This election sermon was preached by Rev. Thomas Beede in New Hampshire on June 6, 1811.
PREACHED AT CONCORD,
HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR,
THE HONORABLE COUNCIL,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE,
JUNE 6, 1811.
BY THOMAS BEEDE, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN WILTON.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
JUNE 6. 1811.
VOTED, That Messrs. MORRIL, WILSON and HARRIS, with such as the Senate may join, be a Committee to wait upon the Rev. THOMAS BEEDE, and present him with the thanks of the Legislature for the ingenious and patriotic discourse this day delivered before His Excellency the Governor, the Honorable the Council, and both branches of the Legislature, and request a copy for the press; and make report.
Sent up for concurrence.
CLEMENT STORER, Speaker
IN SENATE – SAME DAY
READ and concurred. Mr. HAM joined.
P. C. FARNUM, Assistant Clerk.
JOHN VII. 48.
HAVE ANY OF THE RULERS OR OF THE PHARISEES BELIEVED ON HIM?
The manner of this question evidently implies a negative answer, and is expressive of that pride and prejudice which marked the characters of distinguished men in the days of our Saviour. At this time the rulers, Pharisees and scribes arrogated to themselves the sole right of judgment and conscience. Their opinion must be held up as the standard of truth, and if the lower class of people differed from them in construing the law, they were deemed accursed.
When the words of the text were uttered, the Jewish nation had just been engaged in the solemnities of the feast of tabernacles. In the great and last day of that feast, as their custom was, they had been praying with increased earnestness for the coming of the promised Messiah. The priests had poured out their wonted libations upon the altar, and the people had chanted the cheering lay of the prophet, “with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” 1 Isa. xii. 3. While these things were doing midst, and opened declared himself to be the Messiah, for whom they prayed, and with a loud voice stood and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” At these words there was a division among the people. Some, from the extraordinary things they saw and heard, believed him to be the prophet, the forerunner of Christ. Others, from a consideration of the miracles he wrought, were ready to conclude, that he was the Christ himself. A third party objected on account of the place of his birth. As he came from the town of Galilee, they, without making due inquiry, supposed this was the place of his nativity : whereas they knew according to the prophecy of Micah, (v. 2) that the true Messiah was to proceed from Bethlehem Ephratah, where David dwelt; so there were diverse opinions among the people concerning him. In the mean time the chief priests and Pharisees, remaining obstinately fixed in unbelief, dispatched officers to take him by force, and bring him before them. But the officers, when they came to him, where so melted at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, that they had not courage enough to lay upon him the hands of violence; so they returned without him; and, when interrogated in regard to their conduct by those who sent them, they made no vain excuses to justify themselves, but frankly confessed the truth; “Never man spake like this man.” “Then answered them the Pharisees, are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers, or the Pharisees believed on him? But his people who knoweth not the law are cursed.”
How pitifully were these vain mortals puffed up with the pride of earthly distinction! Because they were Pharisees, i. e. separated as the word imports; because they fasted often, and made long ostentatious prayers, their persons must be had in admiration, as men of superior wisdom and sanctity. Because they made broad their phylacteries, or parchments (on which were written several passages of the law) and enlarged the borders of their garments as badges of distinction, they must be hailed as the only true judges of religion, and the sovereign dictators of faith and worship.
A further consideration of Christ’s principal opposers the reasons of their opposition, together with a few of some of the most prominent features of the religion he taught, will now follow.
The miracles of Jesus had been wrought openly in testimony of his divine authority; the scripture prophecies were fulfilled in him; he was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the very place designated by the prophet; and those who candidly listened to his instructions were “astonished at his doctrine, for he taught as one that had authority and not as the scribes.” But these circumstances had no weight on the minds of the Jewish leaders.
The benevolent Jesus preached the gospel to the poor, and the common people heard him gladly; but the chief priests, Pharisees and rulers, on most occasions, used all their authority and influence to destroy both him and his religion; and whenever they failed to put their malicious intentions into effect, it was because they “feared the people.” – If, toward the close of the Saviour’s sufferings, the common people took a leading part and appeared foremost in the persecution – if they cried out “Away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him,” it was because their minds were infatuated by the evil insinuations of a corrupt authority.
