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and that they may safely leave it to other parts of their conduct to efface the smallest suspicion of their piety. To view this practice in the most favourable light, it indicates, as has been observed by a great living writer,* “ a mind over which religious considerations have little influence.” It also sufficiently accounts for that propensity to ridicule piety which is one of our national peculiarities. It would be uncandid to suppose, that at the best times there was more piety on the Continent than here: be this as it may, it never appears to have exposed its possessors to contempt; nor was the sublime devotion of Fenelon and of Pascal ever considered as forming a shade to their genius. The reverence for religion had not been worn away by the familiar abuse of its peculiar terms.
It will be expected something should be said on the slave-trade. Its enormity no words can express. But here we must feel a mixture of satisfaction and regret ;-of satisfaction, at finding it has excited such general indignation among the people; of regret, that notwithstanding this, it should still be continued. By the most earnest and unanimous remonstrances, addressed to those who alone could abolish it, the people have purged themselves from this contamination. Their application was unsuccessful. The guilt and turpitude of this traffic now rest upon the heads of those who sanction and of those who conduct it. From some recent events in the western colonies, it seems not unlikely the Deity is about to take this affair into his own hands, and to accomplish by his interposition what has been denied to the prayer of the nation.
It is far from being a pleasing employ; it is painful, it is distressing, to dwell on such topics; but it is necessary.
Our disease has gone too far to admit of palliatives; our wounds are too deep to be healed till they are searched and probed to the bottom. The only safe expedient which remains to be adopted is an immediate return to God; to forsake every one his evil way, and the violence that is in his hands, and cry mightily to him: and who can tell, if God will turn and repent, and turn away his fierce anger from us? At the same time, let it be remembered that repentance is a personal concern.
Instead of losing ourselves in a crowd, and resting in general confessions, we ought each one to examine his own ways and turn from his own iniquity. We shall not fail if we have the least piety to lament the prevalence of sin around us, but we can repent only of our oun : and however, in the present mixed and imperfect state, we may share in the judgments and calamities which other men's sins draw down, it is those we commit ourselves which alone can do us ultimate injury. Our continuance here is but for a short time; after which as many as are purified and made white will remove into another world, be placed under a higher economy, and be put in possession of a kingdom that cannot be moved.
Let me remind you that repentance is a duty of greater extent than many are apt to suppose, who, confining their view, on such occasions as these, to a few of the grosser disorders of their lives, pay little attention to the heart: they are satisfied with feeling a momentary
* Dr. Paley.
compunction and attempting a partial reformation, instead of crying with the royal penitent, create in me a clean heart! They determine to break off particular vices,-an excellent resolution as far as it goes, —without proposing to themselves a lise of habitual devotion, without imploring, under a sense of weakness, that grace which can alone renew the heart, making, in the words of our Lord, the tree good, that the fruit may be good also. Let it cost us what uneasiness it may, let us resolve at the present season to examine our ways, to become acquainted with the state of our consciences, to enter with the candle of the Lord into the inmost recesses of the heart, and the chambers of imagery, whatever disorder or defilement they may conceal, or whatever alarm the knowledge of ourselves may excite; since to be apprized of danger is the first step to safety, and it will be infinitely better for us to judge and accuse ourselves now, than to be judged and condemned hereafter. Happy those to whom a seasonable alarm shall suggest the means of a perpetual security. We need be under no apprehension lest the cherishing of the sentiments we have recommended should lead to despondency. We have a High-priest, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God. In the midst of the deepest humiliation we are invited to look up to him with an humble reliance on the efficacy of his blood which cleanses from all sin; and to intrust our prayers and our duties, disordered and impersect at best, into his hands, that he may mingle them with the incense of his intercession, and present them with acceptance before God.
