human society, it shall be considered briefly in regard to its facts, discoveries, and precepts.
Suppose a nation existing without any other light, than tha of their intellectual nature. Whether such a nation would believe in the existence of a supreme and divine power, I know not. That there are communities of human beings, who neither worship God, nor believe in his existence, seems to be a truth well supported. And although an eternal Deity may be discovered from the order, beauty, and design, which are apparent in the structure of the world, it is not certain, that the discovery has ever been made by any but those, whose intellectual vision has been aided by scattered rays from the luminous pages of inspiration. It may, with less hesitancy, be affirmed, that no nation, without such aid, has ever entertained any correct or consistent views on that momentous subject. This will create the less surprise, if we consider what gross, incoherent, and monstrous conceptions were entertained, as to the Sovereign of the universe, by some, whose superior talents and application led their contemporaries, and have induced all succeeding ages to denominate them the friends of wisdom.
A nation, therefore, destitute of light supernaturally communicated, would either have no ideas of God or those which were absurd, impious, or contradictory. Let it be supposed, that such a nation becomes universally acquainted with so much of the Scriptures, as teaches not only the existence of God, but his unity, his natural perfections, and his agency in creating the world. Let them at once be informed, so as to produce conviction, that this world which we inhabit is God's world;