On SOME EVENTS
DELIVERED IN THE BRICK CHURCH
IN NEW HAVEN, [ Conn. ]
ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 1801
By TIMOTHY DWIGHT, D. D
PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE
Printed by Ezra Read
The text of this and other superb works are available on-line from:
The Willison Politics and Philosophy Resource Center
Reprint and digital file October 14, 2001.
Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, was one of the most effective presidents of Yale College. His 168 lectures, known as "Dwight's Theology", given to all Yale students, were published here and in Britain well past the 1860's. They served an extraordinary purpose in providing an able opposition to "Enlightenment " thinking, which sought to destroy one's personal conviction of the Bible as the literal Word of God. This sermon, not included in his Theology , serves to expose the methods of the "Enlightenment" thinking in its war against the God of Heaven. Dr. Dwight clearly cites the cost in human misery, and the destruction of wholesome civilization by it's hand. He also points to the many faithful, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, who would not deny the Faith, and paid the ultimate cost as France drank the deadly draught of atheistic revolution, sealed in the blood of several million lives.
Ideas have consequences, as you read this poignant assessment of "education" functioning as the tool to shatter a society, make application to our present condition. Dwight perceptively projected out the inevitable effects several generations down the line, and challenges the friends of "blind leaps of faith", deism, or bold atheism to realize their personal eternal danger, and of those they seek to drag with them. (See pg. 45) Our current social condition is sober confirmation to the truth of Dwight's perceptive analysis.
One remarkable section also treats the future condition of the Jews, remember, this was 148 years before the formation of the State of Israel! ( pg. 40)
The following begins the original text:
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The audience, to whom this discourse was addressed, will perceive, that it differs, in some places, from what they heard from the desk. To explain the reason of this, they are reminded, that the discourse, as delivered to them, was the second of two, originally designed for the Students of Yale College; and that it was preached in the Brick Church, instead of the College Chapel, at the request of the Rev. Doctor DANA. As it referred in several places to the former discourse, it became necessary alter and enlarge it, when the design of publishing it was formed, that the obscurity arising from those references might be avoided.
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DEUTERONOMY, XXXI1. 7.
Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask thy father, and he will shew thee, thy elders, and they will tell thee.
THE works of GOD may be considered as a text, on which his word is the comment. In creation and providence we learn what is done, and in the scriptures why it is done. This instruction is as truly furnished by the events of the past year, or the past century, as by those of the days of Moses, or of the centuries before the deluge. The only important difference is found either in the peculiar magnitude of particular events, or in the skill of those who comment on them. Great events are not only more important, but more instructive, than little ones; and enlightened men can better derive instruction from them, and better communicate it to others, than men unenlightened. Inspired commentators, such as the scriptural writers were, could understand, and teach, the nature and use of providence certainly and exactly; other men partially, and with uncertainty. By them each part of the subject was understood, so far as they were directed to explain it; by others only the great and prominent parts. Their instructions, therefore, are unerring, and far more excellent and useful than our researches; yet these are not without their use; nor are we excluded from the duty of endeavoring to derive knowledge and wisdom from the works of GOD. Imperfect as our investigations must be, they will nevertheless prove, if we are disposed aright of no small advantage.
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ON this ground, it is presumed, Moses directed the Israelites to apply each to his father, and to the elders, for instruction concerning those things which existed "in the days of old and the years of preceding generations." These persons were all, or chiefly, uninspired, and were of course capable of only reciting facts, and making on them judicious observations. Yet these facts and observations were considered by Moses, and by the God who taught Moses, as deserving to be known and as useful, when known, to valuable ends.
IN the 107th Psalm, the inspired writer calls upon mankind "to praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men:" that is, for the wonderful works of his providence to mankind. To engage them to the effectual performance of this duty, he gives them an example of it in this very Psalm; and recites to them five different specimens of the providential conduct of GOD, as proper subjects of their investigation, and proper themes of their praise. These all are specimens of his ordinary providence. Thus the Psalmist teaches us, and with great beauty, eloquence and piety, that his ordinary providence is thus wonderful, and thus deserving of their attention and praise. But the common providence of GOD to the Jews was no more deserving of this regard than his providence to us, nor in the time of the Psalmist any more than at the present time. It is always the providence of the same JEHOVAH, the result of the same wisdom and goodness, and equally claiming our admiration and gratitude. Correspondently with this sentiment the Psalmist elsewhere declares, generally, that "the works of the LORD are great, honorable, and glorious, and sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.* Isaiah also ascribes the gross sinfulness of some men to a neglect of due regard to the works of GOD, and
* Ps. cxi. 2, 3.
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to the operation of his hands. † The Psalmist carries the thought still farther, and declares that "because men regard not the work of the LORD, nor the operation of his hand, he shall destroy them, and not build them up." ‡
To us, as to our fellow men, those works of God which we best know, and can most deeplv feel, are peculiarly proper subjects of this investigation. The events, therefore, of the past Century being well known, and strongly felt, by us, must in an eminent degree partake of this propriety. Most of all, the events, which during this period have taken place in our own country, merit our present consideration. These we know better, and cannot fail to feel more deeply, than any others. Permit me, therefore, to mention some of them for your present consideration.
THROUGH more than half of the past Century France possessed a great part of the eastern side of North America, and claimed most of the remainder. Great Britain held the rest. In the succeeding period Great Britain acquired all that was possessed by France, and lost almost all which the originally possessed. On the territory, which she lost, has been erected a new empire; the first civilized state, formed on the western shore of the Atlantic.
THE greatness of the changes, which during the Century under consideration have existed in the affairs of this country, may with some advantage be exhibited in the following manner.
IN the year 1700, five of the United States were mere forests, without a civilized inhabitant. These were Vermont, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. New Hampshire contained eight incorporated towns, out of two hundred
†Chap. v. ver. ii, ‡ Ps. xxiii. 5.
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and seven which it now contains; Massachusetts eighty, out of four hundred and four; and Connecticut twenty eight, out of one hundred and eight. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia had far fewer settlements than New England; and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina, settlements were scarcely begun.
THE manner, in which these Colonies were at that time regarded in Europe, may in some measure be learned from the two following accounts : The first is taken from a work of Cluverius, a Dutch Geographer and was published in 1697; the other from Heylin, a British Geographer, and was published in 1703.
CLUVERIUS himself does not even mention these Colonies, except under the general name of Virginia; and this be barely mentions. But Reiskius, one of his annotators, observes, that New England contains several villages, and four cities; of which Newport (Neuf Havre) the public seat of the Parliament (of New England) Boston, and Cambridge the seat of a College, are the chief.— The other regions, he observes, are rising from obscure beginnings by means of new Colonies.
OF Virginia the same annotator observes, that it borders on New France, derived its name most probably from Queen Elizabeth, is a barren and ill cultivated country, ill furnished with harhours,* and has a town called Medano. New Belgium he mentions also, as subdued by the English, and as containing New York, and the fortress of Albany.
BUNO, another annotator on the fame writer, says, that New England and New York lie between New France and New Virginia, and that New York borders on New Virginia.
*Or witkout any harbour, importuosum.
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HEYLIN says, that "New England lies between 40 and 41 degrees of North latitude, 70 miles on the ocean, which affords it plenty of harbour." This Colony, he remarks, is very strong, and has built seven great towns; the chief of which is Boston, which in 1670 had 50 sail of ships belonging to it. He describes this town as large and spacious, and as built at the bottom of a large bay, on three hills, on which are raised fortifications, with cannon mounted and well guarded. These ships, he says, are first employed in fishing, and then, compounding a freight of corn and other commodities, they pass to the southern plantations.
HE further mentions New England as a part of Virginia, as the most flourishing of the British Colonies, and as containing at least 42 towns; of which he says, "St. George’s Fort, New Plymouth, Bristow, Barnstable, Boston, Quilipiac, Charlestown, Dorchester, Cambridge, (which has several streets, two Colleges, and divers fair and well built houses) Reading (which he mentions as advantageously built near a pond, and by means of this situation as peculiarly fortunate in having one mill for corn, and another for umber) and Salem, are the chief." New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, are not named by him. Of the other British Colonies he says, among various remarks, that they have but one or two towns a-piece.
SUCH is the description, then given in those parts of Europe, where it was best known, and by professed geographers, of a country, now an independent empire; inhabited by more than five millions of people; employing near a million of tons of shipping, in a commerce, of which the exports, in 1800, amounted to about ninety millions of dollars; cultivating about sixty millions of acres; and possessing a considerable influence in the great affairs of mankind.