When Nineveh was threatened with destruction by the prophet Jonah, tidings were brought to the king, who proclaimed a fast. Penetrated with the profoundest awe of the divine displeasure, he enjoined a rigorous abstinence from food, which extended even to the brute creation, who were also commanded to be covered with sackcloth. For in the eyes of that penitent prince it seemed proper that every thing should wear an air of mourning and desolation, while it lay under the frown of its Maker. He himself rose from his throne, laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. He rightly judged that the glitter of state, the distinctions of rank, and the splendour of royalty should disappear at a moment when all classes were alike awaiting their doom; at a inoment when the greatest as well as the least were made to feel they were potsherds of the earth, ready to be crumbled into dust. Such exemplary humiliation averted the divine anger, and Nineveh was spared. If our gracious sovereign has (as we humbly believe) descended this day from his elevation, and laying aside his robes, humbled himself in the dust before the Majesty of Heaven; if his nobles have followed his example, and the people have resolved to turn every one from his evil way, the duties of the season will afford a surer defence than all our military preparations : our salvation will issue from the Being whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
As a people, the most certain means of ensuring lasting prosperity, and of enabling us to transmit, unimpaired, to those who shall succeed us the rich inheritance devolved from our fathers, will be a speedy
return to the spirit and practice of the gospel. We shall ill consult the true interests of revelation by disguising its peculiarities, in hope of conciliating the approbation of infidels, and of adapting it more to their taste-a mistaken and dangerous policy, by which we run imminent risk of catching their contagion, without imparting the benefit of its truths. Let us not for a moment blench from its mysteries: they ara mysteries of godliness; and, however much they may surpass human reason, bear the distinct impress of a divine hand.
We rejoice that they are mysteries, so far from being ashamed of them on that account ; since the principal reason why they are and must ever continue such, is derived from their elevation, from their unsearchable riches, and undefinable grandeur. In fine, let us draw our religion and morality entirely from the word of God, without seeking any deeper foundation for our duties than the will of the Supreme Being, an implicit and perfect acquiescence in which is the highest virtue a creature can attain.
Amid many unfavourable symptoms of the state of morals among us, there are others of a contrary nature. We may hope infidelity has nearly run its length. In truth, its sophistry, in the eyes of men of sense, has been much discredited by the absurdity of its tenets; and if any have been in danger of being seduced by the talents of its advocates, they have commonly found a sufficient antidote in their lives. We have learned to prize revelation more than ever since we have seen the ludicrous mistakes as well as serious disasters of those mystics of impiety who chose rather to walk by an internal light than enjoy the benefits of its illumination. They have edified us much without intending it: they have had the effect which the great critic of antiquity assigns as the purpose of the tragic Muse, that of purifying the heart by pity and terror. Their zeal has excited an equal degree of ardour in a better cause, and their efforts to extirpate religion have been opposed by contrary efforts, to diffuse its influence at home and abroad, to a degree unexampled in modern times. A growing unanimity has prevailed among the good in different parties, who, finding a centre of union in the great truths of revelation, and in a solicitude for its interests, are willing to merge their smaller differences in a common cause. The number of the sincerely pious, we trust, is increasing among us, whose zeal, so far from suffering abatement from the confidence of infidelity, has glowed with a purer and more steady flame than ever. These are pleasing indications that the presence of the Holy One of Israel is still in the midst of us.
How it may please the Ruler of the universe to dispose the destinies of the two most powerful nations of the earth, which are at this moment laid in the balance together, it is impossible for us with certainty to predict. But when we consider how many of his sincere worshippers, how large a portion of his church, together with how rich a fund of wisdom, of talents, and of all those elements of social order and happiness which he must approve, are enclosed within the limits of this highly favoured land, we cannot believe he intends to give it up a prey to his enemies. Our insular situation is favourable, our resources
prodigious, and the preparations which have long been making apparently every way equal to the danger of the crisis : but still we would place our ultimate reliance on Him who abases the proud and exalts the lowly. It would be presumption to imagine it in my power to add any thing to those considerations which have already produced such a general movement in defence of our liberties. The cause speaks for itself: it excites feelings which words are ill able to express; involving every object and motive which can engage the solicitude, affect the interests, or inflame the heart of man. After a series of provocations and injuries reciprocally sustained and retaliated, the dispute between us and our enemies is brought to a short issue; it is no longer which of the two nations shall have the ascendant, but which shall continue a nation : it is a struggle for existence, not for empire. It must surely be regarded as a happy circumstance that the contest did not take this shape at an earlier period, while many were deceived by certain specious pretences of liberty into a favourable opinion of our enemies' designs. The popular delusion is past; the most unexampled prodigies of guilt have dispelled it; and, after a series of rapine and cruelty, have torn from every heart the last fibres of mistaken partiality. The crimes of those with whom we have to contend are legible in every part of Europe. There is scarcely a man to be found who is not most perfectly acquainted with the meaning of that freedom they profess to bestow; that it is a freedom from the dominion of laws to pass under the yoke of slavery, and from the fear of God to plunge into crimes and impiety; an impious barter of all that is good for all that is ill, through the utmost range and limits of moral destiny. Nor is it less easy to develop the character of our principal enemy. A man bred in the school of ferocity, amid the din of arms and the tumult of camps; his element, war and confusion ; who has changed his religion with his uniform, and has not spared the assassination of his own troops; it is easy to foresee what treatment such a man will give to his enemies should they fall into his power; to those enemies especially who, saved from the shipwreck of nations, are preserving, as in an ark, the precious remains of civilization and order; and whom, after destroying the liberties of every other country, he envies the melancholy distinction of being the only people he has not enslaved. Engaged with such an enemy, no weak hopes of moderation or clemency can tempt us for a moment to relax in our resistance to his power; and the only alternative which remains is, to conquer or to die.
