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The letters of Penn, indeed, have issued from among us; and they are an honorable testimony to the vigilance and ability of that man's individual mind, to the correctness of his own moral feelings, and to the living and energetic piety of the circle in which he moves. But what else has been done? Has this subject sufficiently arrested the notice of private Christians; and what report would each man's conscience command him to make, if he were asked to say how often its remembrance has gone with him to his closet, and how fervently his prayers have ascended to the God of nations, for that interposition, without which the most vigorous and timely efforts are of no avail. We often think, on every occasion like this, of Cowper's most beautiful and affecting description of the man of humble and retired piety. The truth it contains is as sublime and real, as its poetry is exquisite.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemployed,
And think on her, who thinks not for herself. And have the feelings of clergymen been sufficiently awake, or their conduct sufficiently active, in regard to this subject? Have they given it its due place in their public devotions? We should be the last to put our sanction to that medley of politics and religion, with which, at no distant interval, the irritable passions of an audience were regaled and fostered from the pulpit. We would totally expel from its precincts every thing, to which that title could possibly be annexed; and no sound should be heard from that sacred place, but the voice of mercy, and the word of God. But to the christian inind this subject is not a political one. Its worldly aspect is lost, its political connexions are annihilated, in the all absorbing importance of its character in the light of religion, and its influence on the vital interests of humanity ; in the remembrance too, that its
bearings may be traced, even till they are lost in eternity. We cannot but think, therefore, that it is the duty of every minister of the gospel, so far as may be in his power, to make known to bis peuple the truth of this question, and to enlist their strongest sympaibies in the cause of justice, and for the sake of the oppressed. "What other resource indeed, remains for us? The time of decision is at hand. Our most energetic movements, thus tardily delayed, may come too late to be of any avail. At any rate, nothing can save us unless the public mind be universally aroused from its lethargy, and an appeal made, so loud, simultaneous, and decisive, as shall astonish the world at the power of moral feeling in the beart of this country, and cause the most inveterate and bold supporters of national iniquity to tremble.
An unjust decision in regard to the fate of the Indian tribes, who are so unhappily in our power, to us would almost seem the deathwarrant to the liberties of our republic. We could no longer put faith in the boasted stability of institutions, excellent though they be, which depend so eminently upon a holy state of public morality, should we see so tremendous a proof that the freedom and the religion of this people is rotten at its core.
We should then no longer believe, what we cannot bring ourselves, in the cold spirit of political economists, to regard as the idle dream of poetry, that this is the last and the endurable resort of suffering humanity and persecuted piety. We should look for yet another downfall of the liberties of the world, and yet another victory of the powers of darkness, before the glorious predictions, which we hope are fast hastening to their accomplishment, could be finally fulfilled. We should look for a speedy indiction of the vengeance of Jehovah, as signal upon us, as it was upon bis ancient covenant and rebellious people. cies to us have been incalculably greater, and should we fail to redeem the responsibilities which rest upon us, why dare we hope to be inade an exception to the laws of his retributive providence ? Why should not we also look to become a proverb and a by word among the nations ?
Let us remember what hopes we are blasting in the bud. Let us reflect that the first fair trial of the possibility of bringing an Indian tribe into the full persection of civilization, and under the full influence of the redeeining power of Christianity, is bere fast and auspiciously advancing to its completion. It would seem as if Almighty Providence, in scord of the daring blasphemers, who assert that any of the buinan beings he has made, are ir retrievably beyond the regenerating energy of the Gospel of bis Son, and forever out of the pale of civil and social improvement, has reserved this solitary tribe of the forest, to tell such philosophers the supreme weakness of their complacent speculations." To tell the world that there are
none, however singularly ferocious, whom He cannot reclaim from their savage barbarily. That the simple religion of the cross of Jesus, only, can effect that inighty renovation, that new inoral creation, which must be the invariable forerunner of social refinement, but to the accomplishment of which, all the wisdom and pbilosophy of all past ages is otherwise totally inadequate. And shall we now by our obstinate selfishness, reject this sublime experiment,—and with such rejection destroy the possibility of ever repeating it? Shall we now, when a whole people have emerged from their darkness, and are rapidly advancing to the possession of the glorious light'and hopes of Christianity, and to the enjoyment of the blessings of domestic life, shut them up to all future progress, and return them to their original barbarity? We have thoroughly instructed them in our vices—let us as at least point them to the Balm of Gilead, and not frown on them, while they seek the Physician there. Let us not drive them back into the wilderness, stripped of the comparatively innocent simplicity which once belonged to them, and infected with a moral pestilence, which they never would have felt but for us,-acquainted with crimes, which the ingenuity of refined life only could suggest, but not acquainted with the power of that salvation to which we resort, but which some among us dare to assert they are absolutely incapable of obtaining. After having made them drunk with the cup of our abominations, let us not refuse them a participation in our blessings. Neither let us compel them, as the miserable alternative from a removal beyond the Mississippi, to give themselves to the vulture-like protection of their neighbors to the authority of laws, which practically assert that they are not buman, by depriving them of the most precious rights and privileges of man in a social community. Shall we not rather, as some reparation for the incalculable injury we have done them, now perform the utnost in our power to promote their speedy acquisition of all the blessings which we hold dear; and even err on the side of too bumane a benevolence, too profuse a generosity, too disinterested and self-denying a kindness.
