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necked and perverse Jews did not pass from the belief of one God to the belief of none; on the contrary they were polytheists, they were idolaters, and they transferred the homage due to Jehovah to Baal, to Nebat, to Chemosh, to Moloch, and the various abominations of Moab, Canaan, and Egypt. In our own country, during the reign of Henry the Eighth, priories, abbies, ancient and stately cathedrals, were razed from their foundations, and yet the causes of this fury were not confined, as was said of French atheism, to one country, but co-operated by very strong sympathy both with the rational and the wild reformers of Saxony, Bohemia, and Geneva. In the time of Charles the First our churches were defaced with brutal violence, and yet the passions which produced it did not break out suddenly as was said of French atheism, but had been growing up nearly for a century under the various forms of puritanism. In these changes of natural opinion there was zeal without knowledge; there was knowledge without moderation; there were clamours and mutual accusations of impiety and presumption between the Romanist and the members of the English church, and between the members of the English church and the conventiclers. But in these changes and these contentions there was no national tendency towards atheism. In that blindness of the understanding to which conscience itself, perverted by prejudice and bigotry, is disposed-a blindness which confounds the love of victory for the love of truth-a blindness which fatally leads us to measure the love of God by the hatred of our
neighbour, whom we represent as an outcast of his favour-every sect in its turn curses those whom a righteous deity may bless. But instead of holding up a future state to derision as a trick of priests and statesmen, to secure the timid and decoy the credulous, all the leaders, and all the followers of the contending parties wished avowedly to die the death of the righteous. In these changes the agents did not deny the existence of a God, they did not set his displeasure at defiance, but unfeignedly sought to execute what they conceived to be his will. There was no rejection of a Redeemer sent down from heaven; but a direct appeal to his gospel, in opposition to the supposed abuses of it from superstition. Mistaken notions of piety or fanaticism there might be through the whole nation; but there were no vestiges of that desperate impiety which was charged upon the whole people of France; and indeed that any whole people should suddenly become atheists is contrary to all history, to all experience, to all philosophy, and to the grave decisions of wise and pious sages, who justly maintain that the belief of God is connatural to the mind of man.
I have laid before you thus fully the reasons which restrained me from echoing and re-echoing the reproaches which were once hurled in our senate, our courts of justice, our pulpits, our theatres, and our very streets; and though I was conscious of incurring much obloquy at the moment, yet I know myself to have acted under the guidance of a mind not wholly unenlightened by study and reflection,
nor wholly destitute of sensibility to the distinctions between right and wrong.
In our own country we have recently witnessed most audacious results against the sacred authority of the Gospel; but have they produced, I do not say, national infidelity, but any visible diminution of sincere and pious worshippers in our own churches, or in the sanctuaries frequented by Romanists and Protestant Dissenters? have they not been hunted down by general and just indignation? have they not been reprobated in the senate and by the people, and visited with just rigour by the laws?
My researches in religion, my veneration for it, my love of it convinced me, that it must have taken too deep root in the hearts of a neighbouring people to be at once torn up even by the dreadful tempests which had convulsed their government. Under these impressions so deep and serious, I did not dare to degrade the venerable church of these realms by introducing into the pulpit what I considered as slanderous exaggerations, tending, alas! to make religious zeal subservient to political animosity. But from these deliberate, and, I am well aware, unpopular omissions, does it follow that I was a negligent spectator of many terrific and extraordinary occurences, or that I was a faithless pastor of the flock committed to my care? No, my brethren; I followed the express and seasonable directions of our public services in exhorting you to review your own lives, to amend your own sins, and to obtain the protection of heaven to yourselves and the com
munity to which you belonged, by following its righteous commands. I prayed again and again that the moral Governor of the Universe would turn the hearts of all rulers, and all their people, towards the amiable duties and the inestimable blessings of peace. I pointed out to you the plain and safe path in which it became you and your countrymen to tread, and to approve yourselves, before heaven and earth, substantially good subjects by acting up to your character as good Christians. Yet, my brethren, in the sincerity of my soul I recommended to you that pure morality and that rational piety, which can alone secure for you the accomplishment of your prayer to die the death of the righteous. Such was the spirit of moderation and seriousness in which I then addressed you, and such too is the spirit in which I shall soon treat upon other subjects far less dubious in their nature, and far more congenial to my own moral and religious feelings.
In regard then to our late Sovereign, I should think it my duty to speak of him according to the conviction of my mind. If there were any faults in him, let us forgive them, my brethren, as we must ourselves wish to be forgiven. If there were excellencies, and many there were, let us acknowledge, commend, and imitate them. Genuine loyalty is not at variance with sincerity. It consists not in yielding superfluous and ostentatious homage to wicked princes, but in doing prompt and plenary justice to the substantial and exemplary merits of the good. We trust that the Sovereign whose loss we deplore deserved to die the death of the righteous,
and if, as subjects, we earnestly endeavour to practice the virtues which have been justly ascribed to him, we may reasonably hope that, by the mercy of God, our own last end will be like that which, if the undisturbed possession of his intellectual powers had been granted to him, would, in all probability, have been his; and that together with him we may be partakers of a blessed immortality.