The same observation will hold true in regard to other nations as well as Jews. It may be seen in the history of the church, that for centuries after the Jewish polity was overthrown, the religion of Jesus found its most violent and successful opposers among characters of distinction – among the priests, rulers, and philosophers of pagan nations. These were the principalities and powers, which the holy confessors and martyrs of old had to encounter and from whose cruel hands they received the most rigorous and painful punishments.
In modern times the rage of religious persecution has abated. The ferocious passions in this respect are in some degree softened. Men do not trouble themselves now a days so much about religion, as they do about riches and honor. But still Christianity has its opposers, though the mode of opposition is altered. It is now opposed by sophistry, wit, ridicule, and by the sarcastic sneers of men who value themselves for learning, rank and influence in the world; and sometimes also by a tactic denial of the world; and sometimes also by a tactic denial of the faith where men brand the doctrine and institutions of Christ with infamy, by passing them over in silent contempt.
Will any ask a reason for such conduct? It is easily given. Men are naturally proud and selfish, and while the heart remains unsanctified, human promotion serves to nourish and strengthen these roots of bitterness. This being the case, the meek and lowly appearance of the “Son of man” disappoints their expectations, and the purity of his doctrine but ill accords with their feelings. They find nothing in the Christian system, calculated to flatter their pride, or gratify their avaricious desires; but “the axe is laid at the root of the tree;” everything that exalteth itself with vain glory is cut down; every sordid affection is designated for destruction. Another reason is, their “deeds are evil,” and Christianity brings them to light and demands repentance. They therefore hate that light which “maketh manifest,” which discovers the hidden things of darkness, and obliges them to acknowledge they have been in the wrong.
It is no wonder that such a proud and wicked ruler, as Herod should be exasperated, when a holy man preached a doctrine, which pointed particularly at him, and exposed the vileness of his incestuous connection. It is no wonder that the self righteous Pharisees should be provoked, when, contrary to all their preconceived opinions, a man of no worldly rank or distinction preached a doctrine, which unfolded their price, hypocrisy, and oppression, and tended to destroy that influence among the people, which they had unjustly gained. It is no wonder that men of worldly wisdom everywhere, especially those who are vainly puffed up on account of their abilities acquirements or stations, should be opposed to that religion, which, morally speaking, reduces them to a level with other men; which requires them to “forsake all and follow Christ;” which requires “faith that works by love,” and expressly declares, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Such doctrine is killing to human pride, and the exalted heart, which is ever blinded with prejudice and grown to the world will resist it and avoid the evidence, which may be brought in its support.
These are the true reasons, we believe for the opposition, which has been maintained against the Christian religion ever since it was first preached. That it has been treated and rejected as “a cunningly devised fable,” is not owing to any deficiency of evidence to prove its divine original; but it is because men, whose “hearts are waxed gross, whose ears are dull of hearing, and whose eyes are closed against the truth,” have refused to give the offered evidence a diligent and careful examination. – Those who believe not, therefore, “in the name of the only begotten Son of god are condemned already; and this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light left his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.” John iii. 18, 21.
Let us now proceed to a view of Christianity with regard to the doctrine it inculcates; and in this view what shall we find to condemn? It is not contradictory to reason, however it may rise above it. In a revealed religion there may be some things beyond our weak comprehension; things which we cannot account for in this imperfect state. And this is no more strange in the volume of revelation, than in the volume of nature. If a philosopher cannot tell why one body attracts another; if he cannot tell why the magnetic fluid circulates, or why the needle of a compass proves true to its pole; he will not say that his reason is contradicted, because it is out-done. He will have no cause to deny the proposition, because he is obliged to resolve it into the mighty power of God.
So the Christian believer, if he cannot investigate the cause of moral evil, or let why it was infused into this world; if he cannot fully explain the doctrine of the Trinity, or tell why God should have sinners through the sufferings of his Son, will not say that these doctrines are contradictory to reason, though every faculty of our reason, when employed upon them, be confounded. Our not being able, therefore, to comprehend what, in its own nature is mysterious, is the thing and the contradiction of reason is another, entirely different.
But, in regard to the practical doctrine of the gospel, it is not enveloped in mystery. It is reduced to a level with the meanest capacity, so that he who “runs may read,” and know his duty and perceive the reasonable ness of it.
