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mous for their purity of morals; and their support and practice of religion. But war and armies, are the bane of morals. Generally a larger portion of the dregs of society, than of men of regular habits, at such a time become soldiers. In the camp the wickedness of the former is augmented, like the glowing of fire, when brands are thrown together. And the moral infection is with facility communicated through the whole army, with few exceptions. Young men thus situated usually soon become vicious; and many to a dreadful degree. The soldier thus corrupted by and by returns home to mingle in society. He must now exhibit what he has learned in the army. His profane. ness and vice strongly tend to contaminate his listen. ing associates, and to diffuse a baneful influence, es. pecially through the youthful part of the community. In this way, the morals of our country experienced a sad depression, in the revolution, which gave us national independence. Vice and irreligion soon gained an ascendency.
Educational restraints were relaxed and much impaired. And it became with too many an object of ambition to free themselves from the inpressions of a religious education, under the notion of a noble independence of thought. The seeds of li. centiousness thus extensively sown, became prolific; and the baneful fruit has been produced an hundred fold.
The suspension for a time, in the American proyinces, of the restrains and operations of civil law, diffused among a large class of people a spirit of licentious liberty, which could not be without extreme difficulty reduced to proper civil subordination. The operations of this spirit were visible in the course of our revolutionary struggle. And under the subsequent confederation it became in some instances very alarming. And this spirit was prepared to open a distressing avenue to the innovations of modern licenciousness.
The corrupt manners of foreign nations have been copied and adopted in the United States. Our connexions abroad have introduced the vices of old corrupt countries, and have furnished both the knowledge and the means of refined luxury. These things have gradually prepared the minds of thousands to become unhinged from the principles of the religion of Christ. And Infidelity is the natural result of this process; as fact has lamentably evinced.
And it must be here noted, that our peculiar acquaintance, and connexion formed, in the time of our revolution, with that nation, which was destined in Providence to give birth to Antichrist, or to form the terrible atheistical Power of the last days, have given a great facility to the dissemination of sentiments of licentiousness and Infidelity in this country. That nation, under its monarchy, was induced to aid us; and fought by our side. This circumstance has of course, opened a distressing avenue to intrigues and Infidelity in America.
In vieving the causes of the mischief under consideration in the United States, we find striking evidence, that irreligion, fanaticism and Infidelity, are nearly allied.
Skepticism has occasioned a flood of irreligion; and the latter has been followed by a torrent of systematic Infidelity. The great neglect of religious education, and the means of Christian knowledge in our land, has opened the door to religious imposture; and this powerfully aids the cause of Antichrist. It leads its subjects in the way to Infidelity. The Christian religion in this depraved world demands assiduous cul.. tivation. Youih must be piously restrained. And they must be taught with line upon line, and precept upon precept. The things of God must be often unfolded and pressed upon them. Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Family religion, holy precepts and examples, a pious family government, the sanctification of the Sabbath, and the vigilant cultivation of all regular habits; these are means, which God has appointed for the salvation of the rising generation: These are means,
which the God of nature has kindly adapted to the support of the Christian faith in families. These means are essential barriers against Infidelity.
But how notorious has been the neglect of these means, in our nation, in late years? How few houses are houses of God? How lamentably has family reli. gion gone to decay? How few of the hundreds of thou. sands of the American youth, are favored with a strict. ly religious education? The Sabbath is profaned by many thousands in our land. And the evil has long been rapidly increasing. The public worship of God has, with a great portion of the people, grown into dis
The means of supporting the Gospel ministry, are covetously withholden by a large part of the com. munity; who thus prefer the darkness of Paganism, to the light of salvation. In short, the doctrines of the Gospel have been perverted; and the main pillars of the Christian system have been attempted to be overthrown.
