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not existed. But, when men of the first talents and erudition had filled Europe with their immoral, deistick, and atheistick productions; when a conspiracy against all religion was in extensive operation; whose watchword was, “ crush the wretch," meaning Christ, and standing motto, " strike, but conceal the hand;" when, by order of the Convention of a nation, with which we were in close alliance, the following, with other blasphemous sentiments, were printed and circulated; 66 Man, when free, wants no other divinity than himself; reason dethrones both the kings of the earth, and the king of heaven; no monarchy above, if we wish to preserve our republick below;" when, (such was the ascendency acquired by the conspirators over a great nation,) twenty-four thousand Christian priests, many of them protestants, had been sacrificed to their malice; when the many hundred secret societies, formed for the express purpose of abolishing Christianity, had extended their baneful influence, not only through Europe, but into America; when it was a well known fact, that many thousands of deistical treatises were in rapid circulation among us; and, when it was likewise a solemn fact, that the writings of Mirabeau, Boulanger, and other atheists of the boldest front, were not only imported into this country, but, I blush to say it, translated into English by native Americans, and by publick advertisements exposed to sale and free circulation among us; could facts, like these, be realized by Christians without alarm? especially, when the effects of these systematick efforts, open and secret, had · become visible in the change produced in the morals and religion of many of our citizens? What was to be done? An antidote was necessary to counteract this moral poison. By books of almost every description had this poison, variously prepared, been circulated through the community. Books therefore appeared the proper vehicle for conveying the only remedy, the truth, as it is in Jesus. But to such a labour, however delightful, no individual was competent. Hence the necessity; hence the origin of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Hence also the first object of this Society is “a charitable distribution of the best religious books and tracts; as Bibles, Testaments, and Psalters, and such books of human composition, as are calculated to establish the truth, and to preserve the essential doctrines of the Gospel, as professed by our pious ancestors.”
Hence it is obvious, that the great object of this Society is not the propagation of Christianity among idolaters, but the preservation and promotion of it among professed Christians; not so much in distant places, as among ourselves. Not however that, in prosecution of this design, the Society is confined to the distribution of books. The Constitution provides that, when ability shall permit and circumstances require it, charity schools and pious missionaries shall be supported in new towns and plantations, “ for the express purpose of instructing and establishing the young and ignorant in the truth of the Gospel, and in the great doctrines and duties of our holy religion,"
This statement, my brethren, of the origin and object of our Society, is now made, not merely for the satisfaction of others, but to excite within our own breasts renewed ardour in the prosecu. tion of our enterprise. « In the fear of God and love of man we have solemnly associated ourselves for the benevolent purpose of promoting evangelical truth and piety.” We are styled a Society for promoting Christian knowledge. This, as we have seen, was Paul's object and employment. By him are we taught, what the Gospel is, and what are its most essential and powerful doctrines. With him let us a determine to make known nothing, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Can we propose to ourselves a better model? If not, then let us imbibe his zeal, and shape our exertions from his example. Though he was pre-eminently the apostle of the Gentiles, “ his heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel was, that they might be saved. For his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, he had great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart.” To them also, like his Divine Master, he first addressed the Gospel. In imitation of such divine patriotism, let us exert every nerve, that our own countrymen may embrace the truth, and be sayed by the crucified Jesus. They are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. While, therefore, we rejoice, that the glad tidings of salvation are wafted to nations, perishing for lack of vision, let us not forget that millions, nearer home, are in danger of perishing in the midst of vision; and of receiving a doom, com, pared with which that of the Heathen would seem light. Let this solemn thought awaken all our sensibilities, and rouse us to redoubled action.