Will not reason itself allow, that creatures, who are dependent on their Creator for existence and happiness, do rightfully owe him their supreme affection, and most cheerful service? Will it not allow, that the “royal law,” “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” is fit and right that it is every way adapted to our social capacity, and as such ought to be regarded? And these two things contain a summary of Christ’s moral precepts.
But it will be asked, if reason teaches such good doctrine, what need of revelation? Why did the Son of God humble himself to visit the world, and introduce a system of religion, when the world by the wisdom of its own reason could have done just as well without it? In answer to such questions, it should be observed, that unassisted reason, however perfect, should be observed, that unassisted reason however perfect, never invented such doctrine; it came by revelation, and all that reason has to do in the case is to approve of it, when brought from heaven to men and its purity and fitness are rendered visible by divine teaching.
Reason is the gift of God. It elevates man above the brute, and when rightly direction, constitutes the glory of his nature. It is, therefore, not to be despised, nor in the smallest degree depreciated. But by reason alone, though mankind are naturally prone to some kind of religion, they have never been able to invent or compose a religious system either consistent in itself, or adapted to the circumstances of fallen human nature. Among the wisest of the heathen nations, where reason had all the assistance of the arts and sciences it is notorious, that their religion was filled with the grossest superstition, impurity and folly. It was not calculated to make them wiser or better, but rather to debase the noblest faculties of the soul, and increase the depravity of the heart. Systems of religion, which absurdly acknowledge a multiplicity of deities, admitted human victims for sacrifice, ascribed the vilest lusts, as attributes of some of their principal gods; which required worship to birds, beasts and creeping thing, as well as to silver and gold and wood, the molten and carved works of men’s hands, were among the miserable establishments of the heathens, who by their wisdom knew not God, and had nothing but reason and philosophy, or the light of nature for their light.
It is true indeed that some individuals among the heathens were more correct in their notions about virtue and religion; they were more correct in their ideas of God and the great duty of man; and, could they have reduced their principles to general practice, they might have done good in reforming the world. But it was the misfortune of these wise moralists to be unable to carry anything into general effect. If they had any thing in their systems, which favored of pure divinity or morality we have substantial reason to believe that they were indebted to revelation for it, through the medium of tradition. 2 But unaccompanied with the powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, with all their wisdom, philosophy and tradition, they were unable to convert a single town or village, much less to reform the whole world. If the writings of the heathens were correct in some things; yet they were ever found deficient in matters of the greatest importance. With all the light they had, they were in darkness in regard to the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting. Some of them hoped for these things, but they had nothing to make them certain.
It was reserved for the religion of Christ, accompanied with the outpouring of God’s spirit to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment;” – to proclaim “liberty to captives, the recovering of sight to the blind,” and to give substantial “rest to the weary and heavy laden.” I t was reserved for the religion of Christ to open “a fountain for the guilty and unclean to wash in,” and to make it certain that the dead shall be raised from their slumber; that this “mortal shall put on immortality;” that “this corruptible shall put on incorruption;” that “death shall be swallowed up of victory;” that “the wicked shall depart accursed into everlasting punishment;” and that “the righteous with songs and joy shall go away into life eternal.”
When the Lord Jesus came to our world, he found the nations in darkness. Even the house of Israel, to whom were committed the oracles of God, had erred and strayed like lost sheep. Through the unfaithfulness of their teachers and rulers they had received the “commandments of men” for the doctrine of heaven; and the law of God was “made of none effect through their traditions.” The gentiles also, “who did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” were in still greater darkness, being given up to “a reprobate mind and filled with all unrighteousness.” Verily darkness had covered the earth and thick darkness the people, but the sun of righteousness arose with healing in his beams” to give light and joy and peace, to the whole earth. And nothing but an “evil heart of unbelief” has prevented the complete accomplishment of his glorious design.
The gospel of Jesus Christ, wherever preached in its purity, is as “a light shining in a dark place.” It is calculated to inform the understanding and amend the heart; to give us r5ight views of the character of Deity, and of our duty to him, and one another. It proclaims “glory to god in the highest peace on earth, and good will toward men.” It is not unfriendly to right reason, or found philosophy, but encourages both. It gives to reason direction and to philosophy an object. It reproaches only that knowledge, which “puffeth up;” but the knowledge, which is tempered with the edifying grace of charity, it always cultivates and cherishes. Whatever increases true wisdom, or aids the cause of justice and philanthropy; whatever renders men industrious, honest and amiable; whatever produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;” whatever promotes the true dignity of human nature and fortifies the heart for every trial in this life, and directs the immortal soul to abodes of eternal rest in heaven, belongs to the province of Christianity.