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from the beginning of the Eighteenth Century to the year 1763, these Colonies were affected by every war, in which Great Britain was involved against France. Nor were their struggles, their expenses, their dangers, or their losses, small. France, from an early period after the discovery of North America, had cast her eyes on this country as a most desirable acquisition. According to the then acknowledged law of the European nations, the sole right of the preemption and settlement of this country was in Great Britain. France, however, at an early date passed up the river St. Lawrence, and planted a Colony at Quebec; whence she soon stretched her arms southward, on the interior of the British settlements, so far as almost to complete a chain of fortresses from Canada to the mouth of the Mississippi. The turbulent ambition of her kings, which, as may be seen by the slightest examination of history, has, from the time of Clovis, kept Europe in an uproar, and the world in confusion; and the furious zeal of her hierarchy, impatient to subjugate mankind to the Romish see; aimed at nothing less than the entire extirpation of; the British Colonies. For this purpose her agents, civil, ecclesiastical, and military, with that activity, and perseverance, that flexibility of morals, and that fascination of manners, for which they have been so long and so eminently distinguished, laboured with intense exertions, through more than the first half of the Century, to acquire over our ancestors every advantage, and to inflict on them every suffering.
In this work of death and devastation they embarked the great body of those savages, who bordered on our frontiers. To the thirst for war, inherent in these wild and unfeeling people, were now added by their employers all the inducements, which can allure and engross a savage mind, the applause and honour conferred by the splendid and the powerful, the presents which most essentially
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relieved their wants and flattered their ambition, prices promised and paid for the scalps of the English settlers which they should produce, and rewards, most interesting to them, for all the cruelties which they should inflict, and all the ruin which they should accomplish.
The evils, produced by this system of mischief, were immense. By the regular and insidious attacks of the French on the one hand, and the solitary ambushments and midnight incursions of the Natives on the other, these Colonies were kept in an unceasing alarm and convulsion. The night rung with the war-whoop, and the day smoked with the conflagration of churches and private dwellings. The labourer at his work, the slumberer in his bed, and the congregation at their worship, were attacked and destroyed. The smile of the infant, the bloom of the virgin, and the locks of the hoary head, alike furnished no protection from the promiscuous carnage. It was not war, but assassination and butchery; butchery extended over a country; butchery contrived and stimulated in a professedly christian cabinet, and honoured and rewarded in a professedly christian metropolis.
In the progress of these hostilities, vast multitudes of our countrymen were destroyed and an amazing succession of miseries suffered, until the reduction of Canada, and the peace of Paris, put, in 1763, a period to our calamities, and placed a speedy renewal of them beyond the power of our enemies.
But, although this scourge had ceased to operate, our chastisements were not ended. When a people is to be punished, the means of infliction in the providence of GOD are always at hand. Soon after the peace, Great Britain adopted towards this
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country a new, unfounded and oppressive system of policy; a system equally repugnant to the sentiments of the Americans, and to those of great numbers of her own best and wisest citizens. The alarm was instantly sounded through the Continent, and a firm opposition determined on by the great body of the Colonists. Provoked, but not discouraged, by this unexpected resistance, the British government increased the exorbitance of their claims, and the unreasonableness of their measures, until they issued in 1775, in open war, begun at Lexington.
On our part this war was prosecuted with vast difficulty, and with various successes and disasters. The sufferings which it created were numberless and immeasurable. Our towns were burned, our fields walled, our houses plundered, and our soldiers in great numbers perished by sickness, by the sword, and by the hard-handed oppression, famine, and disease, of prisons and prison-ships. Our country was impoverished, and the surviving inhabitants were harassed with continual alarms, driven from their dwellings by invasion, and distressed by anxiety and suspense to a degree which experience only can comprehend. At the same time a great part of our country was wasted by disease, little less afflictive than the pestilence. A depreciating currency, also, sundering the bonds of amity between man and man, destroying the grounds of confidence in dealing, perplexing the sense, and relaxing the ties, of justice, and infusing into all human inter course apprehension and distrust, harassed the peace of society, and threatened with no small probability its utter ruin. But the same glorious Being, who had watched over us from the beginning with peculiar care and tenderness, terminated at length the sufferings of this war, also, by the final establishment of our independence, and a final deliverance from our adversaries.
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THE embarrassments of our country were, however, not yet brought to an end. No sooner was the peace concluded, than the debt, which we had contracted during the war, began to create universal perplexity and alarm. This widely spreading evil extended its malignant influence through public and private concerns alike, affected every citizen and every transaction, and reached equally the great affairs of commerce and the minute business of the fireside. The weakness and inefficiency of the existing Government, fashioned in the wild moments of enthusiasm, and founded on visionary ideas of patriotism, became also a new and most distressing source of universal perplexity. The larger, and particularly the commercial, States, throwing off all regard to a government, whose bonds were a parchment, and whose energy was a request, began a system of oppressive commercial regulations, and sported with the privileges of their less powerful neighbours..
In this period of peril and anxiety the same good providence took us again by the hand, and conducted us from the brink of civil war, and the verge of dissolution, to safety and peace. While all hearts were trembling, and all hands feeble, a general Convention was proposed, probably as a mere expedient, to avert odium, and avoid a temporary embarrassment, and not as a foundation of permanent union and happiness. The proposal, however, caught the attention, and acquired the approbation, of the Continent; and, within a short time, originated in peace, and through calm deliberation, the present American Constitution. This scheme of Government, soon after it was published, was generally adopted by the several States, and speedily commenced its operations. No event could have been more timely, more honourahle to our country, or more declarative of the superintendence of God. Other governments have usually
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been compelled by conquest, or hurried into being by civil war; ours was voluntarily formed by cool consultation and sober conviction, was the offspring of the general choices and the object of unextorted approbation.
UNDER this government we have enjoyed unexampled prosperity, and long continued peace; and might, it would seem, long possess these blessiings, if we could be contented to be happy, and would discern, in this our day, the things which belong to our peace, before they are hidden from our eyes.
IN the year 1700, there were one hundred and sixteen incorporated towns in New England, and probably about 8o,ooo inhabitants. There are now about eight hundred and sixty towns, and probably 1,200,000 people. In these towns there are not far from one thousand three hundred religious congregations, of different denominations of Christians. In Massachusetts and Connecicut there are, if I have numbered them accurately, one thousand and eight such congregations, of which seven hundred and forty nine are furnished with the preaching customary to the several classes. The emigrants from New England and their descendants, who have fettled in the other States, may be reckoned at half a million. The people of New England have therefore doubled, notwithstanding their almost incessant wars, within a little less than twenty three years, on an average. The whole number of original Colonies is computed at 20,000.
WITHIN New England, also, there are in all probability not less than four thousand schools ; in which about 130,000 children of both sexes, are continually educated. Seven Colleges are also erected in this country, of which the five, first established, usually contain about 700 students. The last year,
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upwards of 200 students were admitted into these five seminaries.
THE wealth of the New England States has much more rapidly increased than the number of inhabitants, and, since the existence of the present American Government, much more rapidly than at any former period. In proof of these assertions, if they can be supposed to need any proof, may be alleged the fences, the herds, the cultivation, the public and private buildings, the dress, the furniture, the mode of living, and the business, of the inhabitants. If we except Great Britain, we possess more than half the shipping, owned by any country in Europe. Our exports cannot be accurately estimated, because a large part of them is sent abroad from the port of New York; but those, which we directly convey to foreign countries, are very great. In the mean time it is probable, that abundance is more universally found in our houses, barns, and cellars, than in those of any other people. We do not, therefore, possess merely, but eminently enjoy, also, the bounties of Providence.
Health has usually existed here, in a degree, not often equalled, and perhaps never exceeded. In some towns it appears, by long continued registers of births and deaths, that one out of four and one out of five, extensively one out of six, and generally one out of seven, of those who are born live to seventy years of age; and that half, of those who are born, live to twenty years.
The internal peace of New England, the harmony of the inhabitants with each other, and with their government, has been almost uninterrupted. One considerable interruption has indeed existed for a short time, and only one; except such, as have been originated by those who were not inhabitants. The people of this country have appeared always to understand distinctly, what has most
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usually not been understood at all, the perfect consistency of being free and being governed.
The plenty, which I have mentioned, has in every period abounded here, with hardly an exception. A scarcity of food has been rarely known; a famine never. This plenty, and indeed the wealth generally, has been more equally distributed than in any other country, and as equally, as probably can be, amid the present unequal endowments, and exertions, of men. The number of public poor, it is presumed, is not greater than one, out of four hundred, of the inhabitants; a fact equally uncommon and delightful.
