Abbildungen der Seite

made them, who carries them in od to his own existence, and to the his band, who surrounds them by existence of every other human his presence, and who constantly being. And while he views bimlooks on their hearts. The knowl. self and his fellow-creatures as edge and belief of this great, holy such transient and worthless beand glorious object, directly tends ings, his mind must sink into darkto awaken, strengthen and enlarge ness and despondence. But christtheir mental powers, and to habit- ianity opens to every human beuate their minds to the contem- ing, the boundless prospects of plation of other important and in- eternity, which must enlighten and teresting objects, which are con- enlarge the minds of those, who nected with the existence and


embrace it. fections of the supreme Being. Besides—the gospel not only re

The Bible also enlightens a peo- veals a future and eternal state, ple in the knowledge of them- but represents it as infinitely more selves, and gives them some just important than the present. The views of the nature, dignity, du- savages of America and other ration and importance of their own Pagan nations, entertain some glimexistence. It represents men as mering prospect of a future state, rational and immortal creatures, and have some faint hope, that who are formed to exist through they shall exist after death. But all the ages of time and the bound- their ideas of a future state are less ages of eternity. This great extremely gross and absurd. The and noble idea impressed upon the Indian expects to find the same minds of a people, must make objects in another world, with themselves and all other nations which he has been conversant in appear worthy of the deepest at- this life. He expects to eat and tention and respect; and they drink and hunt and sleep after must be convinced, that with the death, as he did before it. And 'existence and interests of such Virgil, one of the most refined and beings, they cannot safely trifle. elegant of the heathen poets, reThe immortality of the human presents the spirits of departed soul seems to level all distinctions heroes and law-givers, as pursuing among mankind, and to set the the same employments and amusechild, the servant, the subject and ments, which they pursued before the beggar upon an equality with they left the body. But christianthe richest and greatest of their ity gives us a view of the future fellow-creatures. How differently state of existence, which is vastly from this view must the atheist more interesting and important.and the Pagan consider himself, It represents death as putting a and the rest of mankind! He final period to all the pursuits and knows not but death will be an enjoyments of this present life and eternal sleep and put a final peri- transmitting the soul into a state


[ocr errors]

of eternal and unutterable happi conscience to do it. The Pagang

or misery. Every person the Papist and the Mahometan who believes the Bible, believes feel themselves bound in conscithat he and all his fellow-creatures ence to believe and observe the are probationers for a happy or absurdities and superstitions of miserable eternity; and he ex- their religions. Though every pects soon to see himself and eve- false scheme of religion has some ry other human being in a state influence over the conscience ;infinitely different from the pres- yet christianity has the most hapent, in which they will be render- py and controling influence over ed completely happy, or complete the moral taculty. A false religly wretched forever, by the smiles ion tends to stupify and stifle the or the frowns of their great and voice of conscience ; but the reholy Creator. Such great and ligion of the Bible always serves awful, such glorious and amiable to enlighten and strengthen it to objects the Bible exhibits before do its office. The Bible exhibits the minds of every people, who all created and uncreated objects embrace it. And the belief and in their proper and various reimpression of such interesting and lations. And these relations lay affecting objects cannot fail to en the foundation of moral obligation. lighten and enlarge their under. We are bound to love and obey standings, and to have a powerful God, because of the relation, and happy influence upon their which he bears to us and which sentiments, character, conduct and we bear to him. The general obstate.

ligation of mankind to love one 2. The Bible has a powerful another arises from the general tendency to impress the conscien- relation, which they bear to each ces, as well as to enlighten the other. And the particular obligaunderstandings of those, who be- tions, which subsist between the lieve its divine inspiration and various classes of men, arise from authority. No man can embrace their particular relations. The any religion contrary to the dic- more clearly, therefore, these retates of his conscience, because lations and connections are exhibreligion always implies duty ; and ited before the mind, the more nothing can appear to be duty, easily, sensibly and forcibly does which the conscience perceives to the conscience feel the obligations, be wrong. Though mankind do wbich are founded upon them.-embrace false and absurd religions, And since the christian religion yet they never do it, until they more fully unfolds those relations have blinded and stupified their and connections, upon which its consciences. Those, who em- doctrines and duties are founded brace the most false notions of than any other religion ; so it has religion, feel themselves bound in a more commanding influence over

[ocr errors]

the consciences of those, who em- Mount Sinai, they unanimously brace it. In preaching the gos- acknowledged his authority and pel the apostle carried conviction said, “ All that the Lord our God to the conscience of every one, hath said, we will do and be obewho heard him. He says, “ There- dient.” So all, who believe the fore, seeing we have this ministry, christian religion, feel bound in as we have obtained mercy, we conscience by the authority of faint pot; but have renounced the its divine author to obey it.hidden things of dishonesty, not Though their hearts relent, yet walking in craftiness, nor handling their consciences yield to the authe word of God deceitfully, but thority of God. Hence, christianby manifestation of the truth com- ity has a more sovereign control mending ourselves to every man's over the consciences of men than conscience in the sight of God.”— any other religion. It constrains The gospel draws such a charac- every people, who acknowledge ter of God and of Christ and of its divine origin, to view all moral mankind and gives such a clear objects as they are viewed by God, representation of the invisible and and to approve in their consciences eternal world, that all its doctrines what he approves and to condemn and duties appear to be true and what he condemns. It transforms to be founded in the very nature their moral sentiments into a reof things. And for this reason semblance of the moral sentiments every one, who believes the gos- of God, whom they profess to pel, must feel himself bound, or worship. morally obliged to be and do wbat 3. Christianity tends to produce ever it requires. Christianity en- the most happy effects in the lightens, arrests and binds the con- hearts of a people, who embrace science. It is clothed with divine it. False religions have always authority and commands obedience deeply affected the hearts, as well to the sovereign of the universe. as the understandings and conFalse religions are the traditions sciences of men. The worship of and commandments of men. But false Gods has always inspired the true religion claims a divine their totaries with the spirit of origin and speaks with supreme their imaginary deities. The worauthority. And the conscience of shippers of Moloch were cruel.-every man in the world tells him, The worshippers of Mars were that he ought to obey the voice of given to war and carnage. The his creator.