It now remains to make some observat6ions and address suited to the subject and the occasion.
1. We may observe, that true believers in Christ have advantage every way. They have a perfect system of moral government, and a sure foundation of their hope; and in every condition of life, whether prosperous or adverse, their faith affords them direction and comfort. If in this world they are poor; yet they have a confident hope that they are “right toward God;” that they have “treasure in heaven,” “a good foundation against the time to come;” that they shall soon be in possession of “an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” If they are blest with riches, they know how to use and distribute them to the glory of God, and the benefit of society. The gospel of Christ, which they have adopted by faith as a rule of life, instructs them how to “make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, who will receive them into everlasting habitations.” If they are promoted to the splendor of earthly dignity they know the hand of providence is in it; and in this condition, that it becomes their duty to cause “their light to shine before others, so that others seeing their good works may glorify their Father in heaven,” by imitating a pious and virtuous example. And, when the glare of earthly grandeur is about to be lost in the obscurity of the grave, they have a well grounded expectation that they shall be made “kings and priests to God;” that they shall receive “a crown of righteousness,” and shine, as stars, forever in the kingdom of glory. If they are oppressed with affliction, they are not forsaken. They have then a reconciled Father, an Almighty Friend, to whom they may safely and successfully open their hearts. He hears the afflicted when they pray. His grace is ever sufficient for all those who put their trust in him, and call on him in the day of troubled. Even if they be deprived of all earthly distinction and comfort, and obliged to drag out their lives in servitude and wretchedness, yet they have this for their consolation, that the great and faithful shepherd, in whom they believe and trust, “knows his sheep, calls them by name;” that “none is able to pluck them out of his hand;” that he will “raise them up at the last day,” and present them with all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God. And in the mean time they comfort themselves with the belief that the angels of God, as ministering spirits, do attend them by day and by night, as they do all the heirs of salvation. Though they be servants of the lowest grade, yet they are consoled with the assurance, that they are more royally attended than the mightiest of ungodly men.” Whereas, on the other hand, those, who oppose “an evil heart of unbelief” to the doctrine of the gospel, do evidently deprive themselves of the best directions and solaces in this world; and, by renouncing the name of Jesus, the only name given under heaven among men, whereby they can be saved, they cut themselves off from all hope, except a presumptive hope, of happiness in a future state.
2. In adopting the gospel of Christ, as a rule of life, there is safety. It can do no man any injury to “live soberly, righteously and godly” according to gospel rules, even if what we deem “the grace of God in Christ Jesus,” should eventually prove all delusion. To “render honor to whom honor is due;” to “follow peace with all men and holiness;” to “deal justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord our God;” to “lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty;” to “love the Lord our God with all our heart” and to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” can never abridge our happiness in this world, but will greatly promote it.
3. It is the part of good policy to encourage the Christian faith. Human laws, let them be ever so perfect, can be executed only on conviction of actual transgression, but cannot reach the heart; they cannot alter the dispositions of men, or sanctify their affections. Such is the subtlety of worldly wisdom, that the lawless and disobedient will find frequent opportunities to elude the vigilance of the magistrate, and practice according to the corrupt “desires of the flesh and of the mind” with impunity. But the principles of Christianity, implanted in the heart, bow the will, change the desires, and purify the dispositions of men. The true believer in Christ knows, that he is religiously about to respect human authority, because it is of divine appointment; that he must “submit to every (reasonable and consistent) ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” He knows also that he must not “speak evil of dignities;” that he must “bridle the tongue,” and “keep the whole body in subjection.” He knows that the gospel renders him accountable to the Judge of all the earth, for the opinions he forms and the thoughts he cherishes as well as for the practice he exhibits. He is sensible that there is One, who seeth in secret, who will reward openly; that he is answerable to God for what can not be punished by human laws – for pride, self conceit, envy, malice, covetousness, and the like. These mischievous passions affections, before they are made visible by overt acts, are not punishable by human laws; but the law of Christ takes notice of them. He, who has “all power in heaven and earth,” knows the hearts of men and will deal with them according to their prevailing desires and intentions. The believer, belong convinced of this, uses all diligence to govern himself accordingly.