Hence that unexampled unanimity which distinguishes the present season. In other wars we have been a divided people: the effect of our external operations has been in some measure weakened by intestine dissension. When peace has returned the breach has widened, while parties have been formed on the merits of particular men, or of particular measures. These have all disappeared; we have buried our mutual animosities in a regard to the common safety. The sentiment of self-preservation, the first law which nature has impressed, has absorbed every other feeling; and the fire of liberty has melted down the discordant sentiments and minds of the British empire into
one mass, and propelled them in one direction. Partial interests and feelings are suspended, the spirits of the body are collected at the heart, and we are awaiting with anxiety, but without dismay, the discharge of that mighty tempest which hangs upon the skirts of the horizon, and to which the eyes of Europe and of the world are turned in silent and awful expectation. While we feel solicitude let us not betray dejection, nor be alarmed at the past successes of our enemy, which are more dangerous to himself than to us, since they have raised him from obscurity to an elevation which has made him giddy, and tempted him to suppose every thing within his power. The intoxication of his success is the omen of his fall. What though he has carried the flames of war throughout Europe, and gathered as a nest the riches of the nations, while none peeped, nor muttered, nor moved the wing; he has yet to try his fortune in another field; he has yet to contend on a soil filled with the monuments of freedom, enriched with the blood of its defenders; with a people who, animated with one soul, and inflamed with zeal for their laws and for their prince, are armed in defence of all that is dear or venerable, their wives, their parents, their children, the sanctuary of God, and the sepulchre of their fathers. We will not suppose there is one who will be deterred from exerting himself in such a cause by a pusillanimous regard to his safety, when he reflects that he has already lived too long who has survived the ruin of his country; and that he who can enjoy life after such an event deserves not to have lived at all. It will suffice us, if our mortal existence, which is at most but a span, be co-extended with that of the nation which gave us birth. We will gladly quit the scene with all that is noble and august, innocent and holy; and instead of wishing to survive the oppression of weakness, the violation of beauty, and the extinction of every thing on which the heart can repose, welcome the shades which will hide from our view such horrors.
From the most fixed principles of human nature, as well as from the examples of all history, we may be certain the conquest of this country, should it be permitted to take place, will not terminate in any ordinary catastrophe, in any much less calamitous than utter extermination. Our present elevation will be the exact measure of our future depression, as it will measure the fears and jealousies of those who subdue us.
While the smallest vestige remains of our former greatness, while any trace or memorial exists of our having been once a flourishing and independent empire, while the nation breathes they will be afraid of its recovering its strength, and never think themselves secure of their conquest till our navy is consumed, our wealth dissipated, our commerce extinguished, every liberal institution abolished, our nobles extirpated; whatever in rank, character, and talents gives distinction in society culled out and destroyed, and the refuse which remains swept together into a putrefying heap by the besom of destruction. The enemy will not need to proclaim his triumph ; it will be felt in the more expressive silence of extended desolation.
Recollect for a moment his invasion of Egypt, a country which had never given him the slightest provocation; a country so remote from