Yet man has a conscience; and guilty beings under its lashes dread the judgment. IVho among us can dwell with devouring fire? Who can inherit everlasting burnings? These are questions not instantly disposed of. The conscience is not seared as with a hot iron at once. This is usually a work of time. And some kind of religion in the mean time must be had, to qui. et the alarms of guilt. But to embrace the humbling doctrines of the cross; uniformly to endure the restraints, and perform the duties of the pure religion of Christ, is intolerable to the proud heart, to the ignorant and the perverse. Some substitute then, must be adopted; some kind of religion invented, more conso. nant with the feelings of the wicked; which yet may sooth their consciences. How perfectly are such people prepared to fall a sacrifice to the wiles of some subtile imposture. They have become habituated to despise the genuine doctrines, and the regular order of Christ. And yet not having quite reached gross In- . fidelity, they seem to want some religion. The fanatic preacher arrives. And there are multitudes of them
. at this day! He declaims against those doctrines of grace, which are most offensive to the carnal heart; and harrangues upon imaginary doctrines, which are much more pleasing. He proposes a cheap and easy religion; one which allows to man much of that independence and importance, which he claims; a religion, which saves man the labor of diligently searching and comparing the word of God, and of studying his own heart. All is done, both by preacher and hearer, by immediute inspiration! Proselytes become at once first rate Christians; yea, fit for teachers; being admitted to a high and peculiar intimacy with God! They reach at once the top of the mount. Every passion is addres- . sed, and wrought up to the highest pitch. These new fangled Christians are confident, dogmatical, and above the reach of salutary instruction. The regular teach- . ers of religion are by them accounted hirelings, and ignorant of spiritual things. The improvements of such people usually are, to learn the most common ca. vils against the doctrines of grace. In this they often make great proficiency. And they become a prey to enthusiasm and error, of one denomination or another, according to the notions of their teachers.
Such people are in the high road to Infidelity. Their religion is no better than a dream Their God is only a fiction; a creature of their own imagination; and no better ihan an idol. The essential glories of the true God are by them denied, and often with bit. terness. Such fanaticism is often followed by Infidelity, at a period not far distant. The human passions are not capable of long retaining such an elevated tone. The feelings will by and by vibraie to the opposite extreme. Such characters, after a series of heats and coids, become tired of their religion. Its novelty is gone. Their former attachment to it sickens into disgust. They find much plain Scripture against their tenets. Yet they will not, renounce their scheme for that which is correct. They thus form a habit of perverting the word of God. This conduct prepares them. to doubt of the Divine authority of those offensive pas. sages; and they are gradually prepared to doubt of the inspiration of the whole Bible. They become con
scious that there is no goodness in their religion; and they hence infer, that there is none in that of other people. For they readily imagine their own religion to have been as good as that of others. Often have such persons asserted, that they have been through the whole of religion, and have found that there is nothing in it all. Thus their progress of error and fanaticism has carried them to the dreary regions of Infidelity. Such characters will readily become the tools and a. gents of Antichrist. They have the very spirit of Antichrist. And they will act, as far as they find opportunity, essentially the same part of opposition to the Christian cause, with the terrible infidel Power of the last days, even should they not be politically united, or should they not have opportunity to act in immediate concert with that terrible Power. Perhaps national politics may not suffer, that all, who have the spirit of Antichrist in the last days, shall be found politically united with Antichrist. Many may not be of his armies, or allies, who yet will possess his essential characteristic, a violent Infidelity; which will engage them in the same cause of opposition to the kingdom of Christ.
Much has appeared of late, in some parts of our land, in revivals of Religion, answering to the blessed prediction, When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And this Divine grace will still be fulfilled, to the eventual salvation of Zion. But let not Zion's friends hence lose sight of their dangers, by indulging hopes, which exceed their prospects. God engaged, with ample proinises, to restore the Jews from their seventy years captivity in Babylon; and that Jerusalem and the temple should be rebuilt. “Not by might, nor by power; but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of
And the event was accomplished. But the walls were built "in troublous times.” Though that work had been patronized by such vast authority as the express edict of Cyrus; yet, by the clamor and rage of persecuting enemies, it was wholly suspended for a time. Malicious accusers, round about the Church, sanctioned by the authority of their distant monarch,