In order, therefore, to make men virtuous citizens; to render them peaceable and obedient subjects, they should be encouraged, by all suitable means, to become the subjects of that regenerating faith, which produces “a new creature;” which molds and fashions the whole soul according to “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
4. We observe, that it is eminently the duty of civil rulers and distinguished characters to encourage the Christian faith; because they have the most influence. They are placed in a situation, where they can do more good, or more injury to the community than any others; and their rank and influence should be engaged on the side of virtue; should ever be employed in consulting and promoting the public welfare.
The history of the Jews renders it certain, that the prosperity and adversity, which that nation alternately experienced, were in proportion to the virtue and vice of its rulers and leading men. When these “feared God and wrought righteousness,” they influenced the generality of the people, at least, to do well, and prepared them for a blessing; and, on the contrary when these distinguished persons cast off all religious restraints, they influenced the people to do wickedly, and thereby fitted them for desolating judgments. We are particularly assured that the last dreadful calamities, which befell that devoted nation, happened in consequence of willfully rejecting the Christian religion, and murdering its founder. When “by wicked hands they crucified the Lord of glory,” they sealed their own destruction. They nailed their exalted privileges to the same accursed tree, on which their Messiah was executed, and thus prepared themselves for utter dispersion and alienation.
By such examples the “ministers of God for good” should be instructed, and admonished of their duty. They should remember, that the Christian faith is the best support of their own authority, and the only sure foundation of the public virtue and welfare. If it be said that he work of religion is the Lord’s that “he works in men both to will and to do of his own good pleasure;” yet it should be remembered, though he work in them, he never the less works by them, as his instruments; and “to whom much is given much will be required.” Blessed are they, therefore, who, under a sense of duty, cheerfully cooperate with the “Lord of lords and King of kings” in promoting the great and benevolent designs of his providence.
But, it will be asked, by what methods civil rulers shall encourage the religion of Christ? Shall they officiously interfere in matters of conscience, and in their zeal for the faith, become the persecutors of their subjects? Or shall they bring forward measures for the benefit of a particular sect, which will prove oppressive to other peaceable worshippers, who have an equal right to their religious opinions? By no means. We contend not for intolerance, persecution, or oppression. But we would have all in authority express a practical regard for the Christian faith and worship. In their public deliberations, let them piously “ask wisdom of God, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth none.” In the laws they enact for the government of the people, let them not only manifest a sacred regard to justice, but let justice itself be tempered with gospel benevolence. In their appointments to subordinate offices, let them lay aside all party views and party feelings, and, “with conscience toward God,” consider their favors on men of undoubted piety, ability, and integrity. And, in their more private walks, let them demonstrate to those about them, that they have a sincere attachments to the Christian faith, by “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” By such methods they will act in character, as magistrates, and discharge their duty, as Christians. And while they are a “terror to evil doers,” by the influence of a holy example, they will become “a praise, and encouragement to them, who do well.”
The occasion on which we have assembled, suggests the propriety of a more particular application of our discourse to the respective branches of the Legislature, and the people present.
His Excellency the Governor, after receiving our affectionate salutations, will please to indulge us in a few words expressive of our solicitous concern for his usefulness and happiness.
While you continue in office, Sir, (and, if Providence should smile upon the choice of the people, we trust you will continue in office, at least, during the present year) you are placed in situation of distinguished importance. Many thousands of people fix their eyes on you, as their political father. It is in your power to do them much good, or much injury, according to the measures you may take. We hope, therefore, that the considerations, which have been suggested, relative to the advantage, safety, policy and duty of a practical faith in the religion of Christ, will make a suitable impression on your mind.