My beloved brethren, will ye permit a word of exhortation? While, then, we are professedly engaged in promoting the truth, let us also exhibit the spirit of Jesus. The cause of Christ can never be advanced by any thing, that savours of persecution, severity, or unkindness. Let our brethren, whom we may think in errour, share our candour, love, and prayers. If there is in man a native aversion to the humbling truths of the Gospel, let us not by a proud or censorious spirit increase that aversion. To be received in love, the truth must be communicated in love. Man may be attracted, but cannot be provoked, to embrace the Gospel. If then we wish others to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; let us “ put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and long-suffering." Let it be apparent from our temper and conduct, that our religion was learnt in the school of the meek and lowly Jesus. This dovelike spirit will do much to disarm prejudice and silence opposition.-While we cheerfully unite our endeavours to those of others for sending the Gospel to the ends of the earth; be ours the additional happiness of inducing many in our own land to cease from those instructions, which cause to err from the words of knowledge;" remembering, for our encouragement, that “ he, who converteth a sinner from the errour of his way, shall save a soul from death.” But let us also remember that no exertions for others, not even the VOL. I.No. JI.
most successful, can save our own souls. Let it therefore be our first, our constant concern, while labouring to make Christ known to others, to know him ourselves; to know him crucified; to experience, with increasing gratitude and delight, that he is in us, in our view and in each of our hearts, “ the wisdom of God and the power of God.” Nothing will so well qualify us for our work; pothing so sweetly and powerfully excite us to spread abroad the savour of his name.
My Christian hearers, while we rejoice with you, that so much has been done by Bible and Missionary Societies for propagating the Gospel among Pagan nations, you will not, after what has been said, censure our concern for the promotion of it among ourselves. It is the glory of the present age, that, notwithstanding the ravages of infidelity and ambition, more extensive and successful exertions perhaps have been made for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom within the last fifteen years, than in so many preceding centuries. May this truly apostolick spirit be increased, and with it the means of supporting pious missionaries! May the day be accelerated, when the Bible shall be read, when Christ crucified shall be proclaimed, and Jehovah adored, in every language and by every nation under Heaven! But, while we pray for the dark places of the earth, which are full of the habitations of cruelty; let us not forget, that regions long since enlightened by the Sun of righteousness, are overspread with much errour, sin, and guilt. As Christians, we pity the stupidity of the benighted Hindoo, bowing down to his idol of wood. We lament the immolation of female victims on the funeral pile. We are shocked at the impurities and bloody rites, by which he seeks the favour of his deity. But he does this ignorantly. It is the religion of his fathers, of his country. He never abused the light of revelation; he never denied the Son of God; never trod under foot the blood of the covenant. The times and the sins of such ignorance, we have reason to hope, God winketh at. But to those, who sin wil. fully, after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no sacrifice for sins. Of the Jews Christ once said, 6. If I had not come, and spoken to them, they had not had sin." What reason then have we to tremble for those in this land of meridian light, who either neglect, pervert, or oppose his Gospel! What will be the fierceness of that indignation, which shall devour his adversaries! O ye compassionate friends of our race, whose feelings are wounded by the polluted rites and cruel superstitions of idol worship, have pity upon those, who, though they know God, yet worship him not, as God; upon the many thousands among ourselves, who refuse to be washed from their sins in the Saviour's blood. Are your souls tortured by the recital of a rational being voluntarily crushed by the car of the modern Moloch? Remember that there is one sight more distressing; it is that of a Gospel sinner falling into the hands of the living God. From this catastrophe may the good Lord deliver us, and may he open our hearts to contribute for the deliverance of others!
FOR THE THEOLOGICAL MAGAZINE.
! OF OUR OBLIGATIONS TO GOD, AS FOUNDED IN REASON.
