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into Luxury, and into all the Vices which, naturally attend it. The Senses of Religion decayed; and the very Appearances of it were suspected, as a Remnant of the Hypocrisy with which the late Times had been charged. And if we may judge by the Performances of the Stage, which are formed to the Taste of the People, there never was a Time when Lewdness, Irreligion, and Profaneness were heard with more Patience.
But let us consider, what Fruit the Nation had of these Things. I shall pass over all the Calamities of that Time, which were many, and mention only that, which is the Cause and Foundation of all we fear at present. In the next Reign then, see Popery once more exalted to the Throne of England, and working to destroy the Religion and Liberties of the People ; not by Art and Cunning and leisurely Steps, but by open and avowed Attempts upon our Constitution. The Laws for Defence of our Religion were silenced by a. dispensing Power ; Papists were placed on the Bench, on the Seat of Judgment, and at the Head of Colleges in our Universities. Men's Hearts sunk for Fear, and the Torrent seemed to carry all before it. One happy Effect indeed it had; it
awakened Men to a sober. Sense of themfelves and their Condition. When they were put in Fear, they foon found themselves to be but Men; and they did the only reasonable Thing they could do, apply to God for Protection. The Zeal of the Nation at that Time, for the pure uncorrupted Doctrines of the Gospel, in Opposition to the Errors of Popery, was perhaps greater than ever it had been from the Days of the Reformation. The Pastors and their Flocks were equally animated with a Constancy and a Courage above Temptation. And the Clergy of the Established Church, under all the Fears and Apprehensions that daily threatened them, maintained the Do&trines of the Reformation, with such Learning, Ability, and Integrity, as did them Honour both at home and abroad.
Thus were the Hearts of the People turned as the Heart of one Man: nor was it in vain they fought the Lord; for, by a wonderful Series of Providence, he delivered them from their Distress. And we have seen for many Years the Crown upon the Head of Protestant Princes, the natural Guardians of the Religion and Liberties of this Country.
If we have made right Use of this last Deliverance, let us fear no Change ; for God will not forsake us, till we forsake him. But the Prospect before us, the Danger that draws near to us, call upon us to act uprightly with ourselves; and not to deceive our Hearts with Hopes that God will remember us, if we have forgot him, and the great Things he has done for us.
Our Histories will always remind us of the great Deliverances this Nation has had, and we cannot forget them; nor did the Jews forget the Wonders wrought in the Land of Egypt, and the Redemption of their Ancestors from Captivity. The historical Remembrance of the Facts they had; and we have it. The Charge against the Jews expressed frequently by their forgetting God, is the same which St. Paul brings against the heathen World: When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their Imagina. tions; and their foolish Heart was darkened.
Do we stand clear of this Charge? I wish to God we did.
Let not me be the Accuser of my Nation, but let every Man recollect what he has heard, and read, and seen, within the Com
pars pass of a few Years. Surely the Gospel of Christ Jesus was never treated with greater Malice and Contempt, by Jews or Heathens, than it has been in this Christian Country. Think not that I am condemning a sober Enquiry into the Truth of Religion: God forbid. But what shall we say, for the undisguised Profaneness, and even Blasphemy that has swarıned from the Press! Many Instances might be given ; but one can never be forgotten; where the noblest and most exalted Hymn of Christian Devotion known to this Church, or any Church in the World, in which Angels and the blessed Spirits above join with us, has been perverted to the highest Impiety and Blasphemy, that ever the Wickedness or Malice of Man's Heart could conceive. This and other Crimes of the same Nature are indeed chargeable on the Authors: but how deplorable must the State of a Nation be, when Men find Encouragement to provide such Entertainment for the Publick ?
Look into common Life, not to pry into the secret Faults of Men, but to see what is become of that Sense of Religion, which once animated the People. When Popery was breaking in upon us, our Churches were
crowded ; ways
crowded; and unhappy was the Man, who by Sickness, or any real Neceflity, was prevented in his Attendance in the House of the LORD. Is it so now? Is not Sunday become a Day of Diversion to the Great Ones, and a Day of Idleness and Laziness to the Little Ones? And has not this been manifestly followed by a great Increase of great Wickedness and Violence among the lower People? Theft and Robbery, which used to be fecret Crimes, now appear armed in our Streets; and are supported by Numbers strong enough to defy the Power of the Magistrate. The unruly Passions of Men must be governed either by Force, or by Religion. Force cannot watch at all Doors to prevent further Mischief; but Religion is a Centinel placed in every Heart, to guard it against Wickedness; and it is but a natural Consequence for Men to grow violent and injurious to others, in Proportion as their Sense of Religion decays.
But amidst this Ruin of Virtue and Religion, one Thing there is, that still may be thought Matter of Comfort; that the Na. tion is generally averse to Popery: but it is some Abatement even to this Comfort, to consider that the Fear of Popery is not al