Public crimes at the same time have been few; and most of these have been committed by such, as were not natives. Law, except at the commencement of the Revolution, has not been interrupted for a moment by the choice of the citizens.
All these things, united, constitute a mass of blessings, rarely, if ever, seen in the present world. How great ought to be our gratitude to that glorious Being, who has so eminently distinguished us from the great body of mankind? Ought we not, with the enraptured Psalrnist, to say, "He hath not dealt so with any nation"?
Among the subjects, which claim a share of our attention on this day, the seminary of science, in which a considerable part of my audience have so intimate a personal interest, is clearly one. It was founded, so far as that term is predicable of the first donation made, in the year 1700. The first charter was given in October 1701, and the first public Commencement holden 1702. It was then, and for several years after, a mere wanderer from town to town, and was not finally settled in this place until the year 1717.
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Within the first thirty years after it was instituted there were graduated 217 students; which is exactly the number belonging to the four classes, at the beginning of the present year. Since that time, there have been graduated here 2562 persons; of whom 2326 were educated in this seminary. Of this number 136 have been advanced to the high offices of magistracy and government; and 786 have been ordained to the ministry of the Gospel; almost all of whom have been men of acknowledged piety and evangelical life. Great numbers have, in early life, been occupied by the instruction of youth; have, together with others, been afterwards members of our own and of other legislatures; have sat on the bench of justice; have usefully filled the professions of physic and law ; have sustained with reputation the inferior offices of magistracv; and have performed for their fellow citizens that immense variety of public business, which, without any appropriate name, exists every day, and in every place. The importance of this institution may easily be seen in these facts; particularly in this; that it has furnished the preaching of the Gospel, and the means of the regular public worship of God to seven hundred and sixty congregations, probably consisting of more than 6oo,ooo persons, who would not otherwise have enjoyed these blessings. Hence is evident the wisdom of our ancestors in founding the institution, and the goodness of GOD in giving it birth, and continuing and enlarging its prosperity.
The progress of knowledge, it will be supposed from the literary establishments, has been respectable; probably not inferior to the same progress in the enlightened countries of Europe. We are indeed far behind those countries in learning, and the speculative sciences. This, I apprehend, is no dishonor to our country. Great literary and scientifical attainments cannot be made without
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great leisure, as well as great talents and application. Such leisure is rarely found here; no ample literary foundations are furnished here for the support of ingenious and speculative men, in the pursuits of learning and science. No institutions exist, on which genius may undisturbed and secure, indulge itself in the field of mere learning, or mere science. All men, here, are, and must be, men of business, and take some active part in human affairs. The knowledge which qualifies for this, is imbibed by great multitudes to a respectable degree while the people at large are furnished wits information, it is believed, beyond those of any other country. A child of fourteen, who cannot read, write, and keep the customary accompts, is rarely met with ; and a great part of those, who arrive to adult years, read to a considerable extent.
THE religion of this country has exhibited a very commendable spirit of catholicism [ universal Willison ed. ] and moderation during the past Century, a spirit extended perhaps as far, as can be reasonably expected from men, and producing a general and happy harmony of sentiment and conduct. In no country, it is perfumed, can be found a more general decency and liberality of conduct in the various classes of religious towards each other. Indeed, the existing error appears to be a tendency, in many performs, towards what is emphatically called modern liberality; which is no other than mere indifference to truth and error, virtue and vice a more dangerous and fatal character than the most contemptible enthusiasm, or the most odious bigotry. Toleration, firmly understood, has no existence here; for all religious denominations are placed on the fame equal and independent ground. This, if it can be preserved, as there is hitherto much reason to believe, is certainly an improvement in human affairs, and ought to be regarded both as an honor, and a blessing, to our country.
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In the course of this period God has, in various instances, been pleased to revive his glorious work of sanctification, and to extend it through many parts of the land. I know that a number of men, and some of much respectability, have entertained unfavourable ideas of what are called revivals of religion; but I cannot help thinking their opinions of this subject rather formed in the closet than derived from facts, or warranted by the scriptures. Seasons of enthusiasm about various subjects have indeed often existed, and probably in every civilized country. In these seasons the human mind has not unfrequently exhibited many kinds and degrees of weakness, error, and deformity. Hence, perhaps, sober men have, in some instances, been led to believe that wherever enthusiasm exists these evils exist also. As therefore revivals of religion have frequently been more or less accompanied by enthusiasm, they have, I think without sufficient grounds, determined, that all which existed was enthusiasm, and that nothing would flow from it but these evils.
That the mind under the first clear, strong, and solemn views of its own sins should be deeply affected, and greatly agitated, is to be expected from the nature of man. He is always thus affected by the first strong view, taken of any object deeply interesting, and always thus agitated when such an object is seen in an uncertain, suspended state. No object can be so interesting, or more entirely suspended, than the state of the soul in the case specified.
When these emotions, thus excited by objects of such immense importance, and in so absolute a state of suspense, as the guilt, the condemnation, and the salvation, of an immortal mind, are attended with some degree of enthusiasm and extravagance;
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when they are followed by seasons of deep despondence, and successive transport; nothing, takes place, but that, which sound philosophy must presuppose; as similar emotions are in all similar cases, followed, especially in ardent minds, by the same consequences. All this, however, will go no length towards proving, that nothing exits beyond enthusiasm; and that, amid several irregular and excessive exertions of the mind, there is not to be found a real change of the disposition, a real assumption of piety. To me it is evident, that revivals of religion are often what they are called, if not always; and that the proof abundantly exists (where alone it ought to be looked for) in the real and permanent melioration of the moral character of multitudes, who then become serious and professedly religious.
Of the last of these revivals of religion, that which still extensively exists, it ought to be observed, that it has absolutely, or at least very nearly, been free from every extravagance. I speak not here to infidels, nor to libertines. All religion is extravagance, enthusiasm, and superstition, with them. But no man of common candour can hesitate to admit, that vice is not the only sober and rational fate of a moral being; and that impiety is an unhappy proof of real wisdom. In this great and auspicious event of which I have spoken, thousands have been already happily concerned, and thousands more will, it is hoped, hereafter claim a snare.
But, with the rest of mankind, we abused our blessings. Loose opinions and loose practices have found their place here also. The first considerable change in the religions character of the people of this country was accomplished by the war, which began in 1755. War is at least fatal to morals, as to life, or happiness. The officers and soldiers of the British armies,, then employed in
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this country, although probably as little corrupted as those of most armies, were yet loose patterns of opinion and conduct, and were unhappily copied by considerable numbers of our own countrymen, united with them in military life. These, on their return, spread the infection through those around them. Looser habits of thinking began then to be adopted, and were followed, as they always are, by looser conduct. The American war increased these evils. Peace had not, at the commencement, of this war, restored the purity of life, which existed before the preceding war. To the depravation sill remaining was added a long train of immoral doctrines and practices, which spread into every corner of the country. The profanation of the Sabbath, before unusual, profaneness of language, drunkenness, gambling, and lewdness, were exceedingly increased; and, what is less commonly remarked, but is perhaps not less mischievous, than any of them, a light, vain method of thinking, concerning sacred things, a cold, contemptuous indifference toward every moral and religious subject. In the mean time, that enormous evil, a depreciating currency gave birth to a new spirit of fraud, and opened numerous temptations, and a boundless field for its operations; while a new and intimate correspondence with corrupted foreigners introduced a multiplicity of loose doctrines, which were greedily embraced by licentious men, as the means of palliating and justifying their fins.
At this period Infidelity. [ The so-called Enlightenment's "Age of Reason", which specifically denied as possible Revelation from a Divine source specifically, the Bible, Willison ed. ] began to obtain, in this country, an extensive currency and reception. As this subject constitutes far the most interesting and prominent character of the past Century, It will not be amiss to exhibit it with some degree of minuteness, and to trace through several particulars the steps of its progress.
INFIDELITY has been frequently supposed to be founded on an apprehended deficiency of the
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evidence, which supports a divine Revelation. No opinion can be more erroneous than this. That solitary instances may have existed, in which men did not believe the scriptures to be the word of God, because they doubted of the evidence in their possession, I am ready to admit; but that this has been the common fact, is, at least, in my view, a dear impossibility.
