« 前へ次へ »
the more ignorant they are, the more determined and desperate enemies they will be; as being free from the restraints of conscience and reflexion, to yield blind obedience to their directors.
The papists in Ireland, by the lowest computation I have seen, are five to two. The civil and military government are in the hands of protestants, and in times of public tranquillity are sufficient to keep the papists in due obedience : but whenever the public has been distressed by internal commotions, the strength of popery in Ireland has been fatally experienced. The situation of affairs in Charles the First's time brought them to take arms; and the general massacre of the Protestants is still fresh in memory, in which thousands perished by cruelties unknown even among barbarous nations.
At the Revolution, the popery of Ireland endangered the protestantism of the three kingdoms, by finding employment for the arms of England, when they were wanted elsewhere to support the cause of liberty and religion : and should we ever be so unhappy as to see our religion and liberty put again to the chance of war, there can be no doubt whích side the Irish papists would take.
Even in the times of peace they are of little use to the public, being through want of education greatly unacquainted with the arts of civil life, and strangers to the improvements which make men great and considerable. They may be fit for arms, but they are not fit to be trusted in a protestant army: many of them indeed take to this employment; and they are a seminary for foreign troops ; a strength bred up among ourselves, but always at the service of our enemies. So that when you compute their numbers and their force, you must place their strength to the account, not of their natural prince, the king of Great Britain, but rather to some foreign powers, and to those especially of whom England has the greatest reason to be jealous.
What shall we say then to this state of the case ? Shall these great numbers continue still to be our enemies ? or shall we try to gain their affections, and make them friends as well as subject to the government ? Shall we see them still sacrificing their lives due to the defence of their country, in the service of
foreign powers? or shall we engage their hearts and hands in a nobler warfare, in the cause of liberty ? Shall we permit them to remain untaught, uncultivated, useless to themselves and to the world ? or shall we show them the arts of life and honest industry, teach them to be happy, and of service to themselves and to the public?
There can be no doubt which part is to be chosen. But as even the temporal advantages proposed are not to be obtained but by setting these poor people free from the tyranny of popery, and by opening their minds to see and receive the truths of the gospel ; the methods to be used with them must be such as are consistent with the nature of religion, and such as the circumstances of the people will admit.-And such only have you made choice of.
When you receive children, whose parents willingly intrust them to your care, (and others you seek not after,) you act by commission under the paternal authority, and are authorised by the same natural right, when you teach and instruct such children, as parents themselves are when they teach and instruct their own.
Whoever therefore has any objection to the work you are engaged in, must first dispute the parent's right to educate his own children, before he can controvert yours.
If the consent of parents gives you a right, your charity and benevolence in undertaking a duty, which the poor parents are incapable of discharging themselves, will not fail to give you a reward in due time. Ages to come, when they feel the happy change, the foundation of which is now laying, shall bless your memory; and thousands yet unborn may owe their happiness in this world, and their hopes in a 'better, to this work and labor of love.
Go on then, and may success wait on your care! The wishes of all who wish well to their country, are with you; and every good man, if he has nothing else to give, will bestow his prayers, that this work of the Lord may prosper in your hands.
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE XIII.
II cóRINTHIANS, CHÁP. IX._VERSE 12.
To take in the full sense of the Apostle on this subject, the 14th verse ought to be read together with the text.
The occasion of these words explained : hence an inference is drawn, that it is not only lawful, but laudable, to make the natural passions and inclinations of men subservient to the cause of virtue and religion. These motives however must be kept in their proper place; we may recommend them, but they cannot make a duty: the ground of obedience lies deeper : this shown to be regard for the honor of God, for the good of our brethren, and for our own happiness ; which principles, though considered distinct, are as it were united : nor must we imagine that they are peculiar to works of charity, since they extend to all parts of our duty; and from them all religion is derived.
In treating therefore this subject, three considerations are proposed : I. how these principles influence religion in general : 11. how plainly and evidently they lead us to works of charity and mercy: III. how effectually they conspire to recommend that good work which is the object of this meeting in the presence of God.
First, then : man is a religious creature, in consequence of his being a rational one: our obligations to do right arise from the natural powers with which we are endowed, to distinguish between right and wrong: this point enlarged on. When once a man has attained to the knowlege of God, and of the rela,
tion he bears to him, and feels the natural obligations from thence arising to love, honor, and obey his Maker; though other considerations may come in to incline him to his duty, yet none can add to his obligations ; since he already acts on the highest principle which a rational mind is capable of entertaining.
The second principle of duty, which is the love of our neighbor, may be considered in two views; either as it results from the common relation which all men bear to God, or from the relation which men bear to each other. In the first view, to love our neighbor is properly a religious act, and part of the duty which we owe to God, whose attributes must render it acceptable to him. But besides this, could we suppose men to forget God without forgetting themselves, and losing the reason which they are endowed with, the very light of reason, assisted by their natural faculty of distinguishing what is right and wrong, would oblige them to use each other with justice and with tenderness: this point enlarged on.
Join these two considerations together, and you see into the very source of all the obligations a man can be under to do good to his fellow-creatures. We can consider men only as they stand related to 'us, or as they and we stand equally related to God, our common father; and under these views we may discover whatever we owe to man for his own sake, or for the sake of God who made him, and discern the whole compass of our duty with respect to the second great branch of it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The third thing then is now considered, viz. the love of ourselves and our own happiness'; and how far this will and ought to influence our religious obedience.
It is evident from the common and universal sense of mankind, that the desires of life and happiness are impressions which come from the Author of nature ; and consequently that to follow these impressions, and act according to them, is
agreeable to nature and to the will of God, the Author of them. It is reasonable for a man to be concerned for his own happiness, and consonant to the divine will ; and considering the strict union which God has made between our happiness and our duty, this principle will always be a powerful one in matters of religion : this point enlarged on.
To judge rightly therefore of the motives on which men act in their religious concerns, we must judge of the nature of the happiness which they propose to themselves ; and as long as men seek after that which is natural and proper, and intended for them by God, so long they act on motives agreeable to his will.
The happiness in which men are capable of having any share, or for which they have any desires, is either that which belongs to this world, or that which belongs to the world to come. That future rewards are proper incitements to virtue and religion, is plain from Scripture ; but these do not alter the nature of religion, or give to God a better title to our obedience than he had before: this point enlarged on.
As to the happiness of this present life, we can as little question whether God intended men to be happy here, as whether he intends them to be so hereafter : the natural desires of men after this happiness, the necessary connexion between it and virtue, and the goodness of God towards his creatures, will not permit us to doubt it. Under the old law we find the promises of this life expressly made to religious obedience by God himself: even under the gospel we are assured that godliness has the promises of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. To encourage ourselves therefore in our duty with the hopes that God will reward us here with life, health, and prosperity, is no blemish to our religion, but rather an act of faith in God as Governor of the world. Our Saviour reckons but two heads of religion, the love of God, and the love of our neighbor; but the second of these plainly infers another,