At the bare mention of the word God, when accompanied with suitable reverence, all our faculties are awakened and lost in as tonishment which no language can express; the mind makes an effort to conceive of that incomprehensible intelligence, of that substance which has neither body, nor colour, and to mount up to that Power, which is absolutely inaccessible. God!! What wonders, what perfections, what grandeur are comprised in this word! The ocean, compared to him, is but a drop of water; the whole earth, but a grain of sand; the sun is but a spark, and all mankind as if they were not. He wills, and a creation springs forth from ‘nothing; he speaks, and it sinks into dust; his residence is in the deep abyss, as well as in the highest Heavens; and while he is nothing that we behold, he actuates all things by his presence. The rocks hear his voice, and the winds are his ministers; all the elements acknowledge him, and death itself submits to his control. Without any origin to himself, he is the source of all being; though immovable, he shakes the foundations of the earth; though immutable, he changes the face of the universe. It is he who fashions the bones and muscles of the unborn infant, and will again reanimate them, after they shall have mouldered for ages in the tomb. Sovereign Dispenser of health and sickness, he afflicts and heals at his pleasure; by the rupture of a fibre, he overthrows the most vigorous constitution, and arrests in a moment, the calcula. tions of ambition. From the minutest insect to the massy elephant, all animated nature proclaims his power, and overy pulsation of every heart pays grateful homage to his wisdom and goodnesse But what, alas! are all these efforts of human language: what but the dazzling pomp of barren phraseology, unless God himself deign to enlighten our souls, and stoop to the weakness of our imperfect conceptions. Alas! without this merciful condescension, We only lavish our incense upon fading flowers, upon the heaveny luminaries subject to gradual extinction; upon animals destitute of sentiment and consciousness. In a word, we go forth from ourselves in search of that God who dwells within us, and is the real principle of our life and existence.
Such is the stupidity of the atheist, such the folly of the libertine; swayed by the delusions of a perverted judgment and corcupt heart, they disavow the Divinity that stirs within them; they forget, when writing, or speaking to his dishonour, that he gives
motion to their fingers and utterance to their tongues. But leaving these wretched men to themselves, what are the dictates of our own reason on this subject? It tells us, in the outset, that it has not always existed; that thought arising from its perceptions springs from a principle very distinct from its own; that its faculties are the gift of some extraneous Being, who nevertheless is intimately present to all its operations. These first dawnings of reason must convince us of our weakness; and are sufficient to lead us insensibly to the important truths held out by religion. The necessity of a revelation soon becomes evident, and it is to be found only in the bosom of Christianity, which may be traced to its source in the garden of Eden. There was the theatre of our misfortunes; as well as the cradle of our worship. It was there that the first man, in consequence of his voluntary transgression, was stript of all the prerogatives of innocence, all the attributes of happiness, and saw no remedy for his misery, but in the promise of a Redeemer, who should one day appear to remove the ignorance and guilt of his posterity. The writings, which have transmitted this doctrine, present to reason's eye every feature of truth, and this noble faculty must be obscured by the delirium of the „senses, nay, if possible, extinguished, before any rational, doubt can be entertained of the authenticity of the prophetick and apostolick writings. When once the proofs of these are established, which is readily done, then man perceives himself to be a tributary being, and bound to his Creator by the strongest ties both of justice and gratitude.
He sees within himself, and in every thing around him, fresh motives for attaching himself without reserve to God, and for honouring him by that worship which he has ordained. In vain now are the murmurs of the reluctant passions, the rebellion of the senses, and the perplexities of uncertainty. The soul thinks, and combines for herself; and quickly discovers, that through faith alone we are bound, and enabled to adore a Being altogether incomprehensible. Thus our reason, (if the expression may be allowed,) is then only rational, when it fills us with silent admiration, and profound humility in the presence of the Eternal, con. vincing us at the same time, that all the speculations which have been hazarded on this subject, have ended in nothing but obscurity and doubt. What, in fact, have those philosophers taught us, who, in the pride of their hearts, have presumed to be the legislators of mankind? Some have classed us with the most unseemly and ferocious animals; while others have regarded us only as parts of an inert, and senseless Divinity identified with matter. But, alas! these thoughtless mortals refuse to consider, that when a Being essentially Infinite is the subject of our meditations, reason is justified in admitting incomprehensible truths, though not in herefforts to conceive of this Great Being himself.
It is not reason, then, but the perversion of this faculty, that delivers us over to sophistry and absurdity. The language of reason is consistent, when we listen to no other; and to stop at