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DUTY OF AMERICA (SER. xlir. same time a more determined opponent of religious indifference, than I am. My creed in this matter is formed upon the Redeemer's words, “ He that is not with me is against “ me.” Yet let no man libel me as an enemy to free inquiry on religious subjects, or to the privilege of worshipping God as his conscience dictates. The motto which I have adopted is, “ Prove all things ; hold “ fast that which is good.” .
No one ought to be molested in his religion ; but at the same time no man ought to be considered as innocent who equalizes all religions. Whilst, therefore, a protest is given in against the authority of the civil magistrate ever to invade the rights of conscience in religion, by temporal penalties, let it not be considered that the protest in any degree justifies the error, that in the sight of God all the various forms of worship and systems of religion are entitled to the same respect. But one form and one system can be right, and the rest must be erroneous. . .
On this ground, whilst I cheerfully grant to the members of the Roman Church the right which they possess to avow and defend
their opinions, without suffering civil penal-
On this head, enlargement, for the purpose of adducing proof, is needless. No man has ever yet lost his life, or forfeited his temporal ease, in this country, for his religion. All classes of Christians are equal
·t Rev. xvii. 5.
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ly protected and countenanced. In our country, the rare and pleasing spectacle is exhibited, of every man sitting under his own vine and fig-tree, with none to molest him, or make him afraid. Nor has this state of things introduced more religious divisions, or less respect to religious ordinances, than exists in Europe. There are not a greater number of religious sects here than there are in Britain. The Ministers, as a body, are as well supported, and, wherever the regular administration of the Gospel is enjoyed, the attendance upon public worship is as good. As to the power of religion, I do not hesitate to say, that, in proportion to the population of the two countries, we have more real believers, persons living under the influence of grace, than they have.
: The contrast between Europe and America in this respect is striking, and affords us a useful lesson. The religious establishments of the former, being incorporated with the state, have in all countries, not excepting Holland under the government of Maurice, and Britain, given rise to persecutions, and authorized the infliction of death on account of dissent. In the United States, neither
In a persecution nor death has ever been exradi perienced on account of religion. This hisar single fact speaks more against such ecclethi siastical establishments as they have in the stated OS of old world, than yolumes could; and the tes
timony which it affords against them, gives a decided preference to our conduct, to leave the Church to herself, without coercing her
to promote secular purposes. ere a
4. We have not fought for, nor contribu1.ted to the upholding of the Man of Sin in In these latter days.
- As we never have been members of his apostate communion, so we never have
aided him. The very war in which we Tu are engaged, so far as it does, or can pro
duce an effect upon his interest, is hostile
Since the commencement of our difficul-, ties with the two great belligerent powers of Europe, there has been an increase of se-, riousness in a large proportion of our Churches. Especially since the declaration VOL. II.
of war, has the Spirit been poured out from on high copiously upon many of the parched parts of the Redeemer's vineyard. The judgment of war seems to have awakened many to reflection ; others have been excited by the pressure of present suffering to attend to eternal concerns. The ordinances of worship have thus been better observed than heretofore, and multitudes in various places have been brought to the knowledge and acknowledgment of the truth. Thus, though there has been a deterioration of morals and religion in the nation at large, we have especial tokens that God is still in the midst of us; that whilst he is inflicting temporal punishments richly merited, he is dispensing spiritual blessings. This revives us in our bondage and fills our hearts with gladness.
Though we have abundant cause for regret and sorrow, and deep humiliation, on account of our grievous national sins; we have also cause for thankfulness and praise on account of God's remembrance of us in our low estate. Whilst, therefore, we are called to mourn over judgments, we must acknowledge that God has enabled us to sing of his mercies.