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port, the case should be an urgent one. For such persons the best help that can be afforded, is a place to live, and an employment to take up their time. To do them good is to change their habits. It is the part of wisdom, and of duty at all times, to govern our conduct according to the circumstances in which we are called to act. If we are to have a special regard to the household of faith, in improving opportunities to do good, we are not disregarding the temporal wants, and sufferings, of our fellow men, to aim at their most important interest; and to endeavor to build up the kingdom of truth and righteousness in the world. There is nothing plainer in prophecy than, that this world, which has lain in wickedness from the fall of man, is to be restored, and that the gospel, which has been confined to the small portion of the human family, is to spread its light, and iufluence, from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. God acts invisibly, employing second causes, to effect his purposes.
If he extends his gospel to all nations, and people, men must be the instruments, and, their substance must be the means. Wherever the Bible is sent, paper, and printing, will be indispensable; and whoever are employed to preach it, they must be fed, and clothed, and instructed, or they will not be able to teach others. For all these things expense must be incurred; and this expense must be met in the ordinary way; for it would be presumption to depend upon miracles in a day in which we see no miracles wrought; and have no encouragement to expect any.
Though little is done, compared with what ought to be done, and with what might be done; still the world was, probably, never so wide awake to righteousness, as at the present day. Among the many benevolent projects of a recent date, has one been suffered to come to a termination, through the deficiency of pecuniary support.
But my audience may think, that this address is misapplied, and plead that their substance is all taken up in supplying themselves, and their families, together with some little occasional assistance which they lend to the poor, in articles of food, and raiment. Let some things be here seriously considered,
What class of people, or what individual, has nothing to do with the direction, Honor the Lord with thy substance; and with the first fruits of all thine increase; and what class of people, or what individual, has nothing to do with the promise connected with this direction; So shall thy barns be filled with plenty; and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
How firmly established, and how widely spread, is Satan's kingdom in our ruined world; and how many, and how miserable, are his subjects? Moloch's name is to be found only in history; but abominations like those, which were anciently united with his worship, present now a sad, and heart affecting spectacle. If you saw children thrown by their parents into a river, would you not be astonished at this want of parental affection; or at this infatuation; and plunge in yourselves, to save them from drowning? If you saw such little helpless creatures hanging upon the trees, where they must perish with hunger, or be devoured by the birds of prey, would you not instantly fly to their relief; and do all in your power to provide for their future safety? If you saw men, or women, lying in the road, where they must be crushed to death under the wheels of a monstrous carriage, unless speedily removed, would you not hasten to stop the carriage, or to raise the prostrate victims?
Though you are not spectators of such things, they actually exist, and others, not less horrible; and there is no way of curing the evil but by imparting religious instruction to the deluded people. This is an effectual cure; for as great things, with the exception of miracles, have attended the preaching of the gospel in heathen lands, in our own times, and quite lately, as were produced by the same cause in Samaria, when Philip exposed, and broke up the bewitching sorcery of Simon. Whole nations have given up their
idol gods; and the stupid worship connected with them; and are now engaged in that reasonable service which it has ever been our privilege to perform.
If what the heathen need is the gospel, who shall send it to them? Many, more able, and perhaps, as many, less able, than we are, are coming forward with their contributions. No one would have blamed the widow, if she had
withheld her two mites from the treasury, when in a case less urgent, the rich were casting in their offerings; but, that she was not left to want we may be sure from the record of her charity; and of her confidence in God.
As the vine dresser thinks it no damage, but a great benefit to prune his vines of their superfluous branches; so we should lose nothing, but gain much, were we to remove from ourselves those things which owe their existence to our pride; which tend only to increase our pride; and the expense of which, if spared would form a fund sufficient to answer all important calls. Many things might be named which are no more essential to our support, and comfort, than the play things of a child, and these are generally, the things for which we pay the most. In the same divine volume in which we read, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; we read, Be ye not conformed to this world. Were we to take heed to this latter precept, our substance would increase, and be like the overflowing Nile, whose waters allow of being drained off, for the supply of all the adjacent country.
