Page images

tain the reward of the righteous in a blessed immortality. And surely, my brethren, it is no inconsiderable part of our Christian duty, that our prayers may ascend to the throne of the Almighty in behalf of our children as well as ourselves.

Let me recapitulate briefly and plainly. As the followers of Jesus Christ you may pray for length of days, and for a death unaccompanied by violence to your persons, anguish to your body, and dreadful perturbation to your minds. You may pray for similar blessings to your beloved children, and their progeny. Above all, you may pray for the salvation of their souls and your own; and such prayers you will observe, may be poured forth with peculiar fitness and peculiar earnestness, when scenes of mortality are passing before your eyes from the decease of neighbours, of friends, of relatives, of the wise, of the good, and of the truly great.

Some of the topics to which I have adverted in the foregoing discourse, may recall to your minds, and my own, two recent occurrences, in one of which I am myself more immediately concerned, and in the other we are all of us equally interested, not only as faithful subjects of our national laws, but as serious worshippers of our Father which is in heaven.

It has pleased God to visit me with a painful and dangerous illness. It hath also pleased him to support my spirits in every stage of the malady. It hath pleased him to call into action the natural vigour of my constitution. . It hath pleased him to supply me with the most efficacious help from the

professional skilfulness of my physicians, and the faithful and tender attention of my family. It has further pleased him to refresh my spirits by the sincere and affectionate sympathies of my neighbours, my friends, my relatives, and with heartfelt satisfaction I add, of all my parishioners, whether rich or poor. It hath pleased him in a manner most acceptable to my soul thus to recompence the interests I have taken in the welfare of those fellowcreatures and fellow-christians, who by his providence have been committed to my charge, for instruction, consolation, or succour. Finally, it hath pleased him to grant me a progressive recovery, so that ere long I may return to my laborious studies, to my domestic comforts, and to my various duties as a member of society, and a teacher of Christianity, And what reward shall I give unto thee, O merciful God, for all the benefits which thou hast done unto me! With increased gratitude for thy loving kindness I will now pay my vows in the courts of thy house; with increased trust in thy guidance and protection I will at the table of thy Son drink the cup of salvation ; with increased reverence for thy wisdom and power, I will call upon thy name while I have my being. The goodly fellowship of the apostles, prophets and martyrs, do acknowledge thy infinite majesty ; innumerable hosts of angels and archangels proclaim thy adorable perfections. The heaven, the earth, the universe itself are full of thy wonderous works. Glory therefore, be unto thee Holy Father, Lord Most High, Almighty and everlasting God.

On Sunday next I shall direct your attention to some instructions which I wish to lay before

you, as suggested by the death of our late venerable Sovereign ; and, as I shall then detain you for a considerable time, I shall conclude this discourse by reminding you of the conduct which I have hitherto pursued as your teacher, whensoever I was required to speak upon public affairs.

Parishioners, you will do me the justice to acknowledge, that through a war long protracted, sanguinary, and perhaps unprecedented in heaviness of expence and frequency of disasters, I studiously and avowedly abstained from all discussions upon controverted subjects of politics. Faithful in reading to you those formularies which were prescribed by my ecclesiastical superiors, I drew an exact line between professional obedience and personal approbation. Though I was disgusted by obsequiousness in some quarters, and turbulence in others; though I often paused where others decided, and mourned where others exulted; though I doubted now and then whether our fasts were altogether such as God had chosen—days for a man to afflict his soul, to bow down his head like a bulrush, to break the bonds of wickedness, to deal his bread to the hungry, to clothe the naked, and never to implore strife and perpetuate debate-I harangued not on the consequences of either defeat or success; I adopted not the language of ministerial zealots or infuriate reformers ; I scattered not the flowers of rhetorical eulogy upon our national virtues, pourtrayed as they sometimes were by other preachers in the glowing colours of national vanity; I fulminated not indiscriminately and vehemently against the crimes of a neighbouring, and then hostile people. Alarmed I was and often shocked at the licentious and impious effusions of individuals, who for a moment bore sway; but common sense, and indeed common justice restrained me from extending the charge of atheism to a whole people-yes, to a whole people, not only educated in the belief of Christianity, but attached to a particular form of it by the suspended, but not forgotten laws of their country—by the example of their forefathers—by the recorded devotion and munificent bequests of sovereigns in a long and splendid line of succession-by ceremonies which they had themselves frequently and scrupulously performed—by habitual reverence for preachers, confessors and councils—by a willing and conscientious submission to a spiritual head, whom they obeyed as the vicar of Christ himself by devout meditation upon legends of glorified saints and martyrs-by pride for the fancied superiority of their own church in doctrine, discipline, antiquity and numbers, and by a spirit of scorn mingled with intolerance towards the advocates of

creed less copious and less captivating than that which they had been accustomed to profess, to vindicate, and to recommend under the most awful penalties to the heretical recusant. Infidelity may decoy the airy sciolist; it may soothe for a season the speculative recluse; but it has no charms of sufficient potency to chill in a moment, and for ever, the hatred of a sincere Romanist. Whatsoever

might have been the outrages of a brutal soldiery and infuriate populace, and whatsoever the jargon of upstarts, buffoons, and infidels, who blasphemed one day, and the next were swept away by rivals in depravity, I could not believe the contagion of impiety to be universal. During the long and dark night of heathenism, the Deity I remembered in common with St. Paul, had not left himself without witness in his visible works, and to me it was incredible that total darkness should on a sudden overspread the minds of the young, the old, the serious, and the cheerful, while the sun and moon, pursuing their wonted course, and the firmament glowing with stars proclaimed a Maker omnipotent; nor while a despoiled and detruncated temple, a defaced altar, or a mutilated crucifix, must have brought back to the minds of the beholder the meritorious sufferings of a dying Redeemer, whom he had humbly and gratefully adored.

I am by no means insensible to the malignant properties of infidelity, as it may affect individuals sometimes in the solemn garb of metaphysics, sometimes in the loose attire of art, and sometimes in the coarser garments of vulgar aud impudent buffoonery. But I hold that no virtuous purpose can be answered by charging a community indiscriminately and entirely with such impiety as excludes the very existence of a deity. Let us attend to the testimony of facts. Nations, when migratory from compulsion or from choice, carry with them not a dreary tale of atheism, but the history and the images of their own tutelary deities. The stiff

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »