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but, in truth, it is the prevalency of such principles of religion and virtue which forms the strength and glory of a nation. Where these are totally wanting, no measures contrived by human wisdom can supply the defect. In proportion as they prevail, they raise the state of society from that sad degeneracy into which it is at present sunk, and carry it forward, under the blessing of heaven, towards that happy period, when nations shall not lift up their sword against nation, nor learn war any more.
In order to prove the importance of Religious Knowledge to the interest of society, one consideration more, deserving particular attention, remains to be mentioned. It is, that if good sense be not sown in the field, tares will infallibly spring up. The propension towards religion is strong in the human heart. There is a natural preparation in our minds for receiving some impressions of supernatural belief. Upon these among ignorant and uncultivated men, superstition or enthusiasm never fail to graft themselves. Into what monstrous forms these have shot forth, and what various mischiefs they have produced to society, is too well known. Nor is this the whole of the danger. Designing men are always ready to take advantage of this popular weakness, and to direct the superstitious bias of the multitude to their own ambitious and interested ends. Superstition, in itself a formidable evil, threatens consequences still more formidable when it is rendered the tool of design and craft. Hence arises one of the most powerful arguments for propagating with zeal, as far as our influence can extend, the pure and undefiled doctrines of the Gospel of Christ ; in order that just
and rational principles of religion may fill up that room in the minds of men, which dangerous fanaticism will otherwise usurp.
This consideration alone is sufficient to show the high utility of the design undertaken by the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge. With great propriety, they have bestowed their chief attention on a remote quarter of our country, where, from a variety of causes, ignorance and superstition had gained more ground, than in any other corner of the land; where the inhabitants by their local situation were more imperfectly supplied with the means of proper education and instruction; and at the same time exposed to the seductions of such as sought to pervert them from the truth. The laudable endeavours of this Society in diffusing religious and useful knowledge through this part of the country, have already been crowned with much success ; and more is still to be expected from the continuance of their pious and well-directed attention.
With such good designs, it becomes all to cooperate, who are lovers of mankind. Thus shall they show their just sense of the value of that blessing which they enjoy in the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ; and their gratitude to Heaven for conferring it upon them. Thus shall they make the blessings of those who are now ready to perish through lack of knowledge, descend upon their heads. Thus shall they contribute their endeavours for bringing forward that happy period, foretold by ancient prophecy; when there shall be one Lord over all the carth, and his name one; when that name shall be great from the rising to the setting sun; when there shall be nothing to hurt or destroy in all the holy
mountain of God; but judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field ; the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose : and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
* Zech. xiv.9. Malachi, i. 11. Isaiah, xxxii. 16.-- xxxv. 1.
On the TRUE HONOUR of Man.
PROVERBS, iv. 8.
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee ; she shall bring
thee to honour.
THE love of honour is one of the strongest pas
sions in the human heart. It shows itself in our earliest years;
and is coeval with the first exertions of reason. It accompanies us through all the stages of subsequent life; and in private stations discovers itself no less than in the higher ranks of society. In their ideas of what constitutes honour, men greatly vary, and often grossly err. But of somewhat which they conceive to form pre-eminence and distinction, all are desirous. All wish, by some means or other, to acquire respect from those among whom they live; and to contempt and disgrace, none are insensible.
Among the advantages which attend religion and virtue, the honour which they confer on man is frequently mentioned in Scripture as one of the most considerable. Wisdom is the principal thing, says Solomon, in the passage where the text lies, therefore get wisdom ; and with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee ; she shall bring thee to honour, when
thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. It is evident that throughout all the sacred writings, and particularly in the book of Proverbs, by wisdom is to be understood a principle of religion producing virtuous conduct. The fear of the Lord is said to be the beginning of wisdom : And by this fear of the Lord men are said to depart from evil; to walk in the way of good men, and to keep the path of the righteous. Man is then regulated by the wisdom which is from above, when he is formed by piety to the duties of virtue and morality; and of the wisdom which produces this effect, it is asserted in the text, that it bringeth us to honour.
On this recommendation of religion it is the more necessary to fix our attention, because it is often refused to it by men of the world. Their notions of honour are apt to run in a very different channel. Wherever religion is mentioned, they connect it with ideas of melancholy and dejection, or of mean and feeble spirits. They perhaps admit that it
be useful to the multitude, as a principle of restraint from disorders and crimes; and that to persons of a peculiar turn of mind it may afford consolation under the distresses of life: but from the active scenes of the world, and from those vigorous exertions which display to advantage the human abilities, they incline totally to exclude it. It may soothe the timid or the sad: but they consider it as having no connection with what is proper to raise men to honour and distinction. I shall now endeavour to remove this reproach from religion; and to show that in every
* Prov. ii. 20.