We have deferred the consideration of this topic too long ; so long, indeed, that it argues a carelessness in this country, in regard to the great interests of morality and religion, which is truly portentous. In England, the approach of a question almost exclusively mercantile and political in its nature, the question in regard to the propriety of removing the jurisdiction of the affairs of India from the hands of the East India Company, is watched by the whole nation, with the utmost anxiety, for years before it can possibly come into .parliament; and the subject is kept in daily agitation, with as much vigor as if it were now on the eve of its final settlement. Its connexions and its consequences are examined, not in
the hurry of tumultuous anxiety, but with that calmness of deliberation, which is due to so important a measure; and when it comes to be determined, it will be determined by men prepared for their duty, and under the full and wholesome influence of the decisive expression of an enlightened public opinion. But with us, a subject involving the infinitely higher considerations of national faith and morality, and the interests temporal, and perhaps eternal, of more than filiy thousand human beings, finds us, as a community, at the very moment in which it is to be made the subject of debate in our halls of legislation, in almost total ignorance of its true nature, and its real importance.
But this is not all. Propositions from our government, if not bearing on their very front the characters of manisest and reckless injustice, yet being in their nature such as any community on earth should blush to have originated within its limits, are listened to by us, not only with no manifestation of indignation, but not even with an expression of moderate astonishment at their cold inhumanity; we hear them with as much indifference, as if we considered them matters of course, and unavoidably resulting from the nature of our free institutions. What is more alarming than this, is the truth, that, on the part of a great portion of this people, and on the part of some of the most enlightened, literary, and influential men in New England, such propositions are received with manifest approbation; and with an additional sophistry of selfishness in their support, which might almost put Machiavelli's cool-blooded policy of craftiness and cruelty to shame. If this does not show, notwithstanding all our labors for the spread of the gospel, and all our charities at home and abroad, and all our temperance, and all our wide phylacteries, and prayers in the corners of the streets, a deeprooted moral insensibility, an alarming stupidity of feeling in regard to the cause of general justice and benevolence, whenever these duties clash, in the slighiest apparent degree, with the motives of avarice or pride—then no language, and no conduct (which always speaks with a tenfold energy,) can ever indicate the moral character of any community in existence.
But this is not the ouly fact that makes us tremble for the cause of all that is holy in feeling and virtuous in conduct among us. There are many circumstances, which declare loudly that there is a sad infection of moral leprosy and plague in our system, and that, however it may be concealed for a time, and we remain selfdeceived, beneath our external demonstrations of godliness; or though it be seen to rage and fester only in secret places, or amidst the low and the degraded; it will break out, unless there be an effectual and timely check put upon it, and sweep over our whole country with a mournful and desolating power. We do not hold such
language thoughtlessly, nor without restriction ; but we know that such must be the case in every country, and especially in ours, if there be not high, energetic, and unremitting exertion, on the part of all, who favor the cause of a fervent piety and a stern morality. The nature of our institutions is such, that this country may not unaptly be called a theatre, in which there is held out a free license for the exhibition of all varieties of wickedness, however radically destructive in their nature, which do not directly touch the worldly interests of men, or interfere with the ease and comfort of society. Many among us seem to think, that, in effecting the wholesome disunion of church and state, we have not gone far enough, but should take atheism into partnership, and for greater security against the encroachments of ecclesiastical power, base our republic firmly in the principles of infidelity. It becomes us to be up and doing, to be vigilant and prayerful. The energies of wickedness are of that irregularity, both in the times of its appearance, and the quantity of its power, upon which no calculation can be made, 10 which no limits can be set. None can deny that we have among us all the elements at least, of a most destructive moral, if not political commotion. It only needs an event of sufficient magnitude, and sufficient sharpness of collision with conflicting interests, to set them all in the most terrible combination.
Like all other countries, we have among us the infidel and the atheist; but, unlike almost all others, we give them full toleration in the enjoyment of their conscientious faith. We have, too, the sensual and the debauched; and there are those in whom the light of Deity and the spark of humanity seems hopelessly quenched, and its place forever occupied by the savage and lurid fires of the instinct of the brute. A woman, whose character is a disgrace to the name of female, has lectured arnong us to full meetings of blasphemers and deniers of their God; an event which could not have existed, setting aside all actual prohibition, had the state of public feeling among us been pure in any eminent degree. We look only with emotions of vacant curiosity at such beings and their followers, while they set aside the authority of God's word, and offer to the passions of mankind a freedom from restraint, which is too alluring long to be resisted without deep religious principle. The sabbath continues to be violated ; and though individuals are still permitted to keep it as holy as they choose, yet any attempt to enforce its obligations upon us as a nation is met with the outcry of
priestcraft,' and the obstacle of law. It is said, too, that the Jesuits are at work with their powerful machinations; and wherever, and in whatever hopeless circunstances of apparent weakness and folly, these men begin their operations, let none dare to despise them. The curse of slavery is still upon us; and we never can