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and influence of ecclesiastical persons; but the thinking and influential minds must be overcome by showing, that not only can we meet the adversary in the field by force of argument, but that the spirit of our system is ennobling and consoling to human nature necessary to the right enjoyment of life, and conducive to every good and honourable work. Religion is not now to be propagated by rebuking the free scope of thought, and drafting as it were every weak creature that will abase his powers of mind before the zeal and unction of a preacher, and by schooling the host of weaklings. to keep close and apart from the rest of the world. This both begins wrong and ends wrong. It begins wrong, by converting only a part of the mind to the Lord, and holding the rest in superstitious bonds. It ends wrong, in not sending your man forth to combat in his courses with the unconverted. The reason of both errors is one and the same. Not having thoroughly furnished him to render a reason of the hope that is in him, you dare not trust him in the enemy's camp, lest they should bring him over again, or laugh at him, for cleaving to a side which he cannot thoroughly defend. I mean not in this and the many
other allusions which I have made to the degeneracy of our times, to argue that every Christian should be trained in schools of learning or human wisdom, but that the spirit of our procedure in making and keeping proselytes should be enlightened and liberal, and the character of our preaching strong and manly as well as sound. That
we should rejoice in the illumination of the age, and the cultivation of the public mind, as giving us a higher tribunal than hath perhaps ever existed, before which to plead the oracles of God-before which to come in all the strength and loveliness of our cause, asking a verdict not from their toleration of us its advocates, but upon their conscience, and from the demonstration of its truth.
In such a manner we have endeavoured to conduct the discourse, which we now bring to a close. Whether it may gain the conviction of those to whom it is addressed, we leave in the hands of God, who giveth the increase, possessing within ourselves the satisfaction of having designed and endeavoured the best; adding to all, this our solemn conviction: That until advocates of religion do arise to make unhallowed poets, and undevout dealers in science, and intemperate advocates of policy, and all other pleaders before the public mind, give place, and know the inferiority of their various provinces to this of ours—till this most fatal error, that our subject is second-rate, be dissipated by a first-rate advocation of it—till we can shift these others into the back ground of the great theatre of thought, by clear superiority in the treatment of our subject, we shall never see the men of understanding in this nation brought back to the fountains of living water, from which their fathers drew the life of all their greatness.
Many will think it an unchristian thing to reason thus violently, and many will think it altogether unintelligible ; and to ourselves it would feel
unseemly, did we not reassure ourselves by looking around. They are ruling and they are ruled, but God's oracles rule them not. They are studying every record of antiquity in their seats of learning, but the record of God, and of him whom he hath sent, is almost unheeded. They enjoy every communion of society, of pleasure, of enterprise, this world affords; but little communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. They carry on commerce with all lands, the bustle and noise of their traffic fill the whole earth; they go to and fro, and knowledge is increased,-but how few in the hasting crowd are hasting after the kingdom of God! Meanwhile death sweepeth on with his chilling blast, freezing up the life of generations, catching their spirits unblessed with any preparation of peace, quenching hope, and binding destiny for evermore. Their graves are dressed, and their tombs are adorned :--but their spirits, where are they? How oft hath this city, where I now write these lamentations over a thoughtless age, been filled and emptied of her people since first she reared her imperial head! How many generations of her revellers have gone to another kind of revelry; how many generations of her
gay courtiers to a royal residence where courtier-arts are not; how many generations of her toilsome tradesmen to the place of silence, whither no gain can follow them! How time hath swept over her, age after age, with its consuming wave, swallowing every living thing, and bearing it away unto the shores of eternity! The sight and thought of all which is
my assurance, that I have not in the heat of my feelings surpassed the merit of the case. The theme is fitter for an indignant prophet, than an uninspired sinful man.
But the increase is of the Lord. May He honour these thoughts to find a welcome in every breast which weighs them--may He carry these warnings to the conscience of every one whose eye peruseth them. And may his oracles come forth to guide the proceedings of men, that they may dwell together in love and unity, and come at length to the everlasting habitation of his holi
END OF THE ORATIONS,