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respect for religion exhaust itself in an attendance on the weekly services of public worship, and in a negative silence during the six other days? There are many and bright exceptions. But if we were to speak our honest, deliberate convictions, could we declare it to be our belief that one tenth part of this people fulfill the two commandments, to love God with all the heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves? Is there one person in ten, who we have reason to think is supremely and habitually governed by christian principle? It may be said, we have no reason to think otherwise, and it is not for us to judge our fellow-men. Be it so; but we may form an opinion of society from its appearances, and if it be fact that all the proof which we can discern of an active moral sentiment is the want of evidence against it, we have but little reason to believe in its existence. We can however apply some of the rules by which a judgement may be formed. How large a majority of the people are not worshippers in the church, how many are there who never, or but occasionally, read the Bible, how many families in which the immortality and accountableness of man are themes never introduced into conversation, nor domestic love hallowed by the visible influence of piety? How much of profaneness, of passion, of falsehood, of injustice, is there? We will not swell the list. Here are some positive proofs that men are not governed by christian principle, or are not moved by christian feeling.
We enter among the different classes of the community, and what do we see ? Farmers, artisans, day-labor
ers, toiling from morning to night, to gain a subsistence for themselves and their families; merchants, devoting almost every waking hour to the concerns of traffic; scholars, pressing their researches into the treasures of human wisdom with a zeal that almost consumes the energies which it enkindles; professional men, studying for knowledge and for fame, with an ardor that no discouragement can chill; men of leisure, occupying themselves in the cultivation of their minds and manners; men of pleasure, pursuing the various allurements that are offered to their appetites or their vanity; the female mind improved by study, the female heart consecrated to domestic attachments, or both mind and heart given to the world, the fashions, follies, and society of the time. Now suppose all this to be right and well. We ask, and we ask with a solemn anxiety that the question may receive a proper answer, ought there not to be something more? Ought not mechanics, agriculturists, merchants, scholars, and professional men, to be thorough Christians? Certainly; all must reply. Then we ask, are they so? generally, we mean-are they fervent lovers of God and man, earnest disciples of Jesus Christ, practical believers in the gospel ?
Again ; ought not they who have leisure or wealth, and wish to enjoy life, to seek that enjoyment in religion ? Will they not be disappointed if they seek it elsewhere? Unquestionably. But do they go thither for happiness? Do they feel and act as men who cherish the spirit of heaven in their hearts ?
Once more; ought not they who possess such immense power over the other sex, who form the char
acter when it is pliant, who are the guardians of public morals in a better and more effectual manner, than censors appointed by government-ought not they to be christian women in the fullest sense of the word ? Ought not their souls to be sanctified by the choicest influences of the religion to which they are indebted for their place in society? Surely—surely. But is this the fact? Answer, ye mothers and daughters of the land.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.' This lesson should be imprinted on our memories, and pressed into our hearts. Then it would be as if the spirit of God should descend into our souls, and transform them into his own image. The divine spirit would be received by us through the gospel of Christ, and we should resemble him whose meat and drink it was to do his Father's will. Then would a change be wrought such as the world has not seen since the age of miracles—a change which will be needed, so long as men virtually prefer other things to the righteousness of God. Let Christians not simply acknowledge, or occasionally feel the supreme importance of religion, but let it be their habitual conviction that it is the one thing needful. Let the immortal welfare of the soul supplant the desire for riches and the temper of worldliness. Let men regard this life in its only momentous relations, those which connect it with eternity. Let them maintain a steadfast sense of their accountableness to an Omniscient Judge. Let them embrace the revelations of the gospel with a living faith, and their chief labor,anxiety, and hope will not be fastened to this world. They will desire holiness with an intense earnestness ; their souls will hunger and thirst after a better life ; and the riches, the pleasures, the honors, the learning, the elegance of earth will seem to them lighter than a feather's weight, when put in opposition to eternal salvation ; yet worthy of pursuit, when sought with such a chastened zeal as shall be consistent with the soul's future peace.
In this devotion to the real purposes of existence there will be no tincture of fanaticism, and no disregard of social ties, and no pernicious excitement of the mind. Men will think earnestly, but calmly; they will feel strongly, but with a rational fervor, on the subject of religion. They will not be slothful in business,' because they are 'fervent in spirit,'nor negligent in serving their families, because they are diligent in serving the Lord.' Literature will not lose its charm, by its subjection to the influence of piety. Sound learning will not be discredited, because divine Truth is allowed to have preeminence. Social life will not become monotonous or barren of delight, by introducing the sympathies of heaven, and the felt and visible action of pious sentiment. No; home will have holier and more blissful associations than it now has in the minds of most men ; literature will be instinct with a new and more generous life than has yet determined its character; and the mercantile transactions of the world will be as honorable as now, but more safe and of more equal advantage. In brief, a new day will then dawn upon mankind, and unborn generations will rejoice in its light.
Our object has been to draw attention to the evil which marks our times, and therefore we have dealt chiefly in such inquiries or allusions to facts, as would produce a sense of its reality. The remedy must be found in the improvement of each individual. If a want of a sober employment of the general mind on the truths and commands of Christianity is the defect-we do not say, the vice, but the defect-the serious defect of the age, then in the name of God, of Christ, and of man, may we call
each other to correct it; in the name of God, for the purpose of his miraculous communication to our world by his Son was the deliverance of the soul from that bondage of error and sin which prevents the developement of its spiritual energies; in the name of Christ, for in his devotion to this. object he sacrificed his life, and died in agony and shame; in the name of man, for it is the cry of human nature that demands assistance in surmounting the tendencies which draw it to earth, and the influences which enclose its action within the concerns of a brief state of existence. Reason and conscience lift up their voice, and charge us to be faithful to ourselves. They say to us, that it will but aggravate our guilt to have had signal opportunities for improvement, if we slight them. They tell us that if we have arrived at a better conception of Christianity than others, we are bound to be better men. They speak to us of immortality and retribution; and ask us if we are prepared for judgement. The question is a solemn one; what answer can we give ?