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What avails.it that God hath blessed us with a fruitful country, a happy climate and bountiful seasons; if instead of Industry, Moderation of mind, Thankfulness to Heaven, and a due improvement of His blessings, we are sapping the foundations of all our future happiness as a people, by Luxury, Pride, Idleness, Dissipation and the eager pursuit of false Pleasure; with its never-failing attendants-Infidelity and the scandalous neglect of Religion, and profana. tion of the Lord's day!
This was one of the crying sins of the Jews, for which the severest judgments were denounced against them," I saw, in those days, in Judah,” says Nehemiah, “ some treading wine presses on the “ Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; “ as also wine, grapes and figs, and all manner of bur“ dens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the “ Sabbath day—And there dwelt also men of Tyre “ therein, who brought fish, and all manner of ware, " and sold on the Sabbath, to the children of Judah, “ and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the noo bles of Judah, and said unto them—what evil thing " is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? “ Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God “ bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? “ Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel, by profan"ing the Sabbath*.”
But, notwithstanding all these judgments, this evil continued among that people until our Saviour's days, who testified his indignation against it, by entering
• Veh. xiji. 15, 16, 17, 18.
the temple, and having made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables*.
But what is all this to what we now behold? the mere selling the necessaries of life and the exchanging of money, which although restricted by our laws, evils of a more aggravated nature are tolerated, or at least not restrained or corrected? The Sabbath, by many is turned into their chief day of idleness, recreation, parties of pleasure, sinful sports and diversion, gaming, feasting, rioting and all manner of diversion! Shall I not visit for these things saith the Lord, and shall not my soul be avenged on such a people as this?
O ye Rulers and Judges of the land! ye masters and heads of families, among whom, blessed be God, we have yet illustrious examples of those who honour God's holy name and the places of his worship! I know you will bear with the expostulations, which the faithful discharge of my duty requires on this solemn day!
If the Jews, when under the government of God himself, and especially instructed by his inspired messengers and prophets, came to humble themselves under his judgments, and to implore his mercy and renew their covenant of obedience with Him; I say, if then they thought it their duty, to testify their sincerity with an oath, and to swear with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and
• John, chap. ii. 14, 15.
with cornets, “ That whosoever would not seek the “ Lord God of their fathers, whether small or great, “ man or woman, should be put to death”—and if this punishment was inflicted on those who continued in idolatry, which was in some sort the acknowledgment of a god, or gods, although false ones—what punishment can be due to those who not only discountenance and refuse the worship of the true God, but openly profane, blaspheme, or deny His holy name?
I know, my Brethren, the nature of persecution, and, I trust, the nature also of that civil and religi. ous Liberty which our happy constitution ensures to all. But the abuse of privileges, and that licentiousness, civil or religious, which dissolves the bands of society, and tends to the destruction both of soul and body, are certainly not the objects of toleration under any government. If it were possible for men, of the most abundant estate, or in the higher stations of life, and who claim the unrestrained right of doing what they please with their own-I say, if it were possible for them to indulge every luxury, folly, vanity, and vice, which the corrupt heart and understanding could devise (taking their chance of another world)—I say again, if this were possible, without poisoning society by their fatal example in the present world—there might be some plea for their li. berty of doing with their own fortune, and with their souls and bodies, according to the lusts of their own will. But would this consist with the dignity of a man, or the exercise of his rational faculties, even if he could believe that there was no world but he pre
sent; and that, after the longest life spent in the vani. ties here on earth, he was to lie down in the dust, like the beasts that perish, and that the trump of God would never rouse his sleeping ashes to a future judgment?--No! and I am well persuaded that I do not at present, address a man of this belief. On the contrary, I rather trust, that there is not a person who now hears me, that does not believe he was sent into this world for nobler purposes, than merely to vegetate, to rọt, and to die.—Wherefore, then, let us all strive to fill the sphere assigned us, with dignity and diligence. If the supreme Wisdom has called us to the inferior stations of bodily labour, we are therewith to be content. It is honourable and subservient to virtue; for not the meanest calling but hath a blessing promised of God; and not the most exalted, but hath its cares, its toils, and temptations. Again, if, by the indulgence of heaven, we are released from the necessity of bodily labour, yet not less is the sphere of duty, nor less the joy attending the faithful discharge of it. There are liberal and ingenuous, employments suited to the highest parts and estateGo, order your affairs aright. Train up your children in the fear of God. Be an example of righteousness to your houshold and to society. Husband your time and your fortune for the public good. Minister out of your abundance to the necessities of others. Be hospitable; be kind; be solicitous for the advancement of justice and virtue; in all which, you may be serious without gloom; cheerful without levity; and active without dissipation. For our religion enjoins no duty but what is for our own welfare; and denies
no indulgence, but what would cross us in our way heavenwards.
True it is, that by the precepts of this religion, men blest with fortune and abilities to serve their country in its highest offices, are forbidden to waste their prime of life, and talents in scenes of dissipation and folly; they are exhorted to spurn from their bosom and their company, the profane talker, the debauchee, the gamester, the sharper! But what is all this, except to lead persons, born for worthy actions, to the noblest twofold Saving—a Saving of Time from degrading and unworthy conversation (which might be better employed in the improvement of their own faculties, and in planning for the public wcal); and a Saving of expense (which might redeem a virtuous family from distress, and make the widow's heart sing for joy.
To stimulate us, therefore, in such fair and noble pursuits, let us always keep in view the great objects that lie before us—the career of Glory to which we are called as a people! Let us remember that it was not by idle hands, nor by reclining in the lap of Indolence, nor by the pursuit of false pleasure, or vanities unsuited to their condition, that our honourable ancestors subdued a wilderness, and left this goodly heritage to their posterity! nor is it by means like these that we can transmit it safe and flourishing to our children and children's children.
It is always too soon when a people, even arrived at the meridian of their Glory, forget those virtues by which they were raised into importance; but for us who have not yet half-way reached our noon; for us