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cations of life made many forget it; and many more were too much sunk in ignorance and indolence, to mark those displays of wisdom, power and goodness, which ought to raise it in the breast. Such persons could see the sun set and rise, and could turn their sight upon the spacious sky, without adoring the Maker's greatness, or extolling his wisdom. They could wander, with unconscious gaze in the midst of nature, neither listening to her voice, nor joining in her grand chorus to creative goodness.
Now it was easy to foresee, that this defection of individuals from their Almighty Parent; might not only spread itself into general corruption, but involve particular societies in temporal misery. It, therefore, became necessary to institute a social worship, by which all the members of a community might be assembled, in one solemn act, to give some public mark of that homage of heart, which was universally agreed to be due to the supreme head of the social system.
From this time, then, a chief ruler, to administer law and superintend the public weal, was not a more salutary institution, than the separate institution of an order of men to preside in these solemn acts of deyotion, and to form the minds of the people to the knowledge both of law and duty. For action follows opinion; and, in order to act right, we must first learn to think right.
Thus, the priesthood seems to rest on the same foundation with society itself, and takes its rise from the necessity of human affairs, which requires some institution for assisting the busy, rouzing the indo
lent, and informing all. Without this, every other institution for the good of mankind would be found imperfect; and there never was a society of any kind that did not find it necessary, under some name or another, to appoint certain persons, whose particular business it might be, to study and explain what was conceived to be the great interests of that society, especially to such of its members as had less opportunity or ability of informing themselves.
We see, then, that the office of such an order of men (call them priests, or by any other name) is important in its original, and noble in its design; being nothing less than the great design of making men wise and happy-wise in knowing and happy in doing what God requires of them.
But what is it that God requires us to know and to do as the means of happiness? Is it not to know and do homage to him as cur supreme good, and to know and do our duty in the several relations he hath appointed us to sustain?
Shall those, then, who are called to instruct mankind be told after this, that things belonging to civil happiness fall not within their sphere? Hath not God himself joined the table of social duties to that of religious ones? Hath he not, in his benevolent constitution of things, made temporal wisdom and happiness introductory to that which is eternal? And shall we perversely put asunder what God hath so kindly joined? Or is it not evidently our duty, as teachers, to explain to others their great interests, not only as they are creatures of God, but also as they are members of a particular community?
The contrary doctrine would soon pave the way to entire wretchedness. For what nation hath ever preserved a true sense of virtue, when the sense of liberty was extinct? Or, in particular, could the protestant religion be maintained, if the spirit of protes. tant liberty were suffered to decay? Are they not so intimately connected, that to divide them would be to destroy both?
Indeed, languid and remiss as many of our profession are said to be, yet to them is greatly owing what sense of virtue and liberty is still left in this remote part of the globe. Had not they, or some of them at least, from time to time, boldly raised their voice, and warned and exhorted their fellow-citizens, mixing temporal with eternal concerns, most cer, tainly popish error and popish slavery (perhaps heathen error and heathen slavery) had long ere now overwhelmed us! Where, then, would have been the blessings purchased by our reformation and glo. rious revolution? Or, where would have been that inestimable liberty of conscience, which, as the best things may be most readily abused,
" Now views with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
But further, in favour of the point in question, I might here also bring the sanction of God himself, and plead the example of our blessed Lord and master, that great high-priest and best preacher of righteousness, who had a tear-yes, a heart-shed tear-for the civil distress incumbent over the very country that
crucified him, and would have led its inhabitants to shun their temporal as well as their eternal misery.
But this I pass over, as I know you will have to deal with those who will be for trying every thing at the bar of what they call impartial Reason. I have, therefore, hinted such reasons as I think will hold immutably true, in societies of every kind, even in the most enlightened, and far more so in those that are circumstanced as we are at present.
We are a people, thrown together from various quarters of the world, differing in all things-language, manners, and sentiments. We are blessed with privileges, which to the wise will prove a sanctuary, but to the foolish a rock of offence. Liberty never deigns to dwell but with a prudent, a sensible and manly people. Our general conduct, I fear, will scarce entitle us to this character in its proper degree. We are apt either to grovel beneath the true spirit of freedom; or, when we aim at spirit, to be borne, by an unbridled fierceness, to the other extreme; not keeping to that rational medium, which is founded on a more enlarged and refined turn of sentiment. Add to all this, that an enterprising enemy behind us is ready to seize every advantage against us.
We are continually advancing nearer to one another in our frontier settlements, and have here no surrounding ocean, or impassible barrier between us.
Now, in such a situation, what can ever unite us among ourselves, or keep us a separate people from our crafty foes, but the consciousness of having separate interests, both civil and religious? It should, therefore, be the constant endeavour of the clergy, in all their public addresses, to inspire every bosom with a rational zeal for our holy protestant faith, and an utter aversion to all sorts of slavery, especially in the
How far a just sense of our inestimable privileges, will contribute to exalt the genius of one people above another, is evident from the conduct of our brave countrymen, in the colonies to the northward. Their preachers have been long accustomed to dwell much upon the rights of Britons and of protestants. In consequence of this, to their immortal honour, they are now acting, as one man, like Britons and protestants, in defence of those rights.
Among us, on the contrary, where the few, who ought to explain those noble subjects, labour under many disadvantages, which I need not mention to you, a quite different* temper and spirit are to be
We either think it unlawful to act at all in the assertion of these sacred rights; or if we act, it is only with half a heart, as if but half informed with that sublime spirit, which is kindled by the love of truth and freedom, and burns in the bosom, like some pure etherial flame, lighting the soul to deeds of vir. tue and renown.
Every endeavour, therefore, to kindle up this allenlivening Aame, and exalt our country's genius, is truly worthy a preacher's character, notwithstanding
This was the state of things at the time of writing the above, when some unhappy disputes and prejudices greatly retarded the public service of the country. But these being at length done away, it must in justice be owned that full compensation hath, in the issue, been made for this first delay.