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The Social and Civil Influence of the Christian Ministry.
THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY
AUXILIARY EDUCATION SOCIETY
The Poung Men of Boston;
FEBRUARY 6, 1825.
BY LEONARD BACON.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE SOCIETY
NEHEMIAH, 11. 19.
BUT WHEN SANBALLAT THE HORONITE, AND TOBIAH THE SERVANT,
THE AMMONITE, AND GESHEM THE ARABIAN, HEARD IT, THEY LAUGHED US TO SCORN, AND DESPISED US, AND SAID, WHAT IS THIS THING THAT YE DO ?
Every great and good design must contend with the opposition of all who have never comprehended the magnitude of the object, or who are unable to sympathize with the benevolence of the purpose. In whatever mighty enterprise you may choose to engage, you will find that you must encounter, not only the enmity of the malignant, and the sneers of the sarcastic witling; but also the cold indifference, and the withering contempt, of men whose characters you have been accustomed to reverence, and whose patronage you are desirous to secure.
This is peculiarly true of the enterprise for which I am called to plead this evening. Its projectors and supporters have undertaken it as a purely Christian enterprise. Their design is, by increasing the
number of able and faithful preachers of the gospel, to accomplish the salvation of souls. Their motives are inspired by that faith which is conversant with the realities of another world, and which is concerned for the interests of an eternal existence. In other words, they have been persuaded, by their love of God, by the obligations which bind them to the service of Christ, and by their regard for the salyation of immortal souls, to do what they may towards extending through the world the purifying and saving influence of Christian truth. In prosecuting this design, they find themselves compelled not only to contend with the hostility of open infidelity, and to endure an uncommon share of the mean-spirited abuse which is heaped on every noble undertaking, but also to meet the coldness and the frowns of men who call themselves the friends of Christianity, and whose habitual generosity might seem to ensure the most efficient co-operation
The reason of this is obvious. The enterprise, as I have already said, presents itself in the character of a purely Christian undertaking. It aims to perpetuate, and strengthen, and extend the influence of true Christianity; and it is a thing to be expected that the men who have taken up arms against the gospel of God, will array all their force against the progress of such an enterprise. It seeks to accomplish this purpose, by increasing the numbers and elevating the character of the Christian Ministry; and it is a matter of course that such efforts should be extraordinarily exposed to the vulgar obloquy, which delights in the profanation of all things holy.
It appeals to motives peculiarly Christian, to the affections of the regenerated spirit; and it is not strange that the men—whatever may be the refinement of their feelings, or the nobleness of their temper-whose minds are engrossed with worldly pursuits and filled with worldly affections, should be unmoved by such appeals, or, if moved, affected only to disgust.
The open and malignant opposers of our religion we have no desire to conciliate, in the conduct of this undertaking. We ask of them no favours; we hold with them no parley; we defy their opposition; and in spite of all that they may say or do, our work will go forward to its consummation, “ for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." As Nehemiah told his opposers, 6 The God of Heaven, he will prosper us: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem ;'-so may we say to the enemies of the cross, You have no right nur partnership in this undertaking; it has been commenced without consulting your wishes, and, by the assistance of God, it will be carried on to the confusion of your designs and the destruction of your influence.
Still less may we condescend to notice the ineffectual abuse of those little spirits, who love to ridicule the holiness of religion, and the sanctity of all its institutions, because they have mistaken vulgarity for wit, and the grossness of obloquy for the keepness of satire. We should scorn the alliance of such men, and their opposition is too insignificant to be regarded.