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instrumental in producing this happy change, would descend into the grave, cheered by the returning light of that bright sun, which gilded the best days of New England.
2. The support of moral and religious institutions is the next grand object, in which rulers, ministers, churches, and people of every vame and denomination, should cordially and perseveringly unite. Vital piety is the spring of christian morality. “Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good.' When men love God, they will“ keep bis commandinents. A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things. But how can genuine piety be most effectually promoted ? It is not more true, that God works every where than that he works by means and instruments. If our moral and religious institutions are not the essence of religion, they are indispensable to its preservation. If they are not the citadel, they are the strong and necessary outworks. If they are not the tables of the Law,' they are the 'ark 'that contains them.
It is worse than mere trifling to say, that God can and will take care of his own cause, whether we do anything to promote it or not. He has been pleased to appoint means, and to assign us our work. He has instituted the Sabbath, He has instituted public worship. He has required us to do good and communicate. He has made it our duty to assist in sending the word of life to the heathen, and to do what we can to promote the best interests of the community in which we live. Let all, then, cordially unite in the support of our institutions. Let the appointed worship of God on the Sabbath be
where zealously maintained. Let meeting for prayer and religious improvement be encouraged. Let those Missionary, Bible, and Moral Societies which now
exist, be zealously supported, and let others be formed in every part of the land. Let the Scriptures be put into every destitute family. Above all, let fervent supplications be offered unceasingly to God for the out pouring of his Spirit, without whose divine influences, religion can never fourish in a community, or in the heart of one fallen creature.
3. Much may be done to discourage immorality and promote the best interests of a people by framing good laws. This is the province of the legislative branch of the government; and when legislators are actuated by a proper spirit, their first and main object, in making laws is not to inflict punishment, but to deter men from transgression. The statutes laws of a community are so many strong walls and bulwarks, built up around the lives, liberties, and estates of men, and they best answer their end when the fewest have the hardihood to break through them. It is only following up the benevolent intention of the laws, when those who are appointed to administer them, are vigilant and persevering in the discharge of their official duties; and it is promoting the same design, when associations are formed, to countenance and assist ex tive officers.
In a government like ours, where all power emanates from the people, they may do much towards giving a proper tone and complexion to the laws, by uniting in the choice of good men to office. It is their duty to keep a watchful eye over those, whom they from time to time, elevate by their suffrages, and to withdraw their confidence, whenever they find that it has been misplaced.
4. The execution of the laws is another great object, in which rulers and people should firmly and perseveringly co-operate. This should be the last resort. It is not,
till every milder method has been faithfully but ineffectually tried, that penalties should be inflicted; but inflicted they must be, upon those who obstinately persist in any course of disobedience. In no other way can the dignity and efficiency of the laws be maintained. To suffer them to be trainpled upon with impunity, is to render them worse than useless. It is to stand by and see the foundations of society undermined, and its strongest bonds severed. Laws then, I repeat, must be executed. Upon this painful extremity, depends all that we hold dear. But how shall they be executed ? Transgressors are numerous. They are scattered all over the community. They need, every where, to be narrowly watched. But a single magistrate, however vigilant and active, cannot be everywhere. Nor 'can two, nor can twenty. The sphere of any one man's observation is necessarily limited. Hence the necessity of multiplying executive and informing officers. Hence the necessity of their combined and simultaneous exertions; and hence the importance of appointing men to office, who will be both active and persevering.
The lamentation is sounding day and night in our ears, that the laws against intemperance, sabbath-breaking, profane swearing, and the like, cannot be executed. And what is the mighty difficulty ? Simply the want of a little exertion. The mischief is, that while hundreds and thousands are forward enough to unite in the lamentation ; to wish that the wicked would reform, and to point out what ought to be done, very few can be persuaded to act; and these few effect almost nothing, for want of concert.
To execute the laws in this state is, I had almost said, one of the easiest things in the world. Let it once be known that all our informing officers and magistrates are determined to do their duty, and who would think of violating the sabbath, by travelling on our public roads, or laboring in the field ? Who would dare to keep a dramshop, or be a tavern-haunter? Who under the pains and penalties of our laws, would persist in gambling, or profane swearing? Only let the faint hearted leave their hiding places and be found at their posts; let the constituted authorities once unite; let them act; let them persevere; and soon, we should hear no more about the difficulty of executing the laws. Punishment would tread so uniformly and so closely upon the heels of transgression, that in a month, the main body of sabbathbreakers, tipplers, &c. would dissappear, and it would only be necessary to keep a watchful eye upon a few stragglers.
Brief and rapid as the preceding sketch is, I flatter myself that none who have attended to it, will question the mighty efficacy of such combined and persevering exertions, as have been recommended, for the education of children--the support of our moral and religious institutions—the framing of good penal laws—and the prompt execution of such laws.
But the grand difficulty, as I before observed, is, to persuade even good people to unite, to .act, and to per
Some try hard to persuade themselves, that there is no danger, from the enemies of our institutions ; while others, see a ' lion in the way,' and are confident that if they venture to stir, they shall be s slain in the streets. One goes to his farm,' another to his profession, and another to his merchandise.' Some are very anxious, that every body else should put their hands to the work, while they touch not the burden with one of
their fingers. And when the reason of their standing all the day idle,' is demanded ;'( we are not the persons to appear in this thing. We are unpopular. Any thing we could do, would rather injure, than promote the good cause.' In the mean time, immorality gains ground, and reformation becomes more difficult.
It was this state of things which first suggested the necessity of forming moral societies. It was believed, that the friends of our invaluable institutions might in this way, be induced to unite in their defence: and that the best effects would result from such an union of virtue, talents, and influence. The attempt has been made. A general society for Connecticut, has been established, and has commenced its operations, under favorable auspices. Many branch societies have also been formed, and for all the good that has actually been done, we are bound to 'thank God and take courage.' The advantages of union, and the importance of persevering action, are every day more and more correctly appreciated. Many who were timid at first, are now courageous and active. Many who were faithless,' are now believing.'
Much, however, still remains to be done. Though the wheels of the moral society have been put in motion, they will not go up of themselves. They are to be rolled up hill; and to make the work easy, the combined strength of numbers must be steadily applied. some strong men stand aloof, who, we are persuaded, wish success to the society, and will ultimately become efficient members.
In the mean time, it cannot be concealed, that sloth, that moral enemy to every good work, has crept into the society, and is quietly reposing in its bosom. sons very readily put their name to the constitution, and