A due regard to the principles of the gospel will not only guide you in judgment, but add stability and firmness to your labors and exertions for the public good. And, while it renders you a rich blessing to the people, it will afford peace and satisfaction to your own mind, such peace and satisfaction as you will frequently need. As long as there is evil in the world, the very best of rulers will sometimes meet with ingratitude and abuse; but if you have “faith in a good conscience,” you have inward comfort, which none can take away. The high and mighty Ruler of the universe, from whom you have derive authority to govern, is “the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” If you aim at fidelity in his service, he will approve the purity of you motives. Though the world condemn, he will justify; and, for your sake, will grant a blessing on the community. We presume not to dictate you in regard to the particular measures you may see fit to adopt, but we steadfastly hope and pray, that you will maintain the faith, you have embraced, “without wavering;” that in all your official conduct you will “hold fast your integrity,” as a Christian ruler; and, by the energy of your own example, you will promote and encourage the gospel of peace among all those, who are subject to your authority.
The members of the honorable Council Senate and House of Representatives will, it is hoped, feel interested in being the subjects of that faith, which hath subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and turned to slight the armies of aliens. We hail you, legislators, as the guardians of your rights and privileges. And, if guided by those principles of rectitude, which our holy religion establishes, you undertake the management of our public concerns, we shall have no apprehensions of disappointment in the issue.
In regard to the qualifications of civil rulers, good natural and acquired abilities are undoubtedly requisite; they should have penetration and judgment, should have skill to discern and ability to execute. But these qualifications alone are not sufficient to make good rulers. A tyrant may have the best of natural ability improved by all that art can contrive, and still be unfit to be entrusted with the affairs of government; because his object is not to promote the happiness of his subjects, but his own pleasure and aggrandizement. The principles of the religion of Christ, which are embraced by faith in his name, added to knowledge, skill and judgment, are indispensably necessary to the characters of those, who bear rule.
The most civilized nations of the world have nominally declared in favor of the Christian religion. And, no doubt, there are some good Christians among them, who like the “salt of the earth,” scattered through the great mass, keep the rest from putrefying. But where do we find a vein of pure Christianity running throughout the whole political conduct of the same civilized and powerful nations?
When nations trample on the rights of others or lay unjust burdens upon any part of their subjects; when they tax them without representation, or consent, and assume the right to “control them in all cases whatever” contrary to their will, can it be said, that such administration, though carried on by those who have professed the faith corresponds to the justice and benevolence of the gospel?
Or, when an ambitious conqueror usurps a throne, puts a crown upon his own head, establishes a military despotism, and hurls firebrands, arrows and death into all nations, who oppose his universal sway, or who will not tamely become his co-adjustors at his imperial command; can it be said that such a sovereign, let his profession be what it will, has learned the principles, which govern his conduct in the school of Christ?
We hope, gentlemen, by the evil examples of other rulers, both ancient and modern, you will receive lessons of admonition; and, as the representatives of an important section of this Christian republic, you will do honor to the Christian faith by conscienciously consulting the precious interests of your constituents. Beware of pride, beware of covetousness. Let the glory you seek, be the glory of God, and the riches you most anxiously desire, be the riches of his grace. Ever study to please Him, by whom “actions are weighed;” and bear it in your minds, that the religion of Christ, which has been despised by Jewish and pagan pride; which for many ages has borne the sarcastic sneers of mocking infidels, is to be the rule of your public, as well as private conduct; and by your example, is to be recommended to the people of this State, as the only sure guide to virtue and happiness here, and glory, honor and immortality in heaven.
May we now ask this assembly at large, Have ye believed on the Son of God? If so, then “add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. Render honor to whom honor is due. Be of one mind; live in peace, and the God of peace will bless you.” But, if you willfully reject the only appointed methods of grace and salvation, forever and ever” and “hath all power in heaven and in earth.” “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
1. See an Introduction to the reading of the Holy Scriptures, by Messrs. Beausobre and L’Enfant. Camb. 1779. (Return)
2. “Those few pagan philosophers, who believed in one Infinite Mind, borrowed this sentiment, by their own acknowledgment, from eastern tradition. Indeed they could not derive it from artumentation; for whenever they reason from visible effects they always infer a plurality of causes. Whenever they speak of providence, or of religious worship, they refer the one and the other to a multiplicity of gods. If their own wisdom could not fully direct and establish them in the first principle of natural religions; much less could it assure divine pardon and succor, and future everlasting happiness, to conscious guilt and depravity, or even to sincere but defective virtue.”
See Dr. Tappan’s two Sermons on the Beauty and Benefits of the Christian Church, delivered at Plymouth, 1800. (Return)