We have now gone through with the proclamation of Ezra, and will conclude our discourse with a brief notice of some things good, and evil, as we are respected. The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places; and we have a goodly heritage. Our own country has always yielded a sufficiency for the wants of the people; and generally, a very great surplus.
While Europe has been the theatre of war, and the slaughter house of mankind, here peace has reigned from the settlement of our original ancestors, with a very few years of interruption.
While men have been born kings in other parts of the earth, we have chosen our own rulers, and displaced them at our pleasure.
While men have almost every where been involved in the grossest darkness, respecting the things of another world, the bright, and morning star, the Sun of righteousness has ever shed his enlivening beams upon this land, and multitudes have, in the highest, and most important sense, experien
ced the loving kindness of the Lord.
These are among the good things. What things must be set down as evil?
Because of swearing the land mourneth. Profane language is not the language of the sailor and of the soldier only; the privilege of using it is claimed equally, by the gentleman; and sometimes by his lady; and sometimes by the professor of christianity. Laws are enacted to prevent swearing, by the punishment of the swearer. Will laws ever be necessary to punish men for sweeping chimneys; or for daubing themselves with the mire, and uncleanness of the streets?
Intemperance is a crying sin, of which as a nation, we are guilty. If the tax gatherers could gather up all that is unnecessarily, spent, for the purchase of intoxicating liquor, all the demands of the government would be satisfied, and there would be much of the people's money in the treasury. Though this is a place, not noted for tippling practices, there is, probably, enough sold here, of various kinds of liquor, beyond what is useful, to amount to more than three times the compensation which I receive from the town.
The profanation of the Sabbath is a matter which deserves serious consideration. Though there are laws to prevent it, it is not prevented. To pass by other things, the mail is carried upon the Sabbath, not only with the countenance, but by the order of the government; and the stages are filled with passengers, who in riding follow their own dictates. Whether any thing of this is necessary in war, is at least very questionable; and, that it is not necessary in peace, is too apparent, to allow of a dispute. When piety takes the lead in our councils, proper regulations will be adopted.* If the ordinary occupations of life can be suspended upon the sabbath, all communications respecting them, might be suspended likewise.
Duelling is another sin very common among us, and of which we have lately, had a peculiarly awful instance. Either the laws with regard to this enormity are deficient in their penalties; or the execution of them is dispensed with, from motives of false delicacy, and of false honor. If killing is murder when the act of killing is a premeditated act, ought not the duelist to be pursued as the murderer is, by
the officers of justice, and brought to the same disgraceful execution? How many lives would be saved were such a course to be adopted? The day may come when from motives of the purest benevolence, such a remedy may be prescribed for an evil, incurable by common means.
That slavery should exist in a land of freedom, and, that the slave trade should be carried on as it is, against the most positive prohibitions, calls for our humiliation. The national character is not sufficiently conformed to the principles, and spirit, of the religion of Christ, or such inhumanity could not be practised for thus runs the precept given to regulate our conduct one with another, Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them. There is no one who would be willing to be a slave and to be sold, and treated like the cattle.
To come home to our own affairs my brethren, how is it with us? We have shared in national blessings. Have we thankfully received them, and faithfully improved them? Is it not the observation of every one among us, who makes any serious observation, that it is, and long has been, a time of great stupidity with us? He cannot be thankful for any favor, who is not thankful for the unspeakable gift, for he cannot have a sense of obligation for a small favor; who has none for a great one. The work of God is going on in - many places, and the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto us. How are we affected by the prospect? In a time of distressing drought, when every green thing is withered, we anxiously watch the rise, and motion, of the clouds; and when we see the rain descending upon the territory of some neighboring people, we long to partake with them in the blessing of the shower. Are showers of grace of less consequence than showers of rain? May God grant us both; according as he shall see us to need.