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this now happy land, I pretend not to foresee. I cannot tell whether these solemn temples will become the resort of muttering monks, or of infidel bacchanalians. I know not, whether our children will worship a relic, and pray to a saint-or deny the existence of God, and proclaim “ death an eternal sleep.” I should rather fear, that neither of these woes would fill
the measure of our cup of trembling; but that some strange ministration of wrath, more terrific than eye hath seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man conceived, was yet treasured up among the hidden things of the Almighty, to be visited in vengeance upon the iniquities of a people who so signally slighted the day of their merciful visitation.
Fathers and Brethren ; you behold the result to which we have been led. It is for us to decide whether the moral light, which has just begun to dawn, shall ascend to meridian glory, or whether for ages it shall be extinguished in darkness. It is for us to say, whether this nation shall first welcome the coming of Messiah, and rejoice in the earliest submission to his reign; or bear for ages the awful weight of divine indignation, for having, under such aggravated circumstances, rejected the offered mercy of God's well-beloved Son.
Men, Brethren, and Fathers; what shall we do? Shall the kingdom of Christ come, or shall it not come? But before you answer this question, it is proper to consider what the answer involves.
The kingdom of Christ will not come, unless an effort be made on the part of the church more intense and more universal than any we have yet seen. Little does it become me to speak in the language of a reformer. will, I trust, pardon me, if I, with diffidence, suggest some changes which must take place, before we can be prepared for the crisis before us.
In general, then, I would remark, that the providence of God calls loudly upon religious men, to be more deeply and thoroughly religious.
Too commonly now, the character of Christian is merged in the character of statesman, or lawyer, or physician, or merchant, or tradesman, or even of man or woman of fashion. I blush while I speak it, but it is too true ; this age beholds fashionable disciples of a crucified Jesus. All this must, we think, be altered. If religion be any thing, it is every thing. If the Bible be not a fable, it is meet that every other distinction of a Christian be merged in that of piety. Our private history, the arrangements of our business, the discipline of our families, our intercourse with society, must show that we do really care very little about every thing else, if we can only promote the growth of vital piety in our own souls, and in the souls of others.
But to be somewhat more particular. New efforts are required of ministers of the Gospel. The times seem to demand that our lives be much more laborious than formerly. We must labor more abundantly in preparation for the pulpit ; we must preach more, in season and out of season ; we must visit our people more frequently, and more religiously; we must exhort more fervently; and thus make our moral influence more universally and more deeply felt upon all classes, but specially upon the young. If it be sait, that clergymen are, generally, as laborious as their health will admit, we may grant it ; but still, we would ask, might they not frequently obtain better health ? Every one of us, surely, might understand and obey the laws of his animal economy.
If we would do this, we should less frequently complain of ill health. Besides, who of us, with the firmest health, has ever accomplished half the labor of Baxter, or Payson, who were invalids through life?
It will also be necessary that our efforts be more systematic. Weact so much at random, that the labors of one day interfere with those of another, and thus much invaluable time is lost. Who, that has had the least experience in the ministry, does not see to how much better purpose he would have lived had he resolutely set about doing one thing at a time, and doing that thing thoroughly. Should every one of us survey the field which God has placed before him, and begin now to direct those influences, which, ten years hence, will be called into operation ; and should we thus labor year after year upon the best plan that prayerful consideration will enable us to devise ; would not our lives be spent to vastly better effect?
Again : The approaching crisis will demand a greater amount of intellectual vigor. The work will call for strong arms, and for very many of them. Ministers will find it necessary to devote themselves more resolutely to severe studies, to original thinking, and to every sort of discipline which may render the mind a more efficient instrument for swaying the opinions of men. Perhaps it will not be amiss to add, that the present state of society seems specially to demand of us a more profound knowledge of the evidences of revelation; of the various connexions which God has established between moral laws and the laws of the universe about us ; and a deep and intimate acquaintance with the unadulterated oracles of divine truth, if possible, in the languages in which they were originally written.
But more than any thing else, do we need improvement in personal piety, in the experience of religion in our own souls. We must approach nearer to the luminary, if we would reflect more of its light. Nothing but ardent love to God, and unshaken trust in his promises, will animate us amid the labors to which the necessities of the church will call us. In the absence of these, we have no reason to expect that the influences of the Holy Spirit will attend our efforts, without which, they would be as unable so excite a holy volition, as to create a world. When ministers thus labor for Christ, thus love Him, and thus trust in Him—then may we hope to see the blessings of the day of Pentecost descend upon our churches.
But the principles which apply to a minister, apply also to every Christian man. I add, then, secondly, the necessities of the church require new efforts of laymen. The religious man, every where, and at all times, must show himself a devoted Christian.
It is necessary that Christians begin to use their property as stewards. The principles of the Gospel must be carried into the business of our everyday expenditure. We must sacrifice to Christ our love of pleasure, of ostentation, and of accumulation ; or we must cease to pray, “ Tby kingdom come.” I see men professing godliness, spending their property profusely, in obedience to all the calls of a world that knows not God; or else hoarding it up, with miserly avarice, to ruin the souls of the rising generation ; but I confess, I do not see how they will answer for it “ to the Judge of quick and dead.”