Our Saviour informs us, that " This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds-were evil: "and subjoins, that "he who doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." Here one of the two great causes of Infidelity is distinctly and exactlly alleged, viz. The corruption of a heart, which loves sin, and dreads the punishment of it, to that truth, which,‘with infinite authority, and under an immense penalty, demands of all men a holy life. The other great cause of Infidelity is frequently mentioned by the inspired writers, particularly St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. Jude. In the following passages of St. Peter it is exhibited with peculiar force. "For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, them that were clean escaped from them, that live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants (bond-slaves) of corruption." "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying; "Where is the promise of his coming? for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
The Infidels, here referred to, are plainly philosophists; the authors of vain and deceitful philosophy; of Science falsely so called; always full of vanity in their discoveries: Scoffers. walking after their own lusts, and alluring others, through the same
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lusts, to follow them; promising them liberty, as their reward, and yet being themselves, and making their disciples, the lowest and most wretched of all slaves, the slaves of corruption. Philosophical pride, and the love of sinning in security and peace, are, therefore, the two great causes of Infidelity, according to the scriptures.
A more exact account of this subject, as existing in fact, could not even now be given. Infidelity has been assumed because it was loved, and not because it was supported by evidence; and has been maintained and defended, to quiet the mind in sin, and to indulge the pride of talents and speculation.
The form, which it has received, has varied in the hands of almost every distinguished Infidel. It was first Deism, or natural Religion, then mere Unbelief, then Animalism, then Scepticism, then partial, and then total Atheism. Yet it has, in three things at least, preserved a general consistency; opposition to Christianity, devotion to sin and lust, and a pompous profession of love to Liberty. To a candid and logical opposition to Christianity, consisting of facts fairly stated and justly exhibited, no reasonable objection can be made. It is to be wished, that this had been the conduct of the opposition actually made; but nothing has been more unlike that conduct. The war has been the desultory attack of a barbarian, not of a civilized soldier; an onset of passion, pride, and wit; a feint of conjectures and falsified facts; an incursion of sneers, jests, gross banter, and delicate ridicule; a parade of hints and insinuations; and a vigorous assault on fancy, passion, and appetite. These were never the weapons of sober conviction; this was never the conduct of honest men.
In the earlier periods of this controversy there were, however, more frequent efforts at argumentation, on the part of Infidels. For the last twenty
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or thirty years they seem to have despaired of success in this field, and have betaken themse1ves to that of action and influence. In this field they have wrought with a success totally unprecedented. Nor is this at all to be wondered at, if we consider the opportunity of succeeding presented to them, during the latter half of the last Century, by the state of society in Europe. The excessive wealth of that division of the eastern Continent has generated an enormous luxury, the multiplied enjoyments of which have become not only the ruling objects of desire, and the governing motives of action, but, in the view of a great part of the inhabitants, the necessary means of even a comfortable existence. On these life is employed, ambition fastened, ardour exhausted, and energy spent. Voluptuousness and splendour, formed on the Asiatic scale, engross men in public and private stations, in the university, the camp, the shop, and the desk, as well as the court and the cabinet. To glitter with diamonds, to roll in pomp, to feast on dainties, to wanton in amusements, to build palaces, and to fashion wildernesses of pleasure, are the supreme objects of millions, apparently destined to the grave, still, and humble walks of life, as well as of those, who were high born, and highly endowed. Science toils, ingenuity is stretched on the rack, and art is wearied through all her refinements, to satisfy the universal demand for pleasure; the mines of Golconda are ransacked, the caverns of Mexico emptied, and the mountains of Potosi transported across the ocean.
Or this universal devotion to pleasure and shew, modern Infidels have availed themselves to the utmost. To a mind, to a nation, dissolved in sloth, enervated by pleasure, and fascinated with splendour, the Gospel is preached, and heaven presented, in vain. The eye is closed, the ear stopped, and the heart rendered gross and incapable of healing
[ 23 ]
The soul is of course, unconscious of danger, impatient of restraint, and insensible to the demands of moral obligation. It is, therefore, prepared to become an Infidel, without research, and without conviction. Hence, more sagacious than their predecessors, the later Infidels have neither laboured, nor wished, to convince the understanding, but have bent all their efforts to engross the heart.
In the mean time other events, highly favourable to their designs, have taken place both in America and Europe. The American Revolution, an august, solemn, and most interesting spectacle, drew towards it at this time the eyes of mankind. The novelty of the scene, the enchanting sound of Liberty, to which the pulse of man instinctively beats, the sympathy ever excited for the feebler and suffering party, embarked deeply in the American cause a great part of the civilized world. Benevolent men, of all countries, hoped, when the contest was ended prosperously for us, and ardent men boldly pronounced, that a new era had arrived in human things, that the "iron rod of the oppressor was broken," and that "the oppressed would soon be universally set free."
AMONG the agents in the American Revolution, were many natives of France; men, in numerous instances, of ardent minds, and daring speculations; who either imbibed here new sentiments of liberty, or ripened those, which they had already adopted at home. These men, returning to their own country, diffused extensively the enthusiasm, which they had cherished here, and thus hastened the crisis, to which France was otherwise approaching.
Long before this period, even so early as the year 1713, the publication of the bull Unigenitus had thrown this kingdom into a flame. Two immense parties were formed by the attempts to
[ 24 ]
execute this edict, which in the end involved the whole nation. At the head of one of these was the King, seconded by the great body of the Clergy, at the head of the other was the parliament of Paris, and the provincial parliaments, supported by the great body of the people. Throughout the progress of this controversy the parliaments and the people gained ground on the royal authority and the power of the Clergy; and, what was of more importance, they found in their success full assurance of future victories. Future attacks on the crown and on the Clergy were encouraged, because these had succeeded, and Infidels were too sagacious not to avail themselves of this important discovery. Their own cause they now artfully, and with complete success, blended with that of liberty; and, although the union was unnatural and monstrous, yet they were easily able to prevent this fact from being discerned, even by some sagacious eyes, during the moment of popular phrenzy.
This junction was clearly the most politic single step, which they have ever taken. The idea was not indeed new ; the Infidel writers of the last Century declaimed largely on this subject; but by the sober manners and firm establishments of that period they were wholly prevented from seeing their wishes realized. Near the close of the succeeding Century, however, the enervation of the hierarchy, the corruption of courts, the dissolution of morals, the enthusiasm generated by the American Revolution, and the hopes of vanquishing again kingly power in France, stimulated in their successors new ardour, and promised them complete success.
To these things ought to be added the publication of various latitudinarian doctrines of religion, in most countries of Europe. These doctrines, by lowering the spirit of the Bible to the corrupt taste of man, lessening the distinction between
[ 25 ]
virtue and vice, and rendering. the terms of salvation .convenient, lowered also, in the view of those who listened to them, the dignity of the scriptures, and the importance of christianity. In the eye of such men religion degenerated into mere decency; and to become acceptable to God, nothing more was felt, or mistrusted, to be necessary, than to be agreeable to men. All these persons were in fact become Infidels without knowing it, and, when they renounced the scriptures entirely, were conscious of no change of character.
The door thus opened, Infidels entered in mass, and laboured with a zeal, activity, and perseverance, unrivalled since the days of the apostles. In every possible instance they possessed themselves of every office of honour and power, of instruction and influence; secured the literary society and the secret club, engrossed the press and the stage, debauched the prince and the peasant, the noble and the ecclesiastic, deceived the aged, and ensnared the young. The authority of the monarch, the address of the courtier, the gravity of the apostate divine, and the abstract jugglery of the sophist, the mysterious trade of the book seller, and the humble lessons of the school master, were all employed to support, to spread, and to rivet Infidelity.
Their writers have been no less assiduous and persevering. A part of their labours has been presented to the world under the form of new systems of philosophy; which, if believed, are utterly subversive of christianity, but in which no direct attack is made on christianity. These, though ushered into public view with great pomp and solemnity, have been mere theories of the closet; often ingenious, but always unsupported by fact or evidence. The terms employed in them are so wholly abstract, and the phraseology so mysterious and perplexed, that the reader, engaged by the ingenuity
[ 26 ]
of the writer, is lost in a mist of doubtful expressions and unsettled sentiments. His faith is constantly solicited to gravely described dreams; and his eye is required to fix on the form of a cloud varying its shape through every moment of his inspection. From the highway of common sense he is invited into bye paths where indeed nothing worthy of his curiosity is ever seen, but where, he is continually informed, something, of vast importance is in the end to be seen. Whatever he reads is uttered with the gravity and confidence of superiour wisdom, and an imposing air of mystery, and with continual hints of something, immensely important, in due time to be revealed. Thus he wanders on, a dupe to artfully excited expectation, and lose himself in "a wilderness, where there is no way." He is not informed, but allured; not convinced, but perplexed; yet he is often, perhaps usually, by his own curiosity, pride, and self-consistency, and by the doubt and ridicule artfully thrown in against Revelation, so thoroughly estranged from truth and virtue as never to return. To ruin in this way are surely led most readers, of a particular class, and that a numerous one; readers, pleased with reasoning extended to a certain degree, and conducted with a due mixture of brilliancy; readers, fond of novelty, and esteeming singularity of thought a proof of superiour understanding.
