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In all the majesty of truth, and beauties of holiness, the blessed Gospel delivers to us those laws, by which we are to live here, and be judged hereafter. Containing doctrines the most rational and sublime, precepts the most benevolent and salutary, a stile the most rich and powerful, in all the variety of language and colouring, and sharper than a twoedged sword—this heavenly book was given to purify the heart and affections; to enlighten and exalt the understanding; to awaken and guide the conscience; to confirm our hopes and remove our fears; to banish ignorance and superstition; to cast down the idols of the nations; to mitigate or destroy lawless power; to check the rage of barbarism; to humanize the hearts of men, and call them off from a vain dependence upon external worship and ceremonies, to a trust in the living God; obedience to his moral laws and the voice of conscience within; repentance for past offences; an acceptable, rational and elevated de. votion of heart, a longing after immortality; an exaltation to the life of angels, the joy of God, and happiness unspeakable and full of glory!
All our other Knowledge, all that is called Philosophy, will avail us but little, without the divine finishing of this wisdom of the spirit of God, which teacheth all things. “ For whether there be tongues they shall cease, or whether there be [human] knowledge it shall vanish away.” But the sublime knowledge of the Gospel will be forever new. It will lead us to that Salvation of God, promised in our text. It will be the endless subject of our inquiries and of our praises, and will constitute a Philosophy, the Marvellous of which Eternity cannot exhaust, ñor the longest periods of duration bring to decay.
Such, then, being the nature and end of the Gospel of Christ, how triumphant is the assurance given in our text, that “ the Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations" of this immense continent, and that His promise hath gone forth “ to these ends of the earth,” that they “ shall see the salvation of God," and exult in the full blaze of Gospel-day!
The prospect opens, it extends itself upon us; and the whole analogy of things aids the interpretation of Prophecy. Turning our thoughts to the ways of Providence, as recorded in sacred as well as profane History, and pondering upon the fate of Christian States and Empires—how they have, in their turns, enjoyed the pure light of the Gospel and all its blessed concomitants-true Liberty, equal Laws, security of Property, Wisdom, Magnanimity, Arts and Sciences, and whatever can adorn or exalt human nature-how they have flourished or decayed, according to the due use or corrupt abuse of those mighty blessings; while we mark the progress of Reli- . gion and Civilization through the Old World, and impartially examining the prophecies which relate to the coming in of “ the fulness of the Gentiles,” and extending “ their glory, like a flowing stream,” to the ends of the earth, compared with the circumstances, in which we now stand—Surely, on such a review, we are justified in cherishing a strong Hope, a wellgrounded Persuasion, that the day hath already
dawned, (nay that its meridian is near at hand) when “ all the ends of the earth” shall, with us, behold the salvation of our God.
With the sun, those mighty blessings still pursued a western course, till they reached the utmost verge of the old world—that Ultima Thule, from whence many of us and our fathers sprang. Long did they illumine that favoured land, and while they shone in noon-tide glory there—(O memory, why starts the involuntary tear?) while they shone in noon-tide glory there—at the time ordained by God, our fathers crossed the vast ocean. They brought the Bible, the blessed Charter of their Salvation, in their hands, and therewith the rudiments of learning and science, dispelling the long, long, night of darkness in which these American regions were involved; and laying the foundation of a new and glorious æra in the Gospel progress, onwards towards the Setting Sun. A radiant morn of light and happiness then dawned upon this benighted land, yielding the joyous earnest of a future resplendent day. That dawn was, however, overcast; the morning loured and our sun was hid in clouds for a while; but, blessed be God, he was not commanded, for our unworthiness, to revert from his destined course, and measure back his former way. The clouds were dispersed, our Sun broke forth with renewed vigour, sending forward his bright beams to the farthest west, and calling all “ the ends of the earth” to behold the salvation of our God.
To speak without further metaphor, the goodness of the Almighty, supporting the inhabitants of these
United States, not only through former trials and perils, but now blessing us with peace, liberty, and safety in all our borders--appears to call upon us, and to have preserved us, as chosen instruments for planting and disseminating a “new empire of sound Religion and Liberty, Wisdom, Virtue, Arts and Sciences, to the outmost ends of the new world; at a time when they are drooping or dead in most coun. tries of the old world, which once enjoyed their brightest splendor.” The prosecution of this great design
the diffusing of heavenly Knowledge, and Liberty, and Arts and Sciences, unto the extremest bounds of America, I have ever considered as the first and greatest work for which we were sent into it, and for which the Almighty hath hitherto prospered us; making the “ wilderi oss and the solitary places glad through us, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose.” To look forward to that glorious æra, when heavenly Wisdom and Virtue, and all that can civilize, adorn, and bless mankind, shall cover this whole continent,
as the waters cover the sea'—to attend to the times and the seasons, and to dwell upon the many prophecies which predict its near approach to contribute my share towards the advancement of it, and to possess the minds of the rising generations of youth, who are to be principal actors in the work, with the great, the animating Idea, that Heaven hath yet mighty blessings in store for the inhabitants of this land, of every clime and every colour-this hath been my joy, and this my labour from my earliest years. The contemplation of the subject hath often filled my sout with raptures, approaching almost to enthusiasm, some sparks of which I feel even yet working in my bosom; and oh! that I could now strike them forth into an enlivening flame upon this auspicious occasion, perhaps the last of the kind which I can ever embrace, to declare once more, my full persuasion, that unless we are zealously instrumental in this great work of civilization, all our other works and blessings—the happiness of climate and fruitfulness of soil, our zeal and struggles for liberty, our best plans of civil government, our most absolute national Inde. pendence, all will be of little effect--for still we depend on the living God, who hath set eternal bounds between right and wrong, and whose Almighty arm holds the fate of empires and nations, suspended in the balance.
Should we, as a people, neglect the call which is given us, for contributing our utmost endeaYours to render this land, a land of Knowledge and Virtue, as well as of Freedom; should we ima. gine that we were sent into it only to eat the fruits thereof, to wrest from the former lords of the soil, by us called Savages, the possessions which they held from age to age, without seeking to improve their condition as well as our own; should we refuse to “ undo the heavy burden, to break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free”-justly might we fear that the good providence of God would punish us for our unworthiness, and raise up other instruments for the accomplishment of his own eternal purposes of love, for Civilizing as well as Christianizing this immense continent.