« 前へ次へ »
whatever they may be, there is no cause to apprehend, that the dominion of the Messiah is declining; on the contrary, there are many reasons for hoping, that it will become every day more firm and extensive. That it will finally be a universal dominion, a kingdom which will embrace the whole earth, is what many Christians believe; and it is thought by them that the prophecies of the Scriptures foretell this event. If this opinion, however, embarrasses them in their defence of the gospel against the objections of infidels, they are not obliged to take it for granted. The sacred writers were accustomed to express their ideas with so much strength, that sometimes more met the ear, than was meant to be conveyed to the mind. An instance of this hyperbolical style we have in the seventy-second Psalm, the language of which, however forcible may be its sound, was primarily fulfilled, and was intended to be fulfilled, in the person of Solomon. If hereafter the kingdom of Christ should be found to be universal, the prophecies of the Scriptures may be justly applied to the event; for they admit, though they do not necessarily demand, that explanation : but in the meanwhile it will be sufficient for the defender of Christianity to show, that our Saviour promised that his dominion should be extensive, and that it has become so in effect.
That it may be further enlarged, is the prayer of the benevolent man; because wherever it is established, it diffuses blessings on its subjects. Let us therefore endeavor to increase their number by every means in our power.
Whenever an opportunity presents itself of sending the gospel to distant nations, or of converting a heathen from the errors of idolatry to the worship of one
God, let us embrace it with zeal. But if no such Ople portunity offers, we need not lament, that we are deprived of the power of doing good; because there are many ways nearer home, in which, with less expense, and with more effect, we can manifest our piety and benevolence. Every exertion, which we make to render religion more intelligible, or to communicate the knowledge of it to them, who are ignorant or unmindful of its salutary truths, contributes to the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ. In particular may we add to the number of his subjects, when we have the will and the power to promote the ease, prosperity, and virtue of our country; so that, a subsistence being readily obtained, and the lives of the people being not wantonly destroyed by vice, new Christian inhabitants appear throughout the land, and new Christian cities, villages, and churches, are everywhere built.
In effecting this important purpose, it is the duty of all good men to unite their endeavors to remove the causes, which tend to desolate the country, to abridge or destroy the lives of the inhabitants, and to fill their houses with poverty and misery. The two causes,
, which most frequently have a deadly operation on the happiness and increase of nations, and which consequently prevent the growth of the kingdom of Christ, are intemperance and war.
There cannot be a doubt, that from intemperance proceeds no small part of the wretchedness, which is endured among us. It is time to put a more effectual check on the deleterious vice, than has hitherto been done, - by combinations of masters to withhold the intoxicating draught from their hired servants, — by sup
pressing the dens of sin, where the poison is sold in small
War is at present removed from our country; and whilst we are enjoying the blessings of peace, we may be allowed to lift up our voices against it, and to pronounce, that war is of all follies, into which man has fallen, the most absurd, and of all crimes the most destructive of human life and happiness. At the close of the hostilities of the revolution, by which our country was emancipated from the power of the parent state, this sentiment prevailed in the breasts of many of the wise and the good ; and arguments were then urged against war, and some attempts were made to put an end to it forever. With what success this was done, is well known to all who are acquainted with the history of the protracted war, introduced by the French revolution. During that period, the hands of men were more deeply imbrued in blood, than perhaps in any
of the world. But let not the Christian and the benevolent man be discouraged ; for the arguments against war are stronger than ever; and the friends of peace are more confirmed in the justness of their conclusions. They who delighted in slaughter, and who wantonly insulted the rights of other nations, gained nothing by their savage fury; but defeat, exile, heart-burning vexation, and other bolts of divine vengeance fell on them, who roused the world to
Now then is the time to speak; and it is necessary in this country to speak with emphasis; because the remembrance of the gallant defence, which was made of
some of our cities, and of the victories, which were gained on the ocean and the lakes, has invested the image of battles with splendors, which dazzle the eyes of many of our brave men. They are eager to expose themselves again to the miseries and horrors of war, that they may crown their heads with fresh laurels. But whatever may be the wishes of these ardent men, whose hearts beat high with courage, and who pant for fame, we may hope that they, who possess authority and influence in the government, are too wise to plunge us again into the wretchedness, from which the world is escaped. We may hope, that they who delight in the welfare of mankind, and in the extension of the kingdom of Christ, will continue their exertions in favor of peace; remembering for their encouragement, that no pious and virtuous effort is ever lost; that it will certainly obtain a reward in a future state, and that even in the present state, the endeavors of the good have meliorated the face of the earth and the condition of man. Let this, my brethren, be your aim. You will thus honor the king, whose subjects you profess to be ; and you will celebrate his triumphant resurrection in the manner, which he most highly approves.
FEAR OF PUNISHMENT.
HOSEA XIII. 9.
THOU HAST DESTROYED THYSELF.
The Supreme Being who is infinitely good, as well as infinitely wise and powerful, in creating the children of men, designed them for virtue and happiness. Virtue is valuable for its own sake: it is an object, which we cannot forbear to love and admire, even if it should produce no salutary effects to the individual, by whom it is practised. The good man is a great and honorable character, whether he is happy or unhappy; and a world filled with virtuous beings is a glorious spectacle, whatever the consequences of their virtue may be. But the value of virtue is much enhanced, when it is found that the natural effect of it is to bless its possessors. God intends us for perfect moral rectitude, because the consequence of it is happiness; and he forbids whatever is contrary to it, because by transgressing its laws, we render ourselves miserable.
In this view of virtue, as the cause of happiness, we cannot forbear considering every method, which God employs to lead us to it, as an instance of benevolence.