This is, however, has been but one,. and that a very partial object of their reliance. Their writings have assumed every form, and treated every subject of thought. From the lofty philosophical discourse it has descended through all the intervening gradations to the news-paper paragraph ; from the sermon to the catechism; from regular history to the anecdote; from the epic poem to the song; and from the formal satire to the jest of the buffoon. Efforts in vast numbers have also been made to diffuse Infidelity in a remark, unexpectedly found in a discourse, when a totally different subject was under
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consideration, in a note, subjoined to a paper on criticism or politics, in a hint, in a book of travels; or a stroke, in a letter of civility. In these and the like cases the reader was intended to be taken by surprise, and to yield his judgment before he was aware, that he was called to judge. The number and variety of the efforts have also been increased beyond example; have poured from innumerable presses, and from all civilized countries; have been sold at the lowest prices, and given gratuitously; and have been circulated with vast industry, and by innumerable hands, throughout christendom. The intention of this amazing multitude of exertions has plainly been to astonish and discourage their adversaries, to amaze and overwhelm their readers, and to persuade, insensibly, the mass of mankind, that the world was converted to Infidelity.
BUT the pen has been a far less important and successful instrument, than action and influence. This has been exerted with immense vigour, employed in every place, and addressed to every mind. In consequence of the prospects of triumph opened to them, during the latter part of the Century under consideration, they loudly proclaimed themselves the champions of liberty, and the friends of persecuted man. No knight-errant ever offered himself to an affrighted damsel with more generosity, as her protector, than they to the human race. The common people, never honoured by Voltaire with any higher title than the rabble, or the mob, yet as they possessed the physical strength of man suddenly beheld the these philanthropic gentlemen, starting up in the form of their guardians and foster fathers, and volunteering in the humane employment of vindicating their wrongs and asserting their rights. The tale, which in the mind of every sober man awakened no emotions but inclination and contempt, routed, nevertheless, in the feelings of the ignorant, the ardent, and the enthusiastic, a
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phrenzied expectation of good,. unknown indeed, but certain and immense. An universal thrill was felt, a millennium seen already dawning in the horizon. All the weak, the tender, the doubting, the boding, the eager, the daring, passions of the human mind were now attacked, successive]y, by the persuasion of eloquence, the stings of ridicule, the parade of argument, the alarm of danger, the hope of safety, and the promise of reward.
IN this great moral convulsion Royalty and Christianity sunk in the kingdom of France. Emboldened beyond every fear by this astonishing event, Infidelity, which anciently had hid behind a mask, walked forth in open day, and displayed her genuine features to the sun. Without a blush she now denied the existence of moral obligation, annihilated the distinction between virtue and vice, challenged and authorized the indulgence of every lust, trode down the barriers of truth, perjured herself daily in the sight of the universe, lifted up her front in the face of heaven, denied the being, and dared the thunder, of the Almighty. Virtue and truth, her native enemies, and the objects of all her real hatred, she hunted from every cell and solitude; and, whenever they escaped her fangs; she followed them with the execrations of malice, the finger of derision, and the hisses of infamy.
ELEVATED now, for the first time to the chair of dominion, she ushered forth her edicts with the gravity of deliberation and the authority of law, and executed them by the oppressive hand of the jailor, the axe of the executioner, and the sword of the warrior. All rights fell before her, all interests were blared by her breath, and happiness and hope were together swept away by her besom of destruction.
In the midst of all this effrontery, Infidels forgot not their arts and impositions. As occasion
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dictated, or ingenuity whispered, they availed themselves of every disguise, and of every persuasive. As if they had designed to give the last wound to virtue, they assumed all her titles and challenged all her attributes to their own conduct. Daily forsworn, and laughing at the very distinction between right and wrong, they proclaimed themselves the assertors of justice, and the champions of truth. While they converted a realm into a Bastile, they trumpeted their inviolable attachment to liberty; while they "cursed their GOD, and looked upward," they announced themselves worshippers of the Supreme Being. With a little finger, thicker than the loins of both the monarchy and the hierarchy, encircled with three millions of corpses, and in the center of a kingdom changed into a stall of slaughter, they hung themselves over with labels of philanthropy. Nay, they have far outgone all this. Two of their philosophers, independently of each other, have declared, that, to establish their favourite system, the sacrifiec of all the existing race of man would be a cheap price: an illustrious instance of Infidel benevolence, and of the excellence of their darling maxim, that "the end sanctifies the means.
THESE, however, are but a small portion of their arts. They have, as the state of things required, disguised their designs; disavowed them; doubted their existence; wondered at those, who believed them real; ridiculed the belief; and professed themselves amazed at such credulity. This conduct has been even reduced to a system, and taught and enjoined on their followers, as a code of policy, and as being often the most effectual means of spreading their opinions.
NOR have they less frequently resorted to the aid of obscure, unsuspected, and apparently undesigned communication., Their doctrines have, with great success, been propagated by remote hints;
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by soft and gentle insinuations; by half started doubts, and half proposed objections; and by the suggestion of a train of thoughts in which those doctrines are taken for granted, and considered as being so plain, and so generally received, that no person can be imagined to disbelieve, or even to doubt. The reader himself is presupposed to have long since admitted them, as the only doctrines of truth or common sense; as being too rational and candid to hesitate about things so clear and acknowledged; as unquestionably lifted above the reception of the contrary pitiful absurdities and as thus prepared to act as all other sensible and liberal persons have already acted. Thus their opinions steal upon his mind in methods equally unsuspected and imposing.
THE world, in the mean time, is exhibited as having long agreed in admitting them without a question; particularly all the learned, ingenious, and respectable. Those, who dissent, are the mere canaille, the refuse of mankind; a contemptible, ignorant, bigoted set of superstitious wretches, holden in shameful bondage by another set of mercenary and despicable priests, leagued from the beginning to deceive and fleece their fellow men. Themselves, and their friends, are exhibited, at the same time, as the only people, with whom truth, wisdom and benevolence, live and die; the happy few, on whom partial Nature has bestowed Benjamin’s portion of talents, taste, and virtue.
* It ought by no means to be forgotten, that Infidelity has been formed into a regular school, in which, with unprecedented efforts, the young, the Ingenious, the unwary, and the licentious, have, through a series of solemn gradations, been esnared, initiated, and entangled, beyond a hope, or wish to escape. To these has been formally committed the world of demoralizing mankind; and all that art can devise, ingenuity suggest, or patience model,
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to render mischief palatable, efficacious, and sure, and destruction inviting, and inevitable, has been taught by laborious education, fixed by habit, and enforced by every motive, which can influence the ambition, the fears, and the hopes of men. Thus a seminary has been formed for sin, and a train of unhappy beings, educated for evil only, have issued forth in the character, with the feelings, and for the purposes, of fiends, to destroy truth and virtue, to spread falsehood and iniquity, and to plunge a world in ruin.
As action is declared to be the great mean of propagating Infidelity, and reasoning acknowledged to be insufficient, it is accordingly communicated by the fireside, in the season of convivial relaxation, in the private and social meeting, in the street, in the thoughtless, unguarded, and susceptible hour, in the moment of danger, of terror, of hope, of high stimulation, and of exquisite exposure.
THOSE, who spread the poison, are also taught to assume, and put off; any character at pleasure; and to wear that only, which may suit the occasion, and please the company. They are occasionally christians, philosophers, scholars, warriors, plain men, men of pleasure, travellers, men of business, and men of idleness; are of any party and of no party; and assert and deny, espouse and oppose, any doctrine, and any cause; changing their colour even while the eye is fixed on them, and assuming new hues from every new object which attracts their attention.
In all these and the like forms, Infidelity has been seasoned and served up; in all these and the like methods, it is insinuated, urged, and forced, on mankind. To these things ought to be added, that the magic of the pencil, the skill of the architect, the chisel of the sculptor, the gaiety of public festivals, the pomp of processions, the splendor
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and fascination of the theatre, and the all commanding power of fashion, have been engaged, and engrossed, to adorn, to solemnize, and to impress on every mind, the sentiments of Infidelity. Even the fair sex, whose intercourse and elegance of mind have so exceedingly refined and improved men, are embarked in the great business of corruption, and lend their wit, their accomplishments, and their persons, to promote the ruin of human society.
