« ZurückWeiter »
ten thousand such frivolous cavils as those above. mentioned; every one of which falls of course, on the removal of the fundamental one. For, having already shewn, that it becomes those who are placed as watchmen on the walls of our holy Zion, to “cry “ aloud and spare not,” on the approach of every thing that can “ hurt or make us afraid," either in our civil or religious capacity; surely no warmth can be unseasonable at a time when all that we account dear or sacred is threatened with one indiscriminate ruin.
Those who are in good earnest, in the great work of instructing others, will suit themselves to seasons and occasions; and for a preacher to neglect the present opportunity of making impressions of holiness, and diffusing a just sense of those excellent privi. leges, which are but too little understood, though fully enjoyed among us, would be the most unpar. donable breach of duty.
were, no doubt, sincerely to be wished, that the harsh voice of discord, and the clangor of the trumpet, could be forever hushed in the world. And we, in particular, who preach the kingdom of the Messiah, cannot but prize and even adore peace, as it is the chief of blessings, and auspicious to religion and all the best interests of mankind. But the greater this blessing is, the more necessary it often becomes to assert it against those who delight in violence and blood. There is no unmixed felicity in this imperfect state. It was only in Eden and the state of innocence, where the rose bloomed without its thorn; and til we are admitted into a kingdom of universal
righteousness, we must not look for the blessings of peace, entirely free from the miseries of war. While we have public sins, we must expect public chastisements.
With regard to the last objection, which I said might probably be levelled against such sermons as yours, I would observe, that I think the subject of popery can never be exhausted, while the danger of it remains; and though it may be a subject well understood by those who have been long blessed with faithful protestant pastors, yet this cannot be the case with those who have had so few advantages of this kind as your infant congregations.
Indeed, that you should be more than ordinarily alarmed at this most singular crisis, is not to be wondered at. For, while we sit as yet safe in our metropolis, your situation on the frontiers is most dreadful; and our last accounts from you are truly distressing to humanity-The army sent to your protection, defeated, retreating and leaving you defenceless behind them! murderers stealing through midnight darkness, and polluting the bed of rest* with savage death! Our poor back settlers, who, after much hard- . ship and toil, had just begun to taste ease and comfort, daily forced from their habitations, leaving their unreaped harvests to the spoiler; and—what is far more severe-leaving, some a beloved wife, some an affectionate husband, some a tender parent, a brother or a son, leaving them bleeding beneath the unrelent. ing hand of merciless barbarians!
• The inhuman butcheries and outrages of the Indians.
In such a case, shall we be silent to avoid the imputation of too much warmth? Shall we expose ourselves to worse than persecution, for fear of stirring up a persecution of others? The rest of the foregoing objections would only lead us to give up all concern for the civil rights of our fellow citizens; but this goes farther, and, under an extraordinary shew of benevolence, would induce us tamely to yield up our sacred truth and religious rights also, for fear of being thought rude and uncharitable to such as seek to rob us of them. Surely we may guard against slavish and erroneous doctrines, without any breach of our Christian charity towards those who have unhappily embraced such doctrines. And surely we may strive to awaken in every protestant bosom a due sense of our exalted privileges, and a noble resolution to defend them against every foreign invader, without kindling the flame of persecution against any of those who have peaceably sheltered themselves amongst us, upon the faith of a rational toleration.
Most certainly, my friend, all this may be done; and I think it has been clearly shewn that all this ought to be done by every minister, and more especially those of our national church, which is the great bulwark of the protestant interest. And, indeed, we who belong to that church, can want no farther arguments on this head when we have the example of that great and good prelate* who now presides over it. In his civil capacity, I need not mention the noble stand which he made in his diocese of York, during
the late rebellion. It will never be forgotten by Englishmen. And, in his episcopal capacity, when that danger was over, if you read his sermon preached at Kensington, on the Fast-day, January 7th, 1747, you will there find him as strenuously engaged for the preservation of the public virtue of his country, as he had been before for the preservation of its public li. berty; considering the one as inseparable from the other, and breathing forth that candid benevolence to his species, together with that tempered zeal for the protestant religion, and the rights of the British nation, which distinguish his character.
And here I cannot forbear the transcribing a paragraph of a late most excellent letter, which I had the honour to receive from him by your hands. It is not foreign to the subject we are now upon; and I persuade myself that you will make the same good use of it, which, by the help of God, I shall strive
“ You will, says he, not only maintain, but certainly increase your credit, by promoting the interest of your country and the honour of religion; in which I will venture to call it the golden rule of conduct, to keep strictly to the spirit of protestantism, and to preserve the dignity.of our establishment, in the temper of every reasonable degree of liberty.”—
This is a golden rule indeed; and while we frame our conduct by it, we need not be awed by the faces of men, but boldly proceed to warn and exhort them in every species of duty. It is true, we have but few temporal advantages, in these parts, to support us in such a noble cause, but yet we are not left destitute
of the most animating motives. Whilst others are proposing, and justly proposing, to themselves the palm of high renown, for bravely subduing and maintaining a rich and spacious country for the name of Britain and liberty, we may consider ourselves even in a still higher light, as subduing it to the name of Christ, and adding it to his everlasting kingdom! Compared to this, the glory of temporal conquests and foundations is but unsubstantial air, and shortlived renown!
Hence, then, my friend, were it my lot to be in your situation, at this perilous season, methinks I should consider myself as one who had advanced to the very frontiers of those places to which the gospel hath yet reached, and among the first who had unfolded its everlasting banners in the remotest parts of the West. Recede* I would not, nor give back a single inch to the gloomy reign of Heathenism and Error; but would strive to subject still more and more to the kingdom of God and his Christ. To see the fire and vigour of youth spent in such a work, is indeed a most lovely spectacle, because they are spent in his service who gave us both youth and fire! And if we exert ourselves manfully in such a cause, who knows, but at length, through Almighty assistance, a flame may be kindled which shall not only exalt every bosom among us to an equality with the fore
The gentleman to whom this was addressed, as well as some ministers of other denominations, did a few months after this find it necessary to appear at the head of their people, and were signally instrumental in preventing some of the Frontier-counties from being totally abandoned by their inhabitants.