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4. For this glorious achievement, there is demanded more courage than has, in modern days, been manifested by the church of God.
Wherever circumstances have precluded the application of force for the defence of his cause, there the god of this world.has attempted to fortify it by a perverted public sentiment. This, while it predominates, is as terrific as the inquisition ; and if not as bloody, it is unquestionably as virulent, overbearing, and severe. Multitudes shrink before it, who would not hesitate to storm the deadly breach; and one half the power of the Christian church is doubtless this very moment paralyzed by it, if not even arrayed by its influence against the cause of Christ. Fashion is the Juggernaut of Christian lands; around whose car pilgrims of all conditions gather, and do homage.
Here, then, in communities civilized and nominally Christian, is to be fought one of the keenest battles : For after every strong hold is demolished, if Satan can but frame the laws of honour and of fashion, he will not fail to govern by maxims which will shut out the gospel, and perpetuate the dominion of sin. And Christians are the first to be emancipated. While they are in captivity, the world will be in chains. Jesus Christ must have entire
posses: sion of his own soldiers, before the armies of the living God can put to flight the armies of the aliens. s
This conflict for dominion over public sentiment is coming on : and, by this generation, in city and in country, it is to be decided, whether an evangelical or a worldly influence shall prevail-whether the land-marks of Christian morality shall stand against the inundations of vice; or with every thing that is pure, and lovely, and of good report, be swept away. Emboldened by the pusillanimity of the friends of virtue, the enemy have become audacious, and scarcely covet the veil of darkness; but seem even to glory in their shame, And if no stand is made, we are undone. The church in this land will go into captivity, and the nation is undone. Our prosperity and voluptuousness will be our ruin ; and short and rapid will be our journey from the cradle to the grave. But if resistance is made, then will the waves rise, and foam, and roar, and dash furiously upon those who shall dare to make a stand : and birds of ill omen will flap their sooty wings, and croak, and scream, to intimidate and dishearten the fearful, and the unbelieving: and all the engines of bad influence will be applied to prevent that coalition of patriotism and of virtue, which would set bounds to the encroachments of evil, and shed day-light upon the works of darkness, and stamp with-indelible and intolerable infamy wickedness in high places and in low places.
And now, custom, with silver tongue, will plead prescription—It always has been so, and always will be, and why should we attempt innovation ? And interest, too, will plead necessity— How can I withdraw my capital, or alter my course? To refuse to do wrong a little, would be to take away my children's bread.' And now, difficulty, with good wishes and sorrowing face, will plead, "Spare thy servant in this thing—is it not a little one ?' While fear will see the giants, the sons of Anak, and call out for care, and prudence, lest we should act prematurely, or be righteous ermuch. Petulance, too, will lift up her voice, with vexation at our presumptuous meddling, wondering that we cannot mind our own affairs, and let other people alone.
And even eharity, so called, will draw aside her veil, for the archers with poisoned arrows to hit us. While liberality, provoked beyond endurance, will hail upon our heads the hard names of " bigot, enthusiast, fanatic, hypocrite.'
All this, however, we could easily sustain, were there no treachery within. But our hearts are yet in too close consultation with flesh and blood. - What will the world think? What will the world say. ? How will it affect my reputa. tion—my interest---my ambition--or even my usefulness ?-Suppose I step in as a kind of candid mediator between the world and my too zealous brethren, taking the prudent course, and not carrying matters too far ?". O, that prudent course !--that middle ground-80 crowded, when the lines are drawing between Christ and the world! Satan desires no better troops than neutral Christians. And the Lord Jesus Christ abhors none more.
He prefers infidelity to lukewarm Christianity. I would that thou wert either cold or not; so then because thou art neither, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
As to cheating Satan out of his empire over men, by a reserved course of warfare, he has no objection that Christians should dream about it, and try it. But we mistake, if we suppose our wisdom a match for his wiles ; or that we can so prudently drive him out of this world, as that he will find no pretext for controversy. Whenever we do enough to give to religion a solemn veality upon the minds of men, and draw the cords of evangelical morality with such power, as shall compel reformation, or inflict disgrace; we must calculate to meet his resistance who reigns in the hearts of the children of disobedience. And the time will come, when men must take sides. For as the conflict between virtue and vice waxes warm, neither side will tolerate neutrality: and he who plants his foot upon neutral ground, will select just the hottest place in the battle, and receive the fire from both sides.