SUCH is the astonishing slate of moral things, in several parts of Europe, which, within a short time, has opened upon the view of our countrymen. The strong sympathy which, unhappily, and on no rational grounds, prevailed here towards those, who were leaders in the French Revolution, and towards the Revolution itself, prepared us to become the miserable dupes of their principles and declarations. They were viewed merely as human beings, embarked deeply in the glorious cause of liberty; and not at all as infidels, as the abettors of falsehood, and the enemies of Righteousness, of truth, and of God. Hence all their concerns were felt, and all their conduct covered with the veil of charity. They were viewed as having adventured, and suffered, together with ourselves, and as now enlisted for the support of a kindred cause. The consequences of these prejudices were such, as would naturally be expected. A general and unexampled confidence was soon felt, and manifested, by every licentious man. Every Infidel, particularly, claimed a new importance, and treated religion with enhanced contempt. The graver ones, indeed, through an affected tenderness for the votaries of christianity, adopted a more decent manner of despising it; but all were secure of a triumph, and satisfied, that talents, character, and the great world, were on their fide. The young, the ardent, the ambitious, and the voluptuous, were irresistibly solicited to join a cause, which harmonized with all their corruptions,
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pointed out the certain road to reputation, and administered the necessary opiates to conscience; and could not refuse to unite themselves with men, who spoke great swelling words of vanity, who allured them through much wantonness, and promised them the unbounded liberty of indulging every propensity to pleasure. The timid at the same time were terrified, the orderly let loose, the sober amazed, and the religious shocked beyond example; while the floating part of our countrymen, accustomed to swim with every tide, moved onward in obedience to the impulse. Thus principles were yielded, useful habits were relaxed, and a new degree of irreligion extensively prevailed.
HAPPILY for us, the source, whence these peculiar evils flowed, furnished us in some degree with a remedy. It was soon discovered, that the liberty of Infidels was not the liberty of New England; that France, instead of being free, merely changed through a series of tyrannies, at the side of which all former despotisms whitened into moderation and humanity; and that of the immeasurable evils; under which the and her neighbours agonized, Infidelity was the genuine source; the Vesuvius, from whose mouth issued those rivers of destruction, which deluged and ruined all things in their way. It was seen, that man, unrestrained by law and religion, is a mere beast of prey; that licentiousness, although adorned with the graceful name of liberty, is yet the spring of continual alarm, bondage, and misery; and that the restraints, imposed by equitable laws, and by the religion of the scriptures, were far less burthensome and distressing than the boasted freedom of Infidels.
EVEN sober Infidels began to be alarmed for their own peace, safety, and enjoyments; and to wish that other men might continue still to be christians; while christians saw with horror
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GOD denied, their Saviour blasphemed, and way formally declared against Heaven.
To all this was added a complete development of the base and villainous designs of the French government against our country, their piratical p1under of our property, and their inhuman treatment of our seamen. Persons, who thought nothing, who felt nothing, concerning religion, felt these things exquisitely; and rationally concluded, that men, who could do these things, could, and would, do every thing else, that was evil and unjust; and that their moral principles, which produced, and fashioned, these crimes, could not fail to merit contempt and detestation. Such persons, therefore, began now to lean towards the side of christianity, and to seek in. it a safety and peace which they, beheld Infidelity destroy. [Italics added, Willison ed.]
THUS having in the midst of these enormous dangers attained help of God, we continue until the present time; and this part of our country, at least, has escaped only tributary bondage, but the infinitely more dreadful bondage of Infidelity, corruption, and moral ruin.
IT ought, here, and forever, to be remembered with peculiar gratitude that God has, during the past Century, often and wonderfully interposed in our behalf, and snatched us from the jaws of approaching destruction. The influences of this interposition are too numerous to be now reconsidered, and are happily too extraordinary to be either unknown or forgotten. We have been frequently on the brink of destruction; but although cast down, we have not been destroyed. Perhaps we have so often been, and are still,, suffered to stand on this precipice, that we may see, and feel, and acknowledge, the hand of our Preserver.
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In such a period as the present, when the state of society is disturbed,: when the minds of men are so generally set afloat, and when so many ancient landmarks, so many standards of opinion and practice, are thrown down; when ambition, avarice, and sensuality, deliberate and decree and violence and cruelty are charged with the execution, through out a great part of the civilized world; a contemplative and serious mind cannot but ask; What shall the end of these things be?
To such a mind it may prove an important consolation, to know, that all these evils have been foretold by Omniscience, and that they cannot extend beyond the Divine permission. The present time is, at least in my view, distinctly marked out in prophecy, as a time of singular deception, sin, and hostility against religion and against its author. In exact accordance with Revelation, spirits of singular falsehood, foulness, pertinacity, and impudence, have issued from the mouth of the Dragon, or secular persecuting power, of the Beast, or ecclesiastical persecuting power, from which the Church of Christ has suffered so intensely, and so long, and of the False Prophet, the great minister of this persecution, and the great enforcer of the edicts of these monstrous tyrannies. That these two persecuting powers are in the view of the Scriptures wholly united, and that they entirely cooperate, cannot, I think, be reasonably questioned. Both of them are described as having seven heads, and ten horns. From the angel interpreter we know, that the seven heads are the seven mountains of Rome, the great City which at that time reigned with undivided empire over the kingdoms of the earth; and that the ten horns are the ten kingdoms, into which that empire was finally divided. Those spirits, therefore, that is, the false teachers designated by them, were to spring, as they have sprung from Antichristian ground.
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ON the subject of Antichrist some things appear to me to need further explanation. It has been commonly taught, that., the, Roman Pontiff, or perhaps more commonly the Romish Hierarchy, is the Antichrist. This, I think, cannot be admitted without some qualification.. As the opposer of Christ by way of eminence, (the meaning of the original, word) this application of the term may be warranted, whether to the Pontiff, or to the Hierarchy. It has not, I believe, been usually, and with sufficient deference, remembered, that St. John, to whom we are indebted for the word, has also given us its meaning. This apostle informs us, that there are many Antichrists, and that some of them were in being, when he wrote, and that the Antichrist is He, who denieth, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. As this interpretation is given by the spirit of GOD, it must, of course, be implicitly admitted by Christians. But, no man can refuse to acknowledge, that, according to this interpretation, the name, antichrist, is far more justly applied to the collective body of modern Infidels, than either to the Romish Hierarchy, or to the Head of it.— Neither of these ever denied, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, unless by distant implication; but this is the prime doctrine of every modern Infidel.
The Romish Hierarchy, or ecclesiastical persecuting power already mentioned, is exhibited in the scriptures under various names; as the Beast, the Man of sin, the Son of perdition, and the Wicked, or rather the Lawless One. Each of these names is intended to denote some particular characteristic of this power. Thus the Beast directly exhibits its ferocious, sanguinary, or persecuting character; the Man of sin its preeminent wickedness; the Son of perdition its certain destination to singular perdition; and the Lawless One its distinguished refusal to being restrained by the laws of either GOD or man
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ALL these terms, it is evident; are in a high degree general, and of course are descriptive of an immense collection of mankind, distant in times and places, existing through many ages and inhibiting many countries. The hierarchy is formed not only of all,, who directly exercise the power denoted by it but also of all, who under its dominion contribute, by their union with the system, and by their physical strength, to the continuance of its being, and the furtherance of its designs : In other words, all, who in any, particularly in Romish countries, through every age of its duration, unite in opposition to true religion, and in the persecution of its votaries. It is manifest, that, in some periods, and in some countries, one or more of there characters of this power will prevail; in other periods, and in other countries, other characters will prevail. This, we also know, has been the fact. At such times, and in such places, the particular names, which denote such characters, are plainly to be especially applied to those, who live in them. The predictions, denoted by these names, are then eminently fulfilled. Nor will it make any difference in the justness of the application, or the fulfillment of the prediction, whether the original form of the opposition and persecution be pursued, or a new one. The great design, the general conduct, is plainly the thing, aimed at in prophecy, and so long as this is pursued, the particular form is of no importance.
If then the Pontiff were never more to exist; the Hierarchy should perish; and yet the same general design of opposing true religion, and persecuting its votaries, should be continued by other hands, and should grow out of the original system, so as to be a mere prolongation of the same conduct and purpose, in a different mode; we are not only warranted, but necessitated, by all the rules of correct interpretation, to consider the prophecy as
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involving, in the most complete manner,, this part, or continuation, of the general system.
