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DISCOURSE I.

ON THE CHARACTERS OF RELIGION IN THE

PRESENT AGE.

MARK, i. 1.

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus

« Christ, the Son of God.

We have again, my brethren, reached that season, when our attention is in a more peculiar manner directed to the consideration of the evidences and the history of our religion. It is the wisdom of our church every year to call our thoughts to meditation on these subjects;

Preached on the first Sunday in Advent 1811,

It
VOL. II.

and, to those who can appreciate them rightly, none can afford more interesting or improving reflections.

We are, perhaps, too much in the habit of considering Christianity as something quite detached from every other human interest, or concern; and while we build upon

it our faith in a future state of existence, we yet seldom examine its story and character with that ardent curiosity with which we commonly investigate the political condition of mankind, either in our own, or in distant times. Besides, however, its influence on moral conduct and religious belief, the study of our religion opens to our contemplation the most singular train of events which has taken place in the progress of the world, and which, more than any other, has had a lasting influence on the fortunes and the temper of nations.

When we look to its origin, indeed, we discover but little, from which, the consequences that have followed,could well have been predicted. To those who are accustomed to inquire into the complicated apparatus of human policy, and to trace its effects upon

the fate of mankind, there will appear something very unpromising in the simple characters and lives of our Lord and his Disciples. This very circumstance, however, is particularly interesting to every well-constituted mind; and it must be refreshing, at least, to turn away our thoughts, for a time, from the dark picture which the events of our own age so constantly obtrude

upon
them,

from the proud and cheerless aspect of worldly ambition and aggrandisement, to those humble scenes, which, amidst all their mighty consequences on the happiness of the human race, both in the present and in a future state of existence, were yet transacted in the huts of fishermen, and

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