Two things are required of all who would be found on the side of liberty and evangelical morality. One is, that we will not do wrong in obedience to custom: The other is, that we will not be accessary to the wrong done by others that we will give to the cause of virtue the testimony of correct opinions--the power of a correct example and the influence of our inflexible patronage. There are piety and principle enough in the community to put down the usurpations of irreligion and crime, if the sound part of the community will only awake, and array itself on the side of purity, and order. But we must come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. The entire capital in the hands of honest and moral men, which is employed in establishments that corrupt society, must be withdrawn; and that patronage which has swelled the revenue of establishments that lend their aid to the cause of licentiousness, must be turned over to the side of purity and order. Until this is done, we shall not cease to be partakers in other men's sins. The press, that mighty engine of good or evil, in a free country, must be enlisted decisively on the side of virtue ; and its perverted influence, if it continue, must be sustained only by those whose guilty cause it espouses. We cannot, as Christians we cannot, as patriots-give our patronage to that press which will not plead the cause of virtue, and which will prostitute its fearful energies to the cause of sin.
5. There must be new and more vigorous efforts to increase the number and power of evangelical churches in our land.
In all countries the tone of piety and evangelical morality corresponds esactly with the number, and purity, and energy of the churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The want of this organized moral power in many parts of our land is appalling. Our population multiplies, and the ratio of good moral influence declines, and ignorance and crime are coming in like a flood. All that has been done by Tract Societies, by Sabbath Schools, by Education Societies, and by the National Society for Domestic Missions, is as the drop of the bucket to the ocean. A new and mighty effort is demanded, to send light through the territories of darkness—to repress crime, and perpetuate our civil and religious institutions. In our large cities, especially. is the increase of ignorance and licentiousness lamentable and ominous. Here wealth and temptation concentrate their power upon masses of mind, whose influence cannot fail to affect deeply the destiny of the nation. If they send out a vigorous current of healthful life-blood, the whole nation will feel the renovating influence : but if, with every pulsation, they send out iniquity and death, no power on earth can avert our doom.
A moral power is the only influence that can save our cities. Mere coorcion, in a land of freemen, will not avail. Nor will a lax nominal Christianity suffice; where offenders may find access to the table of Christ, and protection by the horns of the altar. The new churches, to succeed, should be composed of persons of real piety, of kindred sentiment, and of decided character; and, from the beginning, consist of so many members, and be blessed with such talent and devoted piety in the ministry, and be so countenanced and sustained by other churches, as that their attraction shall not fail to bring under the sacred influence of the gospel the surrounding community. Until our cities shall thus be made to feel, in overy part, the purifying power of the gospel, the whole land will continue to send to them, as it has done, hecatombs of youthful victims, to be repaid by disappointed hopes and moral contamination.
6. Special effort is required, to secure to the rising generation an education free from the influence of bad example, and more decidedly evangelical.
The atmosphere which our children breathe, from the cradle upward, should be pure. Instead of this, it would not be difficult to find common schools in which ignorance and irreligion predominate. Even where the intellect is cultivated, the heart not unfrequently is corrupted, and the child made wise only to do evil. In a great proportion of the higher schools, to which Christians send their children, little exists of a decidedly religious tendency; while in some a powerful influence is exerted against evangelical sentiments and piety.
And though in many of our Colleges there is a salutary religious influence, and repeated revivals of religion are enjoyed, in none is the influence of religion so decisive as it might be ; while in some, to which pious parents send their children, the influence is directly and powerfully hostile to religion.
I am aware, that not a few regard religious influence in our Colleges as already too great, and that an effort is making to separate religion from science, during the progress of a collegiate education. And those who choose to rear Colleges, and send their offspring where the power of the gospel shall be excluded, have, doubtless, a right to do so--answerable for
their conduct only to God. But no Christian can do this without violating the vows of God which are upon him, to train up his child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And, instead of a compromise in the evangelical Colleges of our land, there should be, as easily there may be, a more decided tone of religious influence. Our Colleges should every one of them be blessed, not only with preaching, but with kind, discreet, and assiduous pastoral instruction and care. Why should these precious communities of inexperienced youth, separated from parental inspection, and exposed to peculiar temptation, be deprived of the watchful eye and parental voice of pastoral exhortation and advice? What parent would not pray with more faith, and sleep more quietly, if he knew that some one, acquainted with the youthful heart, and appointed to watch over his child, had gained his confidence and affection, and was praying and labouring for his salvation ?