THE present opposition of Infidels in. Europe to true religion, and their persecution of its votaries, is a mere continuation of the general system, begun by then Hierarchy in distant ages. It has arisen, and been exercised, on the same ground, by the descendants of the original and most distinguished persecutors; it has sprung from the same spirit, been regulated by the same policy, is the same design, and has been pursued with the lam; and even greater, zeal and cruelty. *
IN conformity with the sentiments, already specified, it may justly be observed, that to the Infidels, who have arisen out of this system, and who have cooperated with this great design, may without a reasonable doubt, .and with singular propriety, be applied the name of the Lawless One.; as beyond example lawless, and spurning at every restraint from God, or man. Their coming, also, is preeminently with all deceivableness (or deceit) of unrighteousness; they and all their converts are plainly the subjects of strong judicial delusion; since they have eagerly believed a lie, and enjoyed pleasure in unrighteousness.
IN the same evident manner it appears, that no times could ever with so much propriety be called perilous times, as the present times. Never were men so entirely lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy; without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. † In contemplating this amazing complication of falsehood, sin, and misery, it is a strong consolation
* See Note B.
† 2 Tim. 3 Chap.
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to every good man1, to know, that the Lord shall destroy this Wicked, or Lawless One, this wonderful system of evil, with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his appearing.
THIS destruction, we are informed,, was to proceed, and we see it has begun to proceed, out of the bowels of the system. The kings or states, into, which the secular persecuting power was divided, have begun to hate the Whore, to eat her flesh, and to burn her with fire. The ecclesiastical persecuting power is in a fair way to be soon destroyed. The secular persecuting power is rapidly wasting itself, and that not the less because, of the present splendour of one of its constituent parts. The reign of the spirits of deceit is exhibited in prophecy, as short, and the coming of Christ to destroy them, as sudden, unexpected, and dreadful. The waste of mankind, and the destruction of happiness in Catholic countries, have already exceeded all example, and outstripped all calculation. The deception of the kings, that is, the kingdoms, or states, of the earth has already resembled a prodigy; and the hostilities against Almighty GOD have already tortured human belief. Principles and conduct, like these, cannot be of long duration.; they would empty the earth of mankind, and. lay the world in ruins; yet some time must doubtless elapse before this abomination of desolation shall be finished.
AN end however will arrive. Let us turn our eyes from this Arabian desart, where no fountains of consolation flow, and no moral verdure springs to cheer the weary traveller, and explore regions of a brighter aspect, and seasons of a more delightful character. The time will arrive, when the creator of all things will be acknowledged and loved, and the Redeemer of mankind, believed and obeyed. Falsehood will not always be preferred to truth, nor sin to holiness. The period is on the wing in which
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"the knowledge of the LORD shall fill the earth, as the waters fill the sea;" and in which "holiness to the LORD shall be written" on all the pursuits and enjoyments of mankind. " The LORD of Hosts will, one day, make unto all people a, feast of fat things full of martrw, a feast of wines on the lees well refined. He will destroy the face of the covering, that is cast over all people, and the vail ; that is spread over all nations; will wipe away tears from all faces, and take away the reproach of his people from all the earth." Another sun, rolling around the great Centurial year will, not improbably, have scarcely finished his progress, when he shall see the Jew "no more haughty because of the holy mountain," but "reingrafted into the olive, from which he was broken off." "The standard Shall be exalted, the ensign shall be set up, to which the outcasts of Israel shall gather, and the dispersed of Judah assemble, from the four corners of the earth." "The reception of them" into the kingdom of Christ "shall prove" to all nations "as life from the dead ;" as a general resurrection from the grave. There is now indeed, and for some time may continue to be, "a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of the nations gathered together, because the LORD of Hosts mustereth the host to the battle." "Nation now rises against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." "Great earthquakes" have existed "in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights, and great signs from heaven; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring: Men’s. hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which shall shortly come upon the earth."
LET us still " in patience possess our souls;" yet a little while, and the indignation shall be overpast." "The Church of GOD shall soon "awake and put on strength and be clothed with beautiful
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garments:" "Peace shall then be extended to her as a river, and the glory of the Gentiles as a flowing stream." "A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation." "The Name and the Praise of GOD," the acknowledgment of the Redeemer, and the " faith, baptism, and worship," of his followers, "Shall be one, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same." "and the Canaanite Shall no more be found in the house of the LORD of Hosts."
IN that day, " the iron rod of the oppressor shall be broken," "the confused noise of the battle of the warrior cease," "the haughtiness of man shall be brought down; the lowly Shall be exalted;" and the LORD of Hosts will be a strength to the poor; a strength to the needy in his distress."— " Darkness shall then be no more put for light nor light for darkness;" the lantern of visionary philosophy shall cease to lead mankind astray from the highway of holiness; the scriptures "shall be their everlasting light, and the Author of them their glory."
BUT while we look forward with faith, consolation, and transport, to rising periods of order, peace. and safety; in which truth shall triumph, justice preside over the concerns of’ men, and mercy pity and assuage the sufferings of this agonizing world; while we foresees seasons of general happiness and universal virtue, a vernal growth of moral beauty, and an autumnal harvest of converts to holiness; while the eye travels onward through a new era in the universe of man, and beholds a rebellious world voluntarily resuming its allegiance to the Creator, the great family of Adam acknowledged as the children, GOD declaring himself the common Father, and the earth confessedly the temple, in which he is loved, obeyed, and worshipped; we cannot fail to revert to the " troublous times,".
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which are now revolving. The soul irresistibly returns, to survey the sins and errors, which rage around us, the temptations which alarm, ensnare, and seduce, and the miseries which are resounded from a suffering world. In this situation it instinctively asks, How shall these evils be averted from ourselves and ours?
THIS question is now in truth asked, with strong emotions, and many forebodings, by the great Body of people in New England; and is felt to involve the peace, freedom, and safety, the morals, religion, and immortal welfare, of themselves and their children. The mind is awake, the heart is alarmed anxiety is on the wing, and the spirit of foreboding looks through the eye with melancholy suspense and agitation. Suffer me then in the indulgence of imagination to assemble here this vast multitude, to view them as already gathered around me, and to address to them, as to you, an answer to this solemn enquiry.
My Friends and Brethren:
In all the changes, has the changes, which have befallen our native Country, the interpositions of divine providence in its behalf have been wonderful. Think, if you are at a loss on this subject of the manner, in which GOD bare your fathers to this land on eagles wings, and kept them in the hollow of his hand. Recall their numerous deliverances from the savages, and from the more bitter enemies who spurred those savages to war and slaughter. Remember their wonderful preservation from the armament of Chebucto, completed on the night of that solemn day, when with fasting and supplication they lifted up their united hands to implore the salvation of their God. Who gave the artillery of your enemies into the hands of Manly ; and their ammunition into those of Mugford ? Who surrendered to you the army of Burgoyne ? Who in spite of pretended friends,
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more malignant than open enemies, established on solid grounds your independence and your peace; and Set your feet in a broad place; a possession rich, secure, and immense,? Who has filled your veins with health, and your garners with all manner of store? Who has filled your land with ceiled houses, adorned it with schools, and enlightened it with innumerable churches?
A WORK thus begun, and thus carried on, is its own proof, that it will not be relinquished. We may be scourged, for we merit it, but I trust we shall not be forsaken; we may be cast down, but we shall not be destroyed. The present unusual and glorious prevalence of religion is the hand of GOD, writing on the wall, that we are not yet numbered and finished. [ Bold face added for emphasis, Willison ed.]
WOULD you then be safe, while all nations are sifted with the sieve of vanity; would you hide in secret chambers until the indignation be overpast; Learn your duty, and your safety, in the memorable advice of Jehoshaphat, the illustrious prince of Judah, to his own people, in a season of more immediate peril Believe on the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets,so shall ye prosper."
Your ancestors, who preeminently obeyed this council, and found the promise daily verified to them, who leaned alway on the arm of God, and walked in the sunshine of the scriptures, laid here such foundations of human happiness, under his guidance, as were probably never laid elsewhere. In their establishment of rational freedom, just government, and perfect order, in their schools and their colleges, their churches and their worship, their exemplary life and their fervent prayers, they left a glorious inheritance to you. On this stock you have lived, and become rich; and the fund, though
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impaired by waste and negligence, is still large. Wantonly squandered, it may indeed vanish in a year; but, carefully husbanded, it will last for ages. Would you provide for your children, as they provided for you; would you secure the favor and blessings of God; would you escape the woes, denounced and executed on an unbelieving and profligate world; imbibe their spirit, and follow their example.