When God command- worshippers of Bacchus were gived Abraham to sacrifice his son, en to interperance. And the he felt the authority of his mak- worshippers of every false god er and instantly submitted to his among the heathen, have always dread command. When God spake meant to imbibe the spirit of the to three millions of people from being or beings, to whom they

paid divine homage. Though presented to the heart and confalse religions do not require the science of rational and immortal heart, but consist in external ob- creatures. The promises to the servances and ceremonies; yet holy and virtuous carry all the they have a powerful influence light and glory and blessedness of upon the affections. But there heaven; and the threatenings deis no religion, which forms and nounce against all ungodliness and moulds and governs the heart so unrighteousness, the darkness and powerfully as the religion of the misery of hell. The motives of Bible. The great object of wor the gospel are clothed with the ship, which the Bible exhibits, is authority of God, and enforced by a being of perfect rectitude and in- the whole weight of eternity.finite benevolence. It says, “ God They who believe and love the is love;" and that he is good to gospel, feel the mighty influence of all, and his tender mercies are its motives, to mould and form their over all his works.” The first views and feelings into a conforand great command of its divine mity to the views and feelings of author is, « Thou shalt love the the Father of mercies. Such was Lord thy God with all thy heart;" the effect upon the character and and the second is, 6 Thou shalt conduct of the ancient saints. love thy neighbour as thyself.”— And such was the effect upon the The Bible requires all men “ to primitive believers of christianity. be perfect, even as their Father, Wherever they went, they were who is in heaven, is perfect.” It admired for their mutual affection requires all men to worship the and their universal benevolence. true God, who is a spirit, in spirit, The heathen exclaimed, “How and in truth; and to be holy, be- these christians love one anothcause he is holy. Every precept er!" And notwithstanding primiof christianity is addressed to the tive christianity has been greatly heart, and requires pure, holy corrupted; yet it has had a translove, as the only obedience to the forming influence upon every nawill of God. The gospel requires tion and people, who have called a spirit of universal benevolence, themselves christians. It has loostenderness and kindness; and for- ened the cords of slavery; it has bids all selfishness, cruelty, malice lightened the hands of tyrants ; it and revenge. And it requires all has softened the hearts of persemen to feel and express such be- cutors; it has subdued the cruelty nevolence, not only by precepts of savages; it has mitigated the and prohibitions, but also by pro. borrors of war ; and it has diffused mises and threatenings. These a spirit of humanity and philanpromises and threatenings exhibit thropy through all the nations of the most alluring and alarming christendom. So far as any namotives to obedience, that can be tion has embraced christianity,

as we


they have imbibed the benevolent, is predicted, shall exist on the merciful and tender spirit of its earth, during the future and gendivine author. It is a well known eral prevalence of the gospel.fact, that the religion of the Bible It must form good rulers and good has a powerful tendency to pro- subjects, good parents and good mote the highest bappiness of any children, good masters and good people, that embrace it. This servants, and fit all persons for sabject suggests the following re- usefulness and happiness, in every marks.

station and relation of life. Our 1. Since the religion of the Bi- religious privileges in this country ble bas such a happy influence up are the source of our temporal on the understandings, consciences prosperity and happiness. So far and hearts of men, it must tend to

a wise, pious, hupromote their temporal as well as mane, free and happy people, it their eternal bappiness. Accord- must be ascribed to the rich blesingly it it written, “Godliness is sing of the oracles of God, which profitable unto all things, having have been committed to our hands, the promise of the life, that now Whatever is pious, virtuous, amiais, and of that which is to come.” ble and desirable among us, is owIt is divinely promised, that when ing to the influence of the Bible, the Bible shall be received by all which is conducive and necessary nations, they shall be united in to the temporal as well as the peace, drop their swords, and turn spiritual and eternal happiness of their

weapons of war into instru- human beings. ments of industry and utility. It 2. We ought to be more thapkis predicted, that the spread of the ful for the oracles of God than for gospel shall pour a flood of light any other favor he has bestowed upon this dark world, so that the upon us. God has, indeed, ever light of the moon shall be as the since we have existed as a people, light of the sun, and the light of highly favored us with more merthe sun, as the light of seven days. cies, than can be numbered, both It is foretold, that the universal public and private, both civil and influence of the gospel shall trans- religious. But we ought to conform mankind into cordial friends, sider the Bible the primary source so that there shall be none' to 'burt of all our privileges and enjoyor destroy in all the earth. And ments. It has laid the foundation if the true religion does enlighten of our civil institutious and prosthe understandings, awaken the perity.

It has consecrated our consciences, and transform the literary establishments. It has hearts of men into the image of erected and preserved our houses the kind parent of the universe, of divine worship. It has given it must produce all the temporal us the solemnities and consolations and spiritual happiness, which, it of the sabbath. It has spread light,

« ZurückWeiter »