There is no period in life when the heart may be more successfully assailed, than that which is passed in a College. And there is no class of human beings, among whom revivals may be promoted, bý proper pastoral attention, with greater certainty, or with greater power and glory. Nor can it be expected, that the Church will ever look forth fair as the morning, until effectual care is taken, that in her higher schools and Colleges, her children shall be induced to consecrate to God the dew of their youth.
7. The vigour of charitable effort must be greatly increased.
As long as rich men shall trust more in uncertain riches than in the living God, and the covetous shall.dare to heap up treasures to themselves, consecrating to God scarcely the crumbs that fall from their table, and the ambitious shall insist that they will roll in splendour, and give only the pittance. which can be spared from the expense of a wanton ostentation—as long as professors shall consume, in extra gratifications of sense, to the injury of health, sums that, if consecrated to Christ, might suffice to extend the word of life and the institutions of the gospel all over the world—as long as avaricious Christians shall so extend their plans of business, with the increase of their capital, as always to be straitened in the midst of their gains—and as long as parents shall labour to amass wealth for their offspring, only to paralyze their enterprise, and corrupt their morals, and ensure their ruin, -solong the cause of God on earth must move slowly. But the blame must rest on us. There is at this moment, in the hands of Christians, capital enough to evangelize the world in a short period of time, and without the retrenchment of a single comfort, and only by the consecration to Christ of substance, the possession of which would be useless, and often injurious. It is not required of Christian nations to sustain the entire work of preaching the gospel to all the unevangelized population of the earth. Nothing is needed but to erect the standard in pagan lands—to plant the seed-to deposit the leaven, in schools and in churches, until each nation shall support gospel institutions. This is the work to which God in his providence is calling the churches. Now, and for fifty years to come, the substance and enterprise of good men is imperiously demanded. Within that period, it is not improbable, that every nation may be so far evangelized, as that the work may move onward to its consummation, without extraneous aid
8. The jealousies of Christians who are united substantially in their views of evangelical doctrine and religion, and who are divided only by localities, and rites, and forms, must yield, and give place to the glorious exigencies of the present day. The amalgamation of denominations is not required. The division of labour may greatly augment the amount; and the
provocation to love and good works may be real and salutary, and still be conducted without invidious collision. Like the tribes of Israel, we may all encamp about the tabernacle of God-each under his own standard—and when the ark advances, may all move onward, terrible only to the powers of darkness. And if the enemies of righteousness are not sufficient to rebuke our selfishness, and force us into a coalition of love and good works; then verily it may be expected and even be hoped--that God, by the fire of persecution, will purge away our dross, and take away our tin, until we shall love him, and his cause, and one another, with a pure heart, fervently.
9. Let me add, that we must guard against the dangers peculiar to a state of religious prosperity.
There is no condition in which an individual, or the church at large, can be exempted from temptations. And especially as the church shall become formidable, and bring upon the great enemy of God the pressure of a desperate extremity, we are to expect, that his rage will increase, and his wiles be multiplied. For he will leave the world only when forced ; and will fight upon the retreat-giving many a desperate battle, when it shall seem as if the necessity was past of watching against his devices. Never, therefore, has the necessity of vigilance and prayer been more imperious than now. Let all the churches, then, with their pastors, feel deeply their dependence on God; and when their alms come up before him, and his Spirit shall descend in new and glorious showers, let them watch and pray that they enter not into temptation, and experience an overthrow in the moment of victory.
To fear revivals, because attended by some indications of human imperfection, would be weak and wicked : and far from the church of God be the presiumptuous confidence, that nothing deeply injurious to the general interests of religion can be blended with a real work of the Spirit. But though I am not without solicitude on this head, I do trust and expect, that God will preserve his churches, and cause pure religion and undefiled to prosper, and not permit the adversary to turn our glory into shame. O, could he do it, how would his minions screain out their joy! and how would Zion be confounded, and in this day of rejoicing, be compelled to hang her harp upon the willow, and sit down to weep in sackcloth and ashes ! To conclude,
Will any of you, my hearers, in this glorious day, take side against the cause of Christ! It will be a fearful experiment. What the mind and counsel of God have purposed to do for the melioration of man is now hastening to its consummation, with the intenseness of infinite benevolence, under the guidance of unerring wisdom, and by the impulse of Almighty power. And wo unto him who contendeth with his Maker.-The lines are now drawing, and preparation is fast inaking for the battle of the great day of God Almighty. And who is on the Lord's side? Who! Will
any of vou, in this sublimely interesting moment, stand on neutral ground!