The canse of Christ, also, requires of laymen a far greater amount of personal exertion. Suppose ye, that in apostolic times, the claims of religion would have required of a disciple, nothing more than a small portion of his income ? When the time was come for the church to be enlarged, they that were scattered abroad, went every where, preaching the word. Now we do not say, that you are required to be preachers; but we do say, that religion requires you to consider the promotion of piety in the hearts of men, as an object demanding your highest efforts. The management of the religious charities of the day belongs to you. It now comes principally upon the clergy. Its tendency is to render them secular. It makes them men of dexterity, rather than of deep thought and commanding cloquence. The cause would gain much by a division of labor. Brethren, you are called upon to come forward and relieve us from this service. But yet more-every man who knows the value of the soul, may speak of its value to his neighbor. Every man of ordinary abilities, who feels the love of Christ, may give profitable religious instruction to youth and children. The promotion of piety, in the hearts of others, should enter as much into every man's daily arrangements, as the care for the body that perisheth. When this spirit shall have become universal, something will be done.
Do you say, that you have not the requisite information? I ask, does it require much information, to remind men that they are going to the judgment seat of Christ ? But I say again, why have you not the information ? That intellect is by far the most valuable, as well as the most improvable possession, with which God has intrusted you-why have you not rendered it a better instrument to serve him? Every Christian, in such a country as this, may be, and ought to be, a well-informed man.
And, lastly; As intimated before, the cause of Christ requires of private Christians, as well as of clergymen, deeper humility, more fervent piety, and a life of closer communion with God. Your money and labors, as well as our studies and preaching, will be despised, unless they be the offering of holy hearts. All, all, are utterly ineffectual, unless the Spirit descend upon us from on high. Our alms will be as water spilt upon the ground, unless our souls are fired with the love of Christ, and our hearts temples for the residence of the Holy Ghost.
You see, then, what is required. I ask agaiu, Christian brethren, are you ready for the effort ? Shall the kingdom of Christ speedily come, or shall it not? You have seen the option which the providence of God has set be
You have seen, so far as ourselves are concerned, on what that option is suspended. What will you do? I put the question to the understanding, and the conscience of every man. Do you not believe that by proper effort the liberties of this country may be secured—and that, without it, there is every reason to fear they will be irrecoverably lost ? Do you not believe, that, by such an effort, thousands of souls may be saved from eternal perdition—and that, without it, those souls will not be saved ? Do you not believe, that, if such an effort were made, in entire dependence on the Spirit of God, this country would be subjected to Jesus Christ--that his kingdom would come, and his will be done throughout our land—and that, if it be not made, there is every reason to fear, that his kingdom will not come for ages? Do you not believe, that there is no time to be lost--but that every thing den
pends upon the men of the present generation? You are then in possession of all the facts necessary to a decision. You stand in the presence of Him who died to redeem a world lying in wickedness, and at whose bar you must review the resolution of the present moment. In the presence of that Savior, redeemed sinners, what will ye do?
Time will barely suffer me to allude, in the briefest manner, to that species of religious effort which has given occasion to this address.
You cannot, however, fail to see, that if ever the Gospel is universally to prevail, it must be by such efforts, under God, that its triumph will be achieved. By furnishing employment for talent of every description, the Sabbath School system multiplies, almost indefinitely, the amount of benevolent effort, and awakens throughout every class of society the dormant spirit of Christian philanthropy. It renders every teacher a student of the Bible; and thus, in the most interesting manner, brings divine truth into immediate contact with the understanding and the conscience. All this it does to the teacher. But, beside all this, the Sabbath School is imbuing what will, twenty years hence, be the active population of this country, with the pripciples of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is teaching that class of the community, into whose hands so soon the destinies of this country will fall, the precepts of inviolable justice, and eternal truth. But more than all, it is implanting in the bosoms of millions of immortal souls, “that knowledge which is able to make them wise unto salvation, through the faith that is in Christ Jesus." How transcendently glorious are the privileges before us ! Who will not embark in this holy enterprise ?
One remark more, and I have done. I see before me the representatives of a very important portion of the Christian church. We are assembled in the midst of a city, renowned for its deeds of mercy. The effects of our decisions may be felt in the remotest hamlet in the land. To us is offered the high honor of giving an impulse to this work, that shall afford cheering promise of its speedy consummation.
Suffer me, then, in the name of the omniscient Savior, to ask, What will you do? Let every minister of the Cross here ask himself, Why, even during my own lifetime, should not the millennium commence in my congregation ? flere, then, before the altar of God, let us dedicate ourselves anew, and in the strength of Christ resolve that we will henceforward live with direct reference to the immediate coming of his kingdom. Professional men, before you rest to-night, will ye dedicate that intellect, with which God has endowed you, with all the means of influence which it can command, to the service of your Redeemer? Men of wealth, as ye retire from this place, will ye collect the title deeds of that property, which Providence has lent you, and write upon them all, “ Holiness to the Lord ?" A thousand times have we said that we would do all this. Let the Spirit witness with our spirits, that we do it now in view of the judgment seat of Christ. Henceforth, in the Sabbath School, in the Bible Class, and in the use of all the means which God has placed in our power, let us labor to bring this world under the blessed reign of the Redeemer-or let us cease to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” May God enable us to act worthy of his cause ; and to his great name shall be the glory. AMEN. 1. The Monthly Numbers, usually contain two Sermons.
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