AT the fireside, in the street, in the court of justice, and in the legislature, be, and be seen to be, the friends and followers of GOD. Let your conversation be such as becometh godliness; your example adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour; your judicial distributions be distributions of righteousness and mercy; and your laws uphold and strengthen religion and virtue, and break down the barriers, and lay open the retreats, of vice and impiety. From the dawn of life let your children be taught, both in the family and the school, to fear GOD, to trust the Redeemer, to hate iniquity, and to do that which is good. Teach them to read, to love, and to obey the scriptures; to reverence magistrates; to rise up to the hoary [ gray headed person, Willison ed. ] head; to venerate the sabbath; and to worship in the sanctuary. For this end, esteem, and shew them that you esteem, the sabbath a delight, and the Holy of the Lord honourable; and let them see that you turn away your feel from finding your own pleasure on that day. Them that honour me, saith GOD, I will honour; but whoso despiseth me shall be lightly esteemed.
IN your daily inter[actions], recall the probity, fairness, and good will of your forefathers; their enlarged charity to the poor, the sick, and the friendless; and their principled respect and obedience to the laws of the land. Unlearn, yourselves, and unteach your children, the senseless doctrines, that no man is honest; that office makes an honest man a villain; that men, whom you have long and
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thoroughly tried and approved, are for that very reason to be marked with jealousy, and hunted with slander. Remember, that it is equally a sin, and a shame, a debasement of common sense, and an insult to God, to speak evil, without cause, against the Rulers of your people; and cease to believe it an easy, or probable, thing for those rulers to oppress you, when the same laws must equally oppress them selves.
In the mean time, let me solemnly warn you, that if you intend to accomplish any thing, if you mean not to labour in vain, and to spend your strength for nought, you must take your side. There can be here no halting between two opinions. You must marshal yourselves, finally, in your own defense, and in the defense of all that is dear to you. You must meet face to face the bands of disorder, of falsehood, and of sin. Between them and you there is, there can be, no natural, real, or lasting harmony. What communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath, Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believetb with an Infidel? From a connection with them what can you gain? What will you not lose? Their neighbourhood is contagious; their friendship is a blast; their communion is death. Will you imbibe their principles? Will you copy their practices ? Will you teach your children, that death is an eternal sleep? that the end sanctifies the means ? that moral obligation is a dream? Religion a farce? and your Saviour the spurious offspring of pollution? Will you send your daughters abroad in the attire of a female Greek? Will you enroll your sons as conscripts for plunder and butchery? Will you, make marriage the mockery of a registers’ office? Will you become the rulers of Sodom, and the people of Gomorrha? Shall your love to man vanish in a word, and evaporate on the tongue? Shall it be lost in a tear, and perish in a sigh? Will you enthrone a Goddess of reason before the table of Christ? Will you burn
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your Bibles? Will you crucify anew your Redeemer? Will you deny your GOD? [Boldface added for emphasis, Willison ed. ]
COME out, therefore, from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father to you: and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
To this end you must coolly, firmly, and irrevocably make your determination, and resolve, that Jebavah is your God, and that you will serve him only. His enemies are the enemies of yourselves, and of your children; of your peace, liberty, and happiness; of your religion, virtue, and salvation.— Their principles abhor; their practices detest. Before your steady indignation,, and firm contempt, they will fall of course. No falsehood can, bear the sun beams of truth; no vice can withstand the steady current of virtue. The motives to this opposition are infinite. Your all, your children’s all, is at stake, if you contend manfully, you will be more than conquerors; if you yield, both you and they are undone. You are endeared by a thousand ties. Your common country is a land of milk and honey: In it a thousand churches are vocal with the praise of your Creator; and four thousand [ public, Willison ed. ]schools receive your children to their bosom, and nurture them to wisdom and piety. In this country you all sprang from one flock, speak one language, have one system of manners, profess one religion, and wear one character. Your laws, your institutions, your interests, are one. No mixture weakens, no strangers divide, you. You have fought and bled, your fathers have fought and died, together. Together they worshipped GOD; together they sate around the table of the Redeemer; together they ascended to heaven; and together they now unite in the glorious concert of eternal praise. With such an interest at hazard, with such bonds of union,
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with such examples, you cannot separate; you cannot fear.
LET me at the same time warn you, that your enemies are numerous, industrious, and daring, full of subtlety, and full of zeal. Nay, some of them are your own brethren, and endeared to you by all the ties of nature. The contest is, therefore, fraught with hazard and alarm. Were it a war of arms, you would have little to dread. It is a war of arts, of temptations; of enchantments; a war against the magicians, of Egypt; in which no weapons will avail, but "the rod of GOD." In this contest you may be left alone. Fear not; "they that be for you will even then be more than they that are against you." Almighty power will protect, Infinite wisdom will guide, and Unchangeable goodness will prosper you. The Christian world rises daily in prayer to heaven for your faithfulness and success; the host of sleeping saints calls to you from the grave, and bids you God speed. The spirits of your fathers lean from yonder skies to survey the conflict, and your children of many generations, will rise up, and call you blessed.
Two things will be probably, and not unnaturally objected to these observations. One is, that these Infidels are the direct enemies and opposers of the hierarchy; and the other, that their persecution has fallen principally on the Catholics, and not on the Protestants.
The former of these objections will be easily obviated. The kings, or States, who, it is said, shall hate the Whore (another name of the same system) and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, are exhibited, also, as the direct enemies and opposers of the Hierarchy; yet they are plainly marked as great constituent parts of the system. Of course, the present opposition and enmity of Infidels to the Hierarchy is perfectly consistent with the doctrine, that they are nevertheless essential and prominent parts of the same system. In this there is nothing uncommon. Many other kingdoms, and systems, have been divided against themselves, and still have pursued the same great object in different methods.
Nor is the latter objection attended with any more difficulty. It is true, that the persecution of modern Infidels has fallen principally on the Catholics, and not on the Protestants ; and it is equally true, that they have not persecuted them at all as Catholics, but merely as christians. They themselves have often told us their real design. They have ridiculed, denied, and decried religion as such; and not as the Catholic system; and have fought and butchered the Catholic soldiers, and people, as the Armies and adherents of Jesus, by name. Whom have they persecuted in form? The men, who had too much conscience, principle, and to perjure themselves, and deny their Saviour; not the men, who publicly apostasizing from Christianity, and perjuring themselves, still retained, professedly, the name of Catholics, and the title of Clergymen. The religion, the piety, of these men constituted the crime, for which they died; not the character of Catholics. Accordingly the persecution has fallen indiscriminately on Protestant as well as Catholics; not so often, because there were not so many of them; but never the less, because they were protestants. This dilUnaion was invented here, and by us; and was not so much as thought of by themselves.
To what, let me ask, is Infidelity opposed? To Christianity. Against what are all its arguments, arts, labours, violence, and persecution, directed? Christianity. What then is it opposing? Christianity. No Infidel ever thought of making a distinction in favour of protestants or of true religion; every Infidel will laugh at those, who make it for him.
Divines themselves have, I suspect, at times been too ready to consider every Catholic, as such, as being a part of this system; whereas the system itself is formed merely of opposition and enmity to true religion and the persecution of its friends. Such Catholics, therefore, as have never cherished this opposition and enmity, nor encouraged this persecution, are in no sense parts of the system. Of this description, substantially, are undoubtedly all such Catholics, as are the subjects of real piety. I know there are protestants, and perhaps in this country who will, either not at all, or with great difficulty, admit any Catholics to be men of piety. But is not this a mere prejudice? Is it not the very thing, which we call bigotry in tbem? viz, limiting salvation to their own church? .Was not Fenelon, was not Rollin, a man of piety? Have not great numbers of the French Clergy by yielding their lives, in preference to denying their Saviour and abjuring Christianity, proved themselves to the eye of charity to be men of piety? If they have not, I fear we shall he left without one of the best arguments to prove that piety exists.
It may perhaps be thought, that I am become an advocate for the church of Rome. Should it be so thought, it will not be the legitimate consequence of any thing which I have said, but of the preconceptions of those, who think in this manner. The Hierarchy, as a preeminent system of opposition to true religion, and of persecution of the Church of Christ, I have already exhibited, as being the monstrous system of wickedness, denoted by the Beast of the Apocalypse; and the secular powers, which have been coadjutors in this system, as the mass of wickedness denoted by the Dragon. The true mark of the Beast is a voluntary cooperation with this great design, and not the mere assumption of the name, catholic.
Page 6, line 13, from the top, and p. 7, I. i, for Heylin read Heylyn.
Page 7, line 4, from the bottom, for: 1800, read 1799, and for ninety read eighty.
Page 21, line 16, from the bottom, after facts; read and arguments.
Page 28, line 13, from the top, for bid read bidden.
Page 37, line 3, from the bottom, for differnt read different.
Page 43, line 11, from the bottom, for council read connsel.