Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

SERMON ever be the earnest prayer of every virVI. tuous man; for my brethren and companions' sake, I will ever say, Peace be within thee!

II. We love our country as the seat of true religion. Freed from the domi minion of Popish superstition and darkness which so long overspread the earth, here the light of the blessed reformation continues to shine in its greatest splendour. Here the forms of religious worship are incumbered with no pageantry of vain rites! but, agreeably to God's word, are plain and simple, yet solemn and venerable. Religion has among us neither been the engine of ecclesiastical tyranny, nor the instrument of princely despotism. It has maintained a proper alliance with the regular government of the state, and the order of public tranquillity. The church that has been established by law, in the two separate divisions of the island, is suited. to the genius and dispositions of the people in each. While to the established church is given that protection and support from government, which both the interests of

religion

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

religion and the welfare of the state render proper and due; yet no rigid conformity to it is exacted. All persecution for conscience-sake, is unknown. They who, in their modes of thinking, or in their religious forms, differ from the established church, are at full liberty, without reproach, to worship God according to their own opinions and, the rites of their fathers, as long as they infringe not the public tranquillity nor disturb the state.

I now ask, what establishment of religion. more friendly to public happiness could be desired or framed? How zealous ought we to be for its preservation? How much on our guard against every danger which threatens to trouble or overthrow it?— Can there be any among us so infatuated as to wish to exchange it for that new form of things which has produced such fatal effects on a neighbouring land? Were it ever to be introduced among us, it is not the return of antient superstition, it is not the bondage of the church of Rome, we would have to dread: evils great in themselves, but small in comparison of what such a revolution would produce. As soon

as

SERMON
VI.

VI.

SERMON as under the guise of philosophy, and with the pretence of unlimited toleration, the established forms of religion were demolished in France, the flood-gates were opened to pour a torrent of avowed infidelity, atheism, and all the grossest immoralities, over that devoted country. We have beheld the throne and the altar overthrown together and nothing but a wretched ruin left, where once a stately fabric stood. We have seen the venerable ministers of religion, stripped of their subsistence, torn from their churches, driven from their homes, and forced to wander as exiles, and beg their bread in a foreign land. -We have seen the last consolation of the wretched destroyed, and the grave sealed against their hope, by the public declaration that death is an eternal sleep.- Such have been the blessed fruits of that new order of things which boasted of being to restore happiness to all the nations. Such are the consequences we have to expect among ourselves, if ever the like dangerous opi nions shall prevail in Britain.-With horror let us turn away from the thought. With earnestness let us pray for the peace of our

Jerusalem;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Jerusalem; and for the house of the Lord our SERMON God, let us zealously seek its good.

VI.

III. We love our country as the seat of liberty and laws; a mild, wise, and happy government. This opens a much wider field of discourse than the bounds of a sermon admit. But on this part of the subject being happily anticipated by so many excellent publications which have lately appeared, I shall content myself with making a few leading observations.-The ends for which men unite in society and submit to government are, to enjoy security to their property, and freedom to their persons from all injustice or violence. The more completely those ends are obtained, with the least diminution of personal liberty, the nearer such government approaches to perfection: I say, approaches to it; for a perfect government is a mere chimera. Before we can expect it to take place, we must wait till we see any one thing whatever arrive at perfection on earth. The two extremes to be guarded against are, despotism, where all are slaves; and anarchy where all would rule, and none obey.

[ocr errors]

The

SERMON
VI.

The British government may appear at different periods to have inclined sometimes to the one, and sometimes to the other of those extremes. In its In its present state, it may justly be accounted to be removed to an equal distance from either of those evils; and therefore to have approached nearer to the perfection of social order, than any other government, antient or modern. To this point it has arrived in the progress of ages, not in consequence of theories formed by speculative men, such as our modern reformers, but in consequence of experiments made, and trials undergone. Experience, that great parent of all, bút especially of political wisdom, taught a brave, generous, and high-spirited people, how to correct, by degrees, preceding evils, and to form the wisest plan for liberty and security. In this state we now find the British constitution. It stands among the nations of the earth, like an antient oak in the wood, which, after having overcome many a blast, overtops the other trees of the forest, and commands respect and veneration. All foreigners look to it with wonder, and with envy, as the happiest system that